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  • Jacqueline Tran

Meet Julia Stefani, Chief Product Officer at Treasure Financial


With a college background in finance and computer science, Julia's passion lies in using technology to tackle financial challenges. Her journey began as a web engineer in biotech, but she soon transitioned into technical project management after earning a master's degree in information and program management at Washington University in St. Louis.


In 2012, a chance encounter with Expedia's recruiting team at the Grace Hopper Conference led Julia to San Francisco, where she became a Technical Product Manager in their newly established office. She quickly transitioned to product management and this role not only allowed her to explore diverse product lines but also adapt products for the Asian market. After nearly five years at Expedia, Julia joined the Facebook payments team, where she fell in love with fintech problem-solving.


Subsequently, she joined SoFi's Invest Product team, leading onboarding, growth, and later the Crypto product line, culminating in the company's successful IPO. A year ago, a persistent recruiter introduced Julia to Treasure Financial, and she instantly connected with the team and the problem space. Now, as Chief Product Officer at Treasure Financial, Julia leads an exceptional team of engineers, product managers, and designers in crafting top-notch treasury management embedded software for the SMB sector.


Treasure Financial aspires to be the driving force behind financial stewardship within the SMB ecosystem, through the power of cutting-edge technology, automation and yield generation strategies. Treasure provides embedded cash management and investment via a proprietary API. Treasure enables any platform to embed an investment offering and delight their customers (businesses & consumers) with access to professional investment solutions.

 


Q&A with Julia:

How do you challenge yourself in your role?  How do you differentiate yourself at your role (so that other FinTech women can reference to model their career pathways)?   

I challenge myself in this role and every role by committing to continuous learning, from learning more about our customers to learning new technologies. I also love to grow by developing cross functional skills like partnering with our CRO and CFO to influence and learn more about our growth and finance key decisions to be made.

I aim to differentiate myself through three pillars:

-        Expertise and thought leadership by becoming the SME in the problem space I am working in and the customer base I am serving.

-        People Leadership by striving to always provide my team with the context, opportunity and support they need to flourish in their career and help the company flourish. Being a woman in Tech I especially try to create an inclusive and non biased environment.

-        Innovation by always learning new technologies and understanding market dynamics that can help me create new solutions for our customers.




What are you excited about Fintech this year?  What is a trend that you are seeing in your vertical? What developments do you see in FinTech in the future?    

This year has been a hard one for the fintech space but I see a few trends that are very exciting:

●      Embedded finance: This trend is making financial services more accessible and convenient for consumers and businesses. As a matter of fact we have made embedded finance a core part of our strategy at Treasure Financial by creating an API product that allows other financial institutions to easily offer a yield generation product to their SMB customers.

●      Open banking: Open banking is a framework that enables consumers and businesses to share their financial data with third-party providers. This is opening up new possibilities for financial innovation, such as personalized financial advice and new payment options.

●      Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML): AI and ML are being used in a variety of ways in fintech, such as to improve fraud detection, automate customer service tasks, and develop personalized financial advice.

Last but not least I think blockchain technology offers a number of innovations that can help assets move more freely and faster between interested parties. WIth the right regulation and due diligence in place this technology has the power to revolutionize a number of industries even past fintech.



What is one piece of advice someone told you that resonated with you that can give to other women in FinTech?   

There are a few gems I have collected along the way. Today I want to share a quote about prioritization that a great mentor shared with me years ago. He said “Be careful not to put the same energy behind a $1 problem as you do on a million dollar problem”. I constantly ask myself that question, from feature prioritization problems to which battle to fight with my two toddlers.



What's the best job decision you ever made?

The best job decision to ever make was to leave a very comfortable secure interesting job at a public company to join a small startup. The learnings, connection to customers and opportunity for impact I have experienced in this last year with Treasure FInancial have been unparalleled to anything else in the past.



Can you tell us about a time someone encouraged you to try a task or take on a project you didn’t think that you would know how to do/or be good at?

Sam, our CEO, encouraged me to take on leadership of our engineering team besides product and design at Treasure a few months ago. Though I had lots of ideas on how I could improve things for the team, because I had not held that role before, I had a million doubts (typical imposter syndrome). Luckily Sam believed in me and that decision has proven to be the right one a few months down the line.




What is the most important lesson you have learned from a mistake you’ve made in the past?

Not speaking up for what you believe in, be it to advocate a project decision or advocate for myself. It is a lot better to have advocated and lost the debate than to wonder if you could have helped create a better outcome for everyone.



Do you have any productivity hacks?  What keeps you motivated? How do you maintain a work/life balance?

To be honest, becoming a mom is a crash course in productivity. I find I have an increased ability to prioritize and work smarter. A few of the techniques I use in my day to day life is scheduling time in my calendar for important things that need to get done and grouping activities together that require the same type of energy. As far as how I stay motivated that comes down to the two beautiful toddlers that run around my house. With every decision I make I strive to spend as much quality time as possible with them, and spend the time I am away from them on real life problems that will impact the work in a positive way. Maintaining work life balance for me currently is made possible by an amazing partner that really shares in the burden of maintaining a household and raising kids, my parents that left their life in Albania to spend half of the year with us and a company that understands the value of work/life balance.



More about Julia

Where you currently live: Berkeley, CA


Living arrangement: I live with my partner Matt, 3.5 year old son Luka, 18 month old daughter Ella and our dog Mckinley. My parents spend half of the year with us and half of the year in Albania.

Hometown: Tirana, Albania

Favorite hobby: Traveling

Favorite show to binge: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Favorite fintech media: https://www.lennyrachitsky.com/

-        Lenny provides both incredibly high value in the information he shares for product leaders and founders as well as very high quality production which makes it entertaining to listen to his podcasts.

-        One of the reasons I am a big fan of Lenny is his backstory and how he has grown this product and company from his times as a PM at Airbnb. His story in itself is inspiring.



Daily Diary


6:00 - 8:30: Wake up, get the kids ready for the day, pack lunches, school drop off.

8:30- 9:45: Meetings block.

9:45-10:00: Standup with the team

10:00 - Noon: Working block

Noon - 3:00: Meetings block

3:00 - 5:00 : Working Block - Prep for the next day

5:00 - 6:30: family Play time

6:30 - 7:30 : Dinner time

5:00 - 7:30 (Working on getting better at doing Date night every other week)

7:30 - 8:30 : Play, read, bath time, get ready for bed

8:30 - 9:30: Work really hard to get the kids to sleep

9:30 - 11:00: Catch up on work, clean up, personal interests.




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