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Meet The Female Leaders Of Finance: “Companies have to wake up to the fact that more diversity — again, not just more women — leads to better decisions and better performance.” with Karla Friede and Tyler Gallagher

Individuals can only do so much. This is not going to happen organically, or it would have happened already. Change has to come from the top — for society, and from the board and the C-suite within companies. Companies have to wake up to the fact that more diversity — again, not just more women — leads to better decisions and […]


Individuals can only do so much. This is not going to happen organically, or it would have happened already. Change has to come from the top — for society, and from the board and the C-suite within companies. Companies have to wake up to the fact that more diversity — again, not just more women — leads to better decisions and better performance. There’s plenty of research to support that, but companies aren’t viewing it as a strategic priority. They’re relegating it to an HR initiative. Right now, it feels like you should do it because it’s the right thing. We have to get to where people recognize that it is the best thing.

As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Karla Friede. Karla Friede is the Chief Executive Officer, co-founder and a member of the board of directors at Nvoicepay, which transforms the massive and expensive effort that goes into paying suppliers into a simple and automated solution. Along with the founding team, Karla has grown Nvoicepay into the leading B2B Payment Automation Software company and is actively involved in strategy, finance, marketing and the design of NvoicePay’s products. Karla has had 20 years of experience in management, finance and marketing roles at both large and early-stage companies. Prior to founding Nvoicepay, she was President and CEO of privately held Zevez Corporation; VP of Marketing for GeoTrust (acquired byVerisign in 2006); Co-founder of The Ascent Group, a strategy consulting firm serving technology firms in the bay area; Director of Marketing at Mentor Graphics, and part of the PBAS team at KPMG. Karla received an MBA from Harvard Graduate School of Business and a BS in Accounting from University of Idaho.


Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occured to you in your career so far?

In early 2010, we were raising a funding round for Nvoicepay, and we presented to an angel network in the Northwest. The winners were to be determined by a vote, with the top two getting funded. The winners were the company that introduced airline service between Seattle and Portland, which was absurd because it’s a business with high fixed costs requiring heavy capital investment and no way to sustain a competitive advantage, and a T-shirt company. They had a design that was very appealing but also no way to sustain any kind of long-term, competitive advantage. It was discouraging, but we laughed about how ridiculous it was.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

What we’re working on now is integration — we were just acquired by FLEETCOR, a leader in business payments. They are smart, they are big, and I’m very excited about how we’re going to provide our solution to the market together. We started Nvoicepay to provide an efficient, automated solution to help businesses get rid of paper-based payments. It’s the kind of solution that once companies have it, they don’t know how they lived without it. But payments automation is still a relatively new category, and today, market penetration is probably less than five percent. As part of FLEETCOR, we can reach new markets quickly and I’m excited about providing many times more customers with our solution.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Accounts payable is the last bastion of paper in just about any business and therefore in the most need of transformation. We’re providing the last mile of automation between buyers and suppliers with an efficient cloud solution that cuts the time and cost of making payments by about 75 percent. We provide a sexy solution for least sexy part of any business.

Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?

I don’t work on Wall Street, but I have been to fintech events there and they are predominantly filled with white males. There are a lot of young women researchers and analysts that have come into finance out of college, but not a lot of women in senior roles. It remains to be seen whether women coming into the industry will make it into those roles in larger numbers. Change isn’t coming fast enough, and it appears women are voting with their feet. When they get into companies that don’t really listen to their ideas or provide opportunity for advancement or reward them for their achievements, they leave. So far, women have voted themselves out of the finance industry. It’s going to take a company that has a different point of view and attracts more diversity — not just more women but a more diverse workforce — that outperforms its rivals for the industry as a whole to change.

Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to this report in CNBC, less than 17 percent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and /or c) society to support this movement going forward?

Individuals can only do so much. This is not going to happen organically, or it would have happened already. Change has to come from the top — for society, and from the board and the C-suite within companies. Companies have to wake up to the fact that more diversity — again, not just more women — leads to better decisions and better performance. There’s plenty of research to support that, but companies aren’t viewing it as a strategic priority. They’re relegating it to an HR initiative. Right now, it feels like you should do it because it’s the right thing. We have to get to where people recognize that it is the best thing.

