FinTech Female Fridays: Meet SVP of Lender and Partner Strategy, Denada Ramnishta
Updated: Mar 31, 2021
Denada Ramnishta’s journey is anything but traditional. An immigrant from Albania, she has charted a course as an innovative leader in fintech. Today, she is an integral part of the Lendio team, working to reshape the small business lending space, drive sustainable revenue growth, and fight for those who are traditionally underserved. We discuss how she’s empowering female business owners, how being herself shaped her career journey, and how her support network has backed her along the way.
"The turning point for me in my career was when I decided to truly be myself. I became a better contributor and I actually participated with my genuine perspective guided by experience and personal values."
Full name: Denada Ramnishta
Job title: SVP, Lender & Partner Strategy
Current company: Lendio
Current location: New York City
Hometown: Durres, Albania
Favorite hobbies: Writing, car racing, travel, cooking
Favorite part of the day: Family dinner
Productivity hack: Allowing space for de-stressing via exercise and music
Denada Raminshta always knew she wanted to pursue a career where she could use her creative problem-solving and negotiation skills. After receiving an MBA from Columbia Business School, and sharpening those skills even more, Denada entered the world of entrepreneurship where she felt confident she could put her skills to good use.
Denada began her career in fintech at American Express at a time when the company was revolutionizing the way it did business. Her team spearheaded non-card lending to support its merchant services offerings. She joined Lendio in 2017 and now leads both the lender and the partner strategy for Lendio’s next-generation marketplace. “I’ve worked to increase rapid revenue growth through strategic partnerships that benefit the participating companies and their end users,” she says.
“Now, I am applying my philosophy of a holistic, 360-degree partnership model to lender strategy and portfolio management to drive sustainable enterprise growth.”
Last year, Lendio pivoted in order to support small businesses with PPP loans. Denada’s team worked tirelessly to engage and onboard multiple financial institution partners in order to save the American dream for small business owners impacted by the pandemic. Lendio has facilitated more than 115,000 PPP loans for a total of over $8 billion in loan approvals. Lendio is currently participating in the re-opened PPP with an aim to help even more businesses this time around. “Outside of the PPP, I am working with my team to further Lendio’s mission to become an all-inclusive financial platform for business owners everywhere, especially those who are traditionally underserved,” says Denada. More than just a financial marketplace, Lendio can offer multiple solutions to meet small business owners wherever they are in their financial journey.
The small business lending space is dynamic and is evolving at a rapid pace. This is very attractive to Denada, as she enjoys the challenge of trying to stay one step ahead to innovate and facilitate synergies across organizations. For now, the Lendio team remains focused on small business recovery. “No matter the solution, government officials will need to ensure that the SBA retains a big seat at the economic table. And with that, the SBA needs to keep fintechs involved—they are playing a vital role in getting relief funds quickly to those who need them most, and they’ll continue to play a role in democratizing access to capital for the nation’s small businesses,” Denada says.
Denada is currently working on several exciting, innovative, thought-provoking, and disruptive projects. One of them being an initiative to leverage the Lendio platform to empower women business owners through access to growth capital.
“In all of my entrepreneurial adventures, I’ve met many women who’ve founded businesses. For most all of them, access to capital was constricted and a major pain point—there wasn’t enough empowerment for female entrepreneurs and they didn’t feel supported,” she shares.
Denada is beginning to collaborate with social media platforms that cater specifically to this demographic, and hopes to use her experience to empower women while addressing this issue.
As far as lessons learned in Denada’s career go, she credits her success to being her authentic self. From a very young age her mother taught her to be her authentic self, but she didn’t fully take this to heart until later in life.
“Early in my career, I applied business school strategies, thoughts and processes, but they weren’t of incremental value. The incremental value of my contributions came from my authenticity. The turning point for me in my career was when I decided to truly be myself. I became a better contributor and I actually participated with my genuine perspective guided by experience and personal values."
Denada views mentors and advisors as critical to career success and development, and has been fortunate to have several mentors who have guided her through career decisions. “Professionally at every avenue, I’ve always had excellent mentors. Many of these early mentors continue to have influence in my life, as they remain my advocates and consultants,” she shares. Gathering from her background, experience, and growth from adversity, Denada is a deliberate leader who supports open communication and consistent and constructive conflict. She is a fierce advocate of diversity of thought, experience, and perspective.
“Leadership is not a position but rather a disposition,” she advises.
A Pandemic Diary - The WFH Chronicles
6:00 am: Wake up with a tiny human foot in my face; one of my kids snuck into my bed early this morning. I get up, drink coffee, and watch the morning news. I have a personal WFH policy where I get fully dressed and do my hair and make-up; sometimes this happens after school drop-offs, but today I did it first thing in the morning.
7:30 am: I have two children, so it is time for breakfast and packing their school bags; this routine was different when school was virtual.
8:30 am: School drop-offs.
9:00 am: I have a calendar event at this time every day to plan and organize the work day; on Mondays this includes the whole week.
10:00 am: It is a crucial time for Lendio, as we are facilitating PPP loans, so I spend this time with my leadership team prioritizing our responsibilities.
10:15 am: Jumped on the first of many external meetings today; this one is with a lending partner.
1:00 pm: Weekly C-team meeting.
4:30 pm: Second daily leadership team sync.
5:00 pm: The next two hours I will be in a meeting with a large strategic partner of ours to discuss potential opportunities for working together.
7:00 pm: Kids: “Mom, it’s time to play a game!” Me: “OK, my loves, Mommy is almost done with her work call.” We play a few rounds of something fun.
8:00 pm: Read to the kids and get them to bed.
Whenever I can squeeze it in: Put my AirPods in and go for a run; exercising is my daily productivity hack, even if it has to happen at 10 pm.
9:00 pm: Music, hobbies, personal reading—no, something came up and I need to hop on a work call.
11:00 pm: Bedtime.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
I don’t know where the week went—tomorrow is Friday already?
5:00 am: Emergency visit to the vet with my dog Coco.
7:00 am: Finally home from the vet—everything is OK. Time to get the kids breakfast and off to school.
9:00 am: Time to plan the day. I am participating in a partner’s webinar, I will be answering questions from small business owners about the Paycheck Protection Program, so I need to make sure no conflicting meetings have been added to my calendar overnight—yes, this happens.
10:30 am: Usually I sync with my leadership team at 10 am, but today we had to push 30 minutes because I had a virtual interview for a potential new hire.
2:30 pm: Just completed the hour-long webinar; we were able to answer a ton of questions, but wow, does an hour go by fast!
3:00 pm: Quick break from Zoom to call our CEO to discuss a potential strategic partnership, and now I'm jumping on to a Zoom call to prep for another webinar next week.
4:00 pm: Since WFH began, I meet with my team every Friday for a “water cooler” session; this means no work talk. We’ve been incredibly busy the past few weeks and have not had a chance to hop on this meeting. Today, I made sure it happened!
5:00 pm: More meetings.
7:00 pm: Sushi and movie night with the kids.
9:30 pm: Kids went to bed: Gotta get that daily run in!
10:00 pm: Music, hobbies, personal reading—this time it actually happens. Fall asleep after a long, productive, and fulfilling week.
Reach out to Denada on LinkedIn.