Women mentoring women is the best way to inspire change. Increased community-driven mentorship will give women a place to have open and honest conversations that are hindering them from being a part of these opportunities. At the end of the day, we have to help one another in order to take action and implement change.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Shubhi Rao. Shubhi is the Chief Financial Officer at Dosh where she brings value, trust, and transparency to consumers and merchants by overseeing the company’s financial success as well as using her strong technical background to accelerate the growth of the fintech platform. Prior to Dosh, she was the VP of Finance and Treasurer of Alphabet/Google, Group Treasurer of Tesco PLC in London and also held senior Treasury leadership roles for over a decade with Ford Motor and Ford Credit in Michigan and London. Shubhi presently serves on the Boards of two think tanks; ICRW (International Center for Research on Women) and CGD(Center for Global Development). She remains an Honorary Member of the Federal Reserve of San Francisco. She holds an MBA from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science Engineering from Michigan State University.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Banking/Finance field?
Transactions are core to human interactions and the financial industry has developed innovations to make these interactions more efficient. For over 20 years, I’ve been fortunate enough to work for companies within a variety of industries — including technology, retail, and automotive — and I’ve witnessed these transformations first hand. Since I started my career, I’ve been inspired by how much positive change technology can bring to financial services if applied with a commitment to improving people’s lives for good. I have a strong desire to eradicate financial inefficiencies that create barriers for people — whether that means consumers or merchants delivering products or services. The reason I’m just as passionate today as I was when I started my career is because I see tremendous opportunities to democratize antiquated systems in commerce.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far?
The first memory that comes to mind is a rather laughable situation I found myself in when I was working and pregnant. I was in the last part of my third trimester, about eight months pregnant, and struggling to walk the long sidewalk from the parking lot to the office due to heavy snowfall in March. I asked the Safety Department if I could use a temporary pass to park in the disability bay, so I could more easily get to the office. No problem — right? Well, the employee told me that I needed to get a doctor’s note to prove there was a medical reason I needed that handicap space.
Standing there speechless, I just looked at him. I didn’t know what to say so I obliged. When I went to my doctor to request a written medical condition, he had a few choice words about how ridiculous the situation was and wrote my note.
Honestly, I still laugh at this experience today. But when I think about that time, I can’t help but think about how many women in their careers experienced the same treatment or worse. I’ve learned much about awareness and judgement from that experience; I’ve found that the people I admire most are perceptive enough to see beyond the rules and expectations, and they go the extra mile to do the right thing for others.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I’m thrilled about the launch of hotel bookings through the Dosh app. I believe it’s going to open up the world for millions of people. With the average household income just over $60,000 per year, most families don’t have the opportunity to enjoy travel. Just to put that in context, the average trip to Disneyland will cost a family of four roughly $4,500. That’s nearly one twelfth of a family’s annual income!
With the launch of our hotel booking feature, we’re giving families access to over 600K hotels over the world at extremely competitive rates, in addition to earning up to 40% cash back. The economics will be so impactful for individuals and families who otherwise can’t afford to travel.
The opportunity to travel is core to our education and in shaping our perspectives — I truly believe if people have access to see more of the world, not only will it bring them incredible joy, but it will make the world a better place.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Many companies have a mission statement, few actually practice that mission statement, and even fewer companies continually attract talent as a result of that mission. At Dosh, our mission is to positively impact people’s lives financially by moving billions of dollars of wasted advertising spend to millions of people. One of the big focus points in our company is to help struggling families earn cash back so they can improve the quality of their life — whether that means hiring a babysitter so they can enjoy a date night or having extra money for holiday gifts for their children.
I can reference countless people, talented enough to work anywhere, that chose to work at Dosh because of our mission-centric culture.
Just last week, at our all-hands, one of our operations developers shared her reason for joining the company: at one point in her career she was a financially struggling single mother who worked to make ends meet and often sacrificed eating dinner so she had enough money to feed her children. She was the very person Dosh works to help every single day. I have no doubt our company will succeed because we’re lucky enough to have people like her shaping our product.
