Behind every creation and every product you encounter, there is a hand story.
At Keyo, we love hands. Hands not only make us human, but they also contain our identity. This week we have an interview from Andrea Marcos, a Risk & Credit Manager from Mexico City.
Check out her story below.
Where are you from?
What do you do?
I am a Risk and Credit Manager at Tala, a mission-driven mobile technology and data science company that's expanding financial access to the 3 billion underserved people globally. Even though it's headquartered in Santa Monica, CA, we operate in emerging markets like Kenya, Philippines, and Mexico to serve an emerging class of consumers that we underwrite based on their Android data.
I am also Chairman of the Latinas in Tech LA Chapter, where we organize tech meet-ups to connect, support, and empower Latinx to excel in their careers in tech.
How did you get started?
I graduated from Northwestern University after completing a Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences (MMSS) program, which allowed me to study a unique combination of disciplines: statistics and sociology. It allowed me to study what I enjoy the most - behavior of people - through the use of quantitative formal analytical methods, which is how I feel most comfortable using to make decisions. I couldn't find a major like this in Mexico, which is why I came to the U.S. to complete my studies.
After getting experience as a data analyst in the telecommunication space at the biggest telecom company in Latin America, I came back to the U.S. to complete a Masters program in Mathematical Finance which gave me the opportunity to apply for jobs in the U.S. to ground my academic skills using actual consumer technology data. I was hired by a fintech start-up, ZestFinance because I had the horsepower. I learned R and SQL in my first two weeks in the job, after staying late hours with the Accounting team listening to Latin salsa and reggaeton music almost every night. It has been one of the most fun learning experiences of my life.
Within a year, I was managing a $30M portfolio, with a $1M marketing budget to spend per month. I believed I thrived in that environment because I felt comfortable being myself, asking questions, and I learned how to receive constant feedback and appreciate it. I realized how much I love working in a technology start-up because of the diverse working environment, the fast pace while being able to control your own schedule and the challenging problems you work on through the analysis of the data you have available. You cannot get bored from continually learning from your mistakes with a team that supports you while you're trying to have a positive impact in the world through the use of technology.
I was then hired by Tala to do exactly what I loved at ZestFinance but to serve my own country while working for a global start-up and help expand financial access, choice, and control to the emerging class of consumers who have been underserved until now. Hopefully, we can leave this world slightly more equitable than how I found it in my lifetime.
What do you love most about what you do?
The impact that our work has on millions of people around the world. The rise of smartphone penetration among women in the developing world has allowed companies like Tala to empower women through access to credit and allow them to challenge their limits, connect to more women who support each other and become self-sustainable. This is allowing a rising class of consumers to be reached and understood for the first time in history. And that is fascinating to me because we will be able to use this data (previously unavailable) to make better decisions and better policies.
Where do you get your inspiration?
My client's stories. I travel to Mexico and the Philippines, which are the two portfolios I manage, to talk to clients and understand them in their context. This is what I love about my job because I have a direct feedback loop from the people that my decisions are directly affecting. I look at big data trends, but I always try to validate the WHY behind these trends by just talking to the people we serve at Tala.
What are some tips for other people to follow your path?
Be intellectually curious. There have been countless times where I knew an answer to something because I had been interested enough to dig into the trend and learn something new. I don't limit myself in only doing my job responsibilities. If I see, I can help a colleague or a friend solving a problem or unblocking a project I jump right in and try to find data that can guide me in making informed decisions.
Any favorite books, songs, podcasts, shows?
Some of my favorite books are Sapiens (Yuval Noah Harari), Falling Upward (Richard Rohr), The Soul of Money (Lynne Twist), Animal Spirits (George Akerlof and Robert Shiller) among many others...
What's identity to you?
For me, identity is the outcome of your experiences and perceptions, and it is constantly changing. The more we challenge our limits and get out of our comfort zone, the more our identity is defined. As we get exposed to different ways of living, thinking acting, believing, connecting, and expressing ourselves our identity evolves and becomes less variant as we grow since we get more comfortable with our own skin. But I also believe that our identities never keep evolving, and it's magical when you find partners and friends who are open to embracing your evolving identity as you grow together.
At Keyo, we love hearing from creators who are doing exciting and inspirational things. By featuring bi-weekly hand stories, we give them a platform to share their unique story so that they can inspire others to be proud of what they do and who they are.
Want to be featured in our next one? Feel free to contact us!