We need to… focus on getting more students in high schools and colleges to take STEM courses and build on their analytical skills/ learnability
Build/ seek a more active network of trusted mentors
Leverage technology to make work-life integration easier
Build a path to bring people back to work if they had chosen to take a break in their careers along the way
I had the pleasure of interviewing Priya Bajoria, Senior Vice President, at Publicis Sapient. Priya has extensive experience in industry transformation utilizing digital technologies and innovation with a unique background in consulting & investment banking. Prior to joining Publicis Sapient, Priya lead Infosys’ North American capital markets business. Before joining Infosys in 2000, she was an Investment Banker with Merrill Lynch in Asia. Priya is a champion of diversity in organizations, a sponsor/ mentor of women’s leadership networks and actively volunteers for CSR initiatives.
Thank you for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Banking/Finance field?
In the mid-90s when I was graduating with my MBA degree in Finance, the Indian economy was just opening up and there were exciting opportunities available in the Banking industry. I got a job as an Analyst in the Investment Banking team of DSP Merrill Lynch Ltd and that’s how I started my career in this industry. In 2000, I joined Infosys as they were just setting up a Consulting Practice to focus on Capital Markets. In this role, I was able to leverage both my undergraduate degree in Computer Science and my Finance background to solve business problems for clients. For the last several years, I helped grow the Banking and Capital Markets Practice of Infosys. I have recently joined Publicis Sapient where we are utilizing digital technologies to transform businesses of Financial Services firms and creating a differentiated experience for their consumers.
Can you share with our readers an interesting story that occurred to you in your career so far?
I used to volunteer with a local non-profit organization in New York on their STEM initiative for middle school kids in underserved communities. One afternoon I was at a DNA extraction workshop with these kids where I got a chance to interact with a gentleman who was representing a leading Bank. A few years later, he had become a very senior executive at the bank. I was able to re-connect with him and he has since been a valuable mentor to me in my professional career.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
There is significant activity in the area of data science/ artificial intelligence in Financial Services. It has tremendous potential to help people, whether it is about providing access to credit to the underbanked leveraging alternative data sources to calculate risk, or predicting credit card fraud or reducing cases of anti-money laundering based on sophisticated analysis of historical data and projections, thereof.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I am really excited to be at Publicis Sapient, a firm that has been a pioneer in digital business transformation. The multi-dimensional relationships that now exist in Financial Services require a partner with both best-in-class digital capabilities and also deep industry domain knowledge to become the ‘connected tissue’ and help them reimagine their business of the future.
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?
There has been a gradual evolution in the industry overall and it is not specific to financial services. There is definitely more awareness about the topic of diversity and inclusion nowadays with some firms doing more about it than others. Publicis Sapient is committed to this cause and in the past few weeks alone, has hired four women, including myself, in leadership positions. It has been great to celebrate these successes, inspire ourselves and motivate those around us to be the best at what we do, so we can continue to break more glass ceilings, some of which may just be in our minds while some may be real.
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?
- Focus on getting more students in high schools and colleges to take STEM courses and build on their analytical skills/ learnability
- Build/ seek a more active network of trusted mentors
- Leverage technology to make work-life integration easier
- Build a path to bring people back to work if they had chosen to take a break in their careers along the way
According to this report in Fortune, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. In your opinion or experience, what is the cause of these unfortunate numbers? If you had the power to make a change, what 3 things would you recommend to improve these numbers?
Whatever may have been the reasons historically, we have the power to change this now and for future generations.
- Helping kids stay engaged in the school curriculum and graduate from high school
- Access to financial education early on, using gamification within classes at school or college
- Leveraging technology to making financial literacy tools available more widely, perhaps through a Netflix for learning
You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 3 non-intuitive essentials for smart investing what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?
1) Start saving early, $100 saved today will go longer than $100 saved 5 years from now
2) Become a part of a meet-up of trusted individuals, where you can learn about investment choices
3) Don’t borrow and spend, use credit cards mostly as a convenience
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My sister and I have been lucky to be born to parents who have always encouraged us to work hard and make the most of what life has to offer today. No field of study or career was out of bounds just because we were girls. They gave unconditional support as we made life choices and still continue to lead by example.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
‘Do your best and leave the rest’; this life lesson has really helped me. I have tried to learn something positive from every difficult experience and emerged stronger.
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.
Making education easily accessible for as many people, regardless of age, gender, race or religion. One effective way this could happen is if we had more teachers in the world, if all of us who have had the privilege of a good education, volunteer to teach at least one topic that we know and are passionate about. “Each One Teach at least One”.
Thank you for all of these great insights!