We’re pleased to present our latest installment in our feature series – “FintekNews Celebrates #WomenInFintech“. This week, we’d like to introduce you to Sunaina Swaminathan, Head of Data Acquisition for M Science, a data-driven research and analytics firm, uncovering new insights for leading financial institutions and corporations.
NAME: Sunaina Swaminathan
TITLE: Head of Data Acquisition
COMPANY: M Science LLC
WEB ADDRESS: www.mscience.com
1. What does your financial technology firm offer?
M Science is a data-driven research and analytics firm deriving insights through the analysis of alternative data. M Science continues to expand its leadership position through a dynamic, comprehensive tech stack and a full suite of industry experts, data scientists and engineering teams. With over 15 years of experience helping our clients understand data and applying it into to their process, our mission is to uncover actionable intelligence with conviction rooted in data science and industry expertise.
Partnering with dozens of data providers and pioneering new methodologies, M Science solutions are specifically tailored to our investment management and corporate clients in the form of written research reports and curated data analytics available via excel, APIs, and visualization software.
M Science is a portfolio company