In the strife to be an inspirational leader, one needs to inculcate profound patience, absolute perseverance, steadfast drive and infinite empathy. When a woman, who possesses these virtues, is in a leadership position, no horizons are left uncrossed, no voyages cast adrift, and no doors are left shut. Walking a mile in the shoes of a woman at a leadership position is sufficient for one to learn that the road is arduous and the destination, possibly unwelcoming. Yet, we have witnessed that women have built and bore the very foundation of empires, from scratch to remarkable glory.
One such prominent woman, leading the frontiers of the fintech revolution, is Michelle O’Connor, the VP of Communications and Community at Uphold Inc. Pertaining to her position, she caters to all the organization’s aspects of public relations, internal and external communications, content marketing, community management, event and speaking participation along with social media strategy. She retains a strong belief in and works to embody the ethos prescribed by many entrepreneurs. She believes in operating outside of the fear of failure. Her go-to mantra is, quoting her, “When you see failure on the horizon, do not be discouraged. Find the courage to press on and use that failure to find success.”
Michelle is passionate about the endless potential of blockchain technology, FinTech and the potential of this emerging industry. She is an active member through a myriad of blockchain and FinTech/FinServ groups which focus on the growth and expansion of women in the blockchain space. Moreover, she is currently advising a small number of start-ups that are working in the blockchain space, on their social media and community growth strategies.
Being a Forerunner
Uphold Inc.’s mission is to create trusted access to digital money and financial services. It has over 1 million customers in over 200 countries. “Whether it’s through a smartphone or another internet connected device, our digital money platform is virtually anywhere our members are,” states Michelle. At Uphold, the community’s enthusiasm, dedication and support drives it forward. As the company’s VP of Community, Michelle is dedicated to the community it has been committed to supporting since its founding.
This community is at the forefront of how the company diversifies its offerings, and Uphold’s features are heavily influenced by feedback from members. “In fact, if you take a look at Twitter, TrustPilot, or private community pages, a consistent theme in our feedback/reviews is our dedication to providing what our members want and have asked for,” Michelle expresses. “As a team, we are all aware of how important our members are. We remain focused on keeping this conversation going!” she adds.
Commenting upon how Uphold strategizes its game plans to tackle competition in the market, Michelle states, “It’s been said that a rising tide lifts all boats. Without competition, there is less innovation, little advancement, and a decreased opportunity for consumers to choose their preferred brand. It’s rare that one product or brand appeals to everyone.” Michelle opines that in a disruptive industry like blockchain and crypto-currency, competition is Uphold’s ecosystem. The company is literally disrupting the legacy banking industry while introducing a new method of financial transaction via the blockchain and crypto-currency. She also comprehends that it’s a lot for consumers, regulators, and lawmakers to understand and trust.
Michelle recognizes that without competition, the company would be something that’s looking to enact change, impart transparency, and evolve the consumer and regulatory sentiment. “It’s not impossible, but it would take endless amounts of money and time,” she says.
Through healthy and honest competition, Uphold is among some of the most innovative companies in its space. Through its own efforts, it is working in this industry towards the creation of a secure, transparent, and mainstream-ready industry.
A Leader’s Perspective
Talking about her idea of the vital attributes which every leader should possess, Michelle emphasizes, “The most successful leaders embody empathy, understanding, and confidence without ego. In the FinTech industry, there is a trend to work from ego vs. empathy. However, the most impactful and respected leaders I know are also the most humble and approachable.”
When asked for her insights on the frequent challenges faced by women leaders in workplaces and the ways to tackle them, Michelle expresses, “I’d take a step back from women leaders in the workplace and mention, anyone in the workplace who is part of a minority group is generally working much harder to achieve the same success as their legacy counterparts.” Michelle states that there have been three key pillars in her path to success, which are, being reliable, unapologetic in her decisions, and steadfast in her roles. As a woman leader in FinTech, She doesn’t view colleagues by their gender. She views them by their role, how they interact, and how as a company they work together towards a common goal.
“I’m thankful that as a society, we have become aware and are finally having real conversations about issues like workplace equality. I am in a group for Moms in Tech – a group could truly accomplish anything. Our steadfast support of one another is a daily source of inspiration! I see you #MINTS,” Michelle expresses.
The Future Holds Progress
Michelle says that she’s continuously working to advance and expand her skill set and knowledge. Being precise, she’d love to continue working with a mentor. She’s found her current mentors’ guidance and feedback life-changing. In turn, she’d like to take on a mentee this year. She finds it really important to simultaneously be a student and a teacher. For the long term, her goal is to enroll in an executive MBA program. To conclude, in her advice to the emerging tech enthusiasts, Michelle says, “Be agile, be eager, be innovative, and be reliable. Don’t be afraid to solve your problems, or to help solve your team’s problems. Be proactive and always think about how you can next make an impact.”