You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive things one should do to become more financially literate, what would you say? Can you please give a story or example for each.

I have college-age children, and they get a set amount for food and living expenses every two weeks, and they have to decide how to spend it. If they spend more on food or going out, then they have very little to use on clothes or other things. They have to make choices and that gets them accustomed to making good financial decisions.

Buying a car is a great learning opportunity. I just helped my daughter do that, and there were a couple things that came up. One was that the sales person offered her a selection of different license plates, including a Trail Blazers one that cost $40 more, which doesn’t seem like a lot when you’re making a big-ticket purchase like a car. She was like, “Wow, I love the Trail Blazers. Of course I want the Trail Blazers license plate.” And I said, “But you know it’s your money, not mine.” In a nanosecond she said, “I’m not getting it,” and we all busted up laughing.

It was also an opportunity to learn about insurance, which makes them understand more about risk, and why if you get a more expensive car you’re going to have to pay more for insurance.

I think it’s hard for young adults to understand the impact credit can have on their life in terms of the cost of borrowing. I’m encouraging my daughters to open a credit card account and charge a small amount of money on it so that they can watch their credit score change through time. They’re actually terrified of having a credit card, because they’ve heard stories of people ringing up too many bills and getting into trouble, so I’m having to push them a little so they establish a credit history.

On a related note, growing up my parents made more money than my grandparents, but my parents had four kids and they weren’t savers. Whenever I got into a pickle or needed some help, it was my grandparents I turned to. They had blue collar jobs, but they were really good savers. They actually had cold, hard cash they kept in the freezer. That was a powerful lesson for me that it’s not how much you make. It’s how much you save, and that’s a lesson I’ve tried to pass on.

One final way is by encouraging young adults to start a 401(k) and watch it grow. You show them the math on why it is better to invest earlier than waiting till you’re close to retirement and that helps them to understand how money can earn interest and make more money through time.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My husband. He is smart, insightful and empathetic. I trust his counsel. He is the one that listens and gives a really measured response when I’m going off the deep end about something. It’s important to have someone in your life who encourages your dreams and risk taking even when they seem beyond reach.

Professionally, I have to call out Garen Staglin, who I pitched to invest in and become Chairman of the Board of Nvoicepay, because he had such extensive experience in the payments industry. He turned out to be a great mentor. When you’re in a startup, things don’t always go up and to the right all the time, and you end up questioning your actions and thought processes. It’s intense and always on a short time frame. No matter what was happening, Garen was always supportive and encouraging. Having someone that has experience and can give good advice and deliver it in a positive manner is priceless.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It’s okay to fail. What’s not okay is not to move. In startups, you have to move quickly. You have a limited time to get to revenue. Small failures along the way are not a big thing. You learn from it and try again. You keep moving.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I think it would be the “make an impact” movement. I believe every person has the ability and the responsibility to make a positive impact on the people around them. It might be just helping one person for one hour, all the way up to funding a foundation or non-profit if you have the means to do that. We can all take time to help somebody, and we all have something we can offer.

The area where I’d most like to make an impact is in children’s education, helping them get through college and dream bigger, to not settle and go as far as they can.

Thank you for all of these great insights!

About The Author:

Tyler Gallagher is the CEO and Founder of Regal Assets, a “Bitcoin IRA” company. Regal Assets is an international alternative assets firm with offices in the United States, Canada, London and Dubai focused on helping private and institutional wealth procure alternative assets for their investment portfolios. Regal Assets is an Inc. 500 company and has been featured in many publications such as Forbes, Bloomberg, Market Watch and Reuters. With offices in multiple countries, Regal Assets is uniquely positioned as an international leader in the alternative assets industry and was awarded the first ever crypto-commodities license by the DMCC in late 2017. Regal Assets is currently the only firm in the world that holds a license to legally buy and sell cryptos within the Middle East and works closely with the DMCC to help evolve and grow the understanding and application of blockchain technology. In addition to his role with Regal Assets, Tyler is a regular contributor to Forbes, Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global and Authority Magazine. Tyler has also been featured in many news publications and has been a guest expert on “The News with Ed Shultz”. Tyler is a proud member of the Forbes Finance Council a private invite only-group of hand-selected industry leaders.

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