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 lot of talk around the “boy’s club” mentality in the finance and technology industries — in fact, it exists in most industries. However, if you peel the curtains back in history you’ll find endless examples of men in leadership positions who had strong women supporting and advising them.
Women bring a different approach and level of passion to solving genuine problems to the financial industry. They help balance the importance of building a successful business while maintaining a focus on greater societal benefits — a mentality which will ultimately bring greater success and impactful results in the long-term. Success in business is not just about the exit valuation or IPO, it’s about how an organization decides to get there and what considerations are made along the way.
As new technologies inundate the industry, all women, regardless of their career paths or socio-economic status should be empowered to have a strong voice to ensure we participate in the next generation of innovation and thus break down the walls of the “boy’s club.”
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?
You’re right. There’s still a lot more we need to do to ensure women have a seat at the table. First, I think it’s key that women are provided with an education at a young age inspiring them to set goals and achieve them. From there, we need to increase the number of college courses (and for that matter high school as well) that focus on helping young women learn not only about the financial industry but about the technologies that are going to continue to reshape the industry such as automation, data-mining, and distributed ledgers.
In addition to education, it’s important to focus on regulations that aid and encourage women in leadership roles like California’s mandate that a woman be on public corporate boards by 2020. Regulations like these are giving women a voice and an opportunity to be a part of boards that have been historically dominated by men. This is just a start for getting more women into leadership roles.
Finally, women mentoring women is the best way to inspire change. Increased community-driven mentorship will give women a place to have open and honest conversations that are hindering them from being a part of these opportunities. At the end of the day, we have to help one another in order to take action and implement change.
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.
Actually, I just had this conversation with my 19 year-old son. As a Gen Z’er he’s a true digital native and has access to apps and softwares that make it much easier to track his personal finances and investments. However, most financial principles are timeless, so here’s what I would say:
– Financial literacy is important — learn the basics in order to help set up smart financial goals
– Build good credit — it will afford you access to better rates for large investments
– Understand your bank statements — analyze your deposits versus spend at least monthly to make sure you are managing within your budget
– Utilize technology to manage your finances — automated monthly payments are easy to setup and make managing your bills stress-free. There are also great apps to help with budgeting goals and investments
– Hold yourself accountable for the financial decisions you make no matter how small they are
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?
The biggest force behind me has been my Dad. His unconditional love and support has helped me to take calculated risks and make smart choices. There are so many beloved stories I have of his advice but one that really stands out is when I was in London and torn between joining a large corporation in a senior Treasury leadership role or joining PwC to help establish a practice in Treasury, Risk and Capital.
Not having any advisory experience, Big 4 experience or any network to speak of in London, it was a daunting proposition to join PwC. Joining Corporate Treasury was very much in my comfort zone. However, Dad’s guidance (he was a Professor in Mechanical Engineering) was that PwC would give me the most opportunity to grow and learn while allowing me to bring my technical and leadership experience to PwC.
This was my moment of “The road not taken” and looking back I am glad I accepted PwC as this ended up being an incredible experience for me. I helped to establish a successful practice within PwC, built a really strong network in London and most importantly got the opportunity to work with numerous large global Financial Services organizations. Over the course of my career I can trace my Dad’s advice which prompted me to make some unconventional and daring choices that helped me develop both personally and professionally.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite “Life Lesson Quote” is that “Authenticity is true alignment between one’s words and actions”. As a minority woman I’ve faced quite a bit of race and gender bias throughout my career. It is profoundly challenging to overcome other people’s beliefs, attitudes and experiences. However, the values that my parents instilled in me have helped me to not shy away from addressing uncomfortable or difficult topics and not be afraid of doing the right thing.
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. 🙂
The movement I am incredibly passionate about is accelerating our transition from cash to digital payments. The ability to trace money can not only empower people to be more efficient and accountable, it could also eradicate the incredible amount of harm “dark” money has created in our society as well as in developing countries: from human trafficking, money laundering, drug cartels, and to the underbanked population.
Thank you for all of these great insights!