Jaya Vaidyanathan, BCT Digital – An ethical leader with strong work ethics
Interview – Jaya Vaidyanathan, CEO, BCT Digital
In Conversation with Abhimanyu Ghosh, Editor, WCRCLEADERS ASIA
Jaya Vaidyanathan is a leader par excellence. ith her drive to innovate, create trust and be passionate about healthy lifestyle, Jaya has been leading the very successful BCT Digital into great heights.
What makes a strong leader? What are your key leadership strengths that are the strongest attributes of success?
A strong leader is a person, who believes in the ideology of being ethical and civic-minded, encouraging strategic thinking and innovation.
My leadership style is to provide direction, inspiration, exhibit courage, passion, commitment, and ambition. I strongly trust in these traits as they have evidently brought out the strengths and talents of people with whom I work with. Together, we have built teams committed to achieving common goals.
Another aspect that I believe is to recognize the achievements of a team or an individual at the right time, thereby, empowering and motivating them.
Committing to these attributes have led me to be successful with a great sense of achievement.
An accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career? What challenges did you face to reach success?
The most recent success is my entrepreneurial FinTech venture – BCT Digital, with a focus on a national level issue such as the Non-Performing Assets (NPA). Our products enable banks to bring back 500M per bank per year. While we started our journey with just one product, rt360 – Early Warning System (EWS) to tackle NPA, today we have an end-end risk management product suite that can tackle all types of risks faced by a bank. Our products are designed in India, to address the specific complexities of the Indian Banking system and take it to the Global markets, through our approach of ‘Reverse Innovation;’ ‘Make It Local, Go Global’.
Challenges are inevitable and they are part of every business that wants to reach the market with an innovative idea. At BCT Digital, for instance, our initial challenge was with early adoption. To cite an example, we faced considerable resistance in the Indian ecosystem when we introduced our suite of risk management products. Qualifying a public sector RFP in India and having repeatable references within the industry required several qualification criteria and parameters. It is a challenge not only for us but for all companies following the same path to success. I would go ahead and say that the early adoptive phase is a bit challenging but once you cross, it is a nice place to be in.
Internally, as a Founder & CEO of a FinTech, selling your dreams and recruiting people to make them believe those dreams is challenging. You take up a huge responsibility not only in recruitment but also ensuring that the vision stays put and sees through success. Challenging factors can be many, ranging from setting up the business, recruiting your core team, securing the right investors and, impressing your shareholders to buy your dreams. Having said that, it is most definitely glorious eventually when you succeed.
What is a role of a leader in these challenging times? List 5 in order of priority.
I believe that a role of good leader is the ability to inspire both internally and externally and, to get inspired even during all odds. I would like to list those five qualities that are most valuable in my opinion;
- Focusing on personal Integrity with a purpose driven leadership are vital. It cultivates the ability to swoop and soar and at the same time, it makes the leader to celebrate shared success, leading to an outcome-based culture which I leverage as a good motivation strategy and a key leadership attribute
- Believe in your entrepreneurial spirit and keep promoting ventures until you witness the acceptance unfold, especially during challenging times when you do not see any sign of needle moving
- Networking is quintessential and it does not have limitations; the more you network, the stronger the business relationships.
- Never avoid taking risks. Reap rewards, take rejections in your stride
- Health comes first, and it is equally important to consciously put efforts in staying hale and healthy.
What is your vision and how do you share that with your shareholders, employees and others?
My vision is to be a global FinTech leader and transform the entire risk management space for the Banking and Financial Services by ‘Making in India’ for both Indian and global markets. With a mission to provide the much-needed fillip to the banking industry, my vision behind building BCT Digital was to target the Non-Performing Asset issue that was having an impact of more than 10 trillion in the economy.
We strategized to leverage technologies like AI to tackle this mammoth problem and decided to ‘Make it Local, Go Global’ by building products that are specific to the bankers’ needs in India, and yet scalable to the global markets. We followed the “Business First, Technology Agnostic” approach, wherein a team of Bankers, risk practitioners and technologists came together to solve the complexities of the financial sector globally. With this innovative approach, we penetrated in the market and have had great success by implementing rt360-EWS, across many public sector banks in India.
Each bank was enabled to bring bank 500 M each per year. This eventually led to investments on disruptive technologies to build the product for long term scalability. Focusing on using disruptive technologies, like, AI/ML, Predictive Analytics, and Blockchain, to expedite India’s move to the next generation of banking were the successful results of vision for BCT Digital.
How do you drive active business renovations and how does that impact your subordinates?
As a product innovation company, we adopted a combination of strategies to drive active business renovations; we adopted a clear blue ocean strategy, exploring niches in the risk management spectrum that were not covered by the large global risk management products. Most global risk products currently offer a platform using which the banks have to create their own solutions to address business problems in the risk space. Coupled with that, each country has a unique set of risk management concerns that a global outlook cannot resolve. Our entire product philosophy was built on a framework of building for key and important adjacencies in the GRC space.
Impact on Subordinates
The core team with their solid understanding of risks went on to choose an able technical team and the state-of-the-art technical architecture which is appropriate for the disruptive innovation in the banking industry today, viz, AI, ML, Predictive Analytics, Big Data, Micro Services, Mobility, and Open Banking through APIs. The tightly knit team, functions as both OEM and implementation team thus providing the comfort of assured long-term product support to clients and prospects.
How do you integrate corporate philanthropy or corporate social responsibility as a part of your business strategies?
I truly believe in the concept of ‘giving back to the society’. Putting this belief into action, I work with several prominent NGOs, that promotes rehabilitation of mentally challenged women. My priorities are on healthcare, education, women, children, and creating job opportunities for the underprivileged. I also serve as the CSR chair for BCT CSR.
A few of the important areas where there is a huge gap among NGOs are fundraising, fund disbursements, and governance. I thought it was best for me to apply my expertise in this area and provide professional assistance. Social transformation, mental health, women & child empowerment, public healthcare and economic inclusion are some of the issues I work for. It is important to focus on the need to look beyond philanthropy. I encourage executives to lend their expertise to the NGO sector – identifying funding sources, managing investments, risk, and logistics planning to ensure that the NGO sector benefits from the industry.
I have always been passionate about women empowerment. A good part of my personal life has been spent towards this vision. As a member of international boards, I have tried my best to bring the best global corporate governance principles to India, one of which being promoting the socio-economic progress of women, having partaken in various nonprofit outreach programs, in conjunction with Asian Business Leadership Forum, Women Icon India, to name a few. Through our multiple outreach programs, we have established an est. one lakh touch points.
At BCT, I serve as the chairperson of the Women’s Advancement, Transformation, Empowerment, and Recognition (WATER) Committee. A uniquely designed platform that was designed to ensure Gender Equality and Women Empowerment at workplace. WATER focuses on taking a deeper dive into women’s economic empowerment by imparting tools, techniques, learning and mentorship initiatives for women at workplace through engaging thematic programs.
We have exclusive platforms built and developed for women employees to encourage them in multiple ways. Support groups, professional forums, communities and connects to enrich their health, safety and well-being etc. are some of specific areas of focus. I also hold periodic counseling sessions for women at their workplaces. This initiative has improved the women diversity ratio by 10% and the retention of women increased by 30% compared to last year.