Josephine Mbire is the Head of Customer Support at banking platform Spot Money. She has spent the last decade in the digital customer support space in start-ups. Her passion lies in creating authentic human connections, and using technology to generate business value and improve people’s lives.
Can you tell us about yourself and your career path thus far?
I like to take on all aspects of my life with a sense of positivity and appreciation. I hold a post-graduate qualification from UCT and I’ve spent the last decade advancing my career in the digital customer support space. My passion lies in creating authentic human connections. My tenured experience working with tech start-ups has inspired my interest on how innovative tech can be leveraged to generate business value while improving people’s everyday lives.
Your passion lies in creating authentic human connections, and using technology to generate business value and improving the lives of people - what motivates this passion?
I believe that everyone should have access to tools that make their lives easier. When this happens, people have more time to focus on the things that matter, such as family, friends and time for hobbies and creativity. When you marry humanity and tech, you give people a little time back and this is what motivates me. For example, at Spot Money people can do their transactional banking and shop a lifestyle marketplace all in one app – keeping things simple (because most things in life aren’t) and saving time!
How can (and should) women play a bigger role in the Fintech industry?
Data and strategy are major themes in the Fintech industry. But we often forget that all businesses are people based. Women can play a bigger role by reminding the industry to remain compassionate and people focused.
How can we prepare women to fill FinTech role and bring more women into the industry?
I think celebrating each other as women goes a long way in preparing us to fill Fintech roles. When we celebrate each other, we give each other the confidence needed to take on complex challenges.
What challenges do women face in the industry?
I think the biggest challenge women face is being under-estimated. This means that sometimes you’ll need to work twice as hard to prove that you’re capable of the tasks at hand. On the plus side, you become accustomed to hard work and it gets easier.
Which woman has positively impacted you in your career/business? And what is the one lesson she taught you?
My mum positively influenced my career. I’ve learned that it’s possible to be a multi-faceted woman. You’re allowed to be assertive and compassionate at the same time.
What are the three words that spring to mind when you hear Women's Day/Month?
Empowerment, acknowledgement, and independence.
In your industry or in general, have you seen any more movement to gender equality in the workplace?
Honestly, I believe we still have a long way to go with seeing movement to gender equality. Women still need to prove their worth in a male-dominated industry. Gender equality in the workplace will happen when women are equally recognised as capable without having to go the extra mile.
As a woman who looks to inspire young girls that look like you what are some of the measures you think should be put in place to assure young girls have an equal say in society?
Mentorship and exposure - when young girls are regularly mentored and exposed to strong women in leadership positions, it normalises the idea that they can have an equal say in any environment.
With Black Lives Matter being at the forefront and black people calling out racism and transformation, what do you think we can teach the next generation about inclusion and representation?
It’s important to teach the next generation that there is power in diversity. As diverse as the world is, people are still afraid of people different to them. If we teach the next generation that there’s more to learn in our differences than our sameness, we won’t have to call out racism and transformation as often as we do.
As a modern African woman, who is a powerhouse in her own right, how do you maneuver the African expectations for what Africa believes a woman should be, particularly in countries that are rooted in patriarchy like ours?
My ability to navigate those expectations is largely due to the way my father raised me. He instilled the notion that my gender is not a limitation, so I’ve always been able to maneuver patriarchal society because of my confidence in my own capabilities.
What are some of the great possibilities about being a woman in the world right now, that may not be easy to see but you feel women should take full advantage of without being ashamed or afraid?
It’s a great time to be a woman. Technology has allowed us to see that there’s so many ways to live and express yourself as a woman. There are also more opportunities for women now than ever before. We should take full advantage of this and create our own identities that are free from patriarchal constructs.
The imposter syndrome is something a lot of women confess to suffer from or have suffered from. Have you ever had to deal with it? What would you say to another woman reading this about not letting the syndrome run one’s life in anyway?
LOL, yes imposter syndrome is definitely a thing and I’ve suffered from it myself. When I was given the position of Head of Customer Support, I doubted my competency, but I pushed through anyway. I’ve learned that being curious and proactive in your area of work helps you to overcome imposter syndrome.