Our Technology Spotlight, Wale Abba, is a Nigerian Fintech Entrepreneur. The brain behind the widely adopted Quickteller by Interswitch and several other fintech solutions that have greatly impacted the banking & finance landscape in Nigeria.
With all he has accomplished, it was interesting to discover that Wale was not always certain of what he wanted for his own personal development. In his own words, Wale describes his development as “experimental”.
Growing up as the youngest of nine children born to a politician in Lagos State’s Amuwo-Odofin Local Government, his first serious exposure to graphic design came when he designed campaign fliers for his father’s political campaign. His previous stint with designing was done for fun while he was playing Commando Stimulator in cyber cafes.
Having been in the game for 15 years, Wale Abba is in the process of passing on the knowledge, experience, and influence he has gathered to young people, something he calls “the greatest investment”. Enjoy his interview with us.
Tell us what you do as Chief Growth Officer for Indicina?
I oversee our sales, user experience, partnerships, and marketing while serving as the Indicina Brand Ambassador.
Can you detail your journey into Fintech?
Once during a job interview, a CEO said this to me “You do everything. Who really are you?”
I started undergrad thinking I would pursue Business Information Technology but after a few grueling months waiting for my admission, I took on the challenge to pursue a degree in Creative Computing Technology (CCT) and help increase the number of African students in CCT at my university. It required a lot of all-nighters, classes in advanced mathematics where I couldn’t foresee the real-world application, but I was proud to graduate from the University of Portsmouth.
While I haven’t used differential equations in a real-life application, logical thinking and design optimization frameworks have helped me tremendously in my career since graduation.
To survive the UK hustle, I started building & designing websites for businesses. I quickly realized that to make more money, I needed to focus on clients in Nigeria (Nigerians pay/spend more) – I made so much money between 2005 – 2012. I built platforms for LASU, Future Africa, HiTV, Eko Hotel, to mention a few. I even got nominated for the best use of technology in Nigeria. In December 2008, the UK Immigration services listed my company as one of the top 50 Web Service companies in the UK to bid for its website redesign project.
I achieved a lot, but I was unhappy. My communication skills were poor, my business partner was the face of the company as he communicated better than I could. This gave me Low self-esteem eh? I wanted more. I wanted to earn the necessary badge that qualifies me to sit with CEOs. I was good at what I did, but I lacked the staying power.
So, here’s what I do? I left the UK and moved back to Nigeria to start all over again. After university, my first job was at Interswitch where I was the only product designer out of 15-17 developers in the department. It was intimidating at first but I quickly realized that I was as capable as any of my colleagues and my technical advantage in design really set me apart.
My curiosity to be in the room where the questions were asked eventually led me to experience Sales, Product Marketing, and Engineering. I have done it all. Despite the fact that my roles and responsibilities have accelerated quickly in the last 10 years, I would often look around meeting rooms and wonder how and if I belonged there.
What are some of the challenges you encounter in your role with Indicina?
Indicina builds open banking products that help lenders make better and faster credit decisions with minimal risk. Most of these lenders have a traditional lending process – selling to them requires patience. I find myself redefining my strategy just to get their attention. Pretty tough, but exciting.
Speak to us on how you have dealt with challenges through life?
I handle all challenges the same way – Sleep! Challenges are always short-term. There is no long-term challenge in my opinion. It is all about your mind. Think less of it, watch it fade.
Can you share a mantra you live by?
My mantra: “I am a peacock, and I will fly”. The common belief is that peacocks are not able to take flight easily because of their large tails. Well, I will show you peacocks can fly.
Topics: Tech Spotlight, Tech Entrepreneurs, Wale Abba, The CANs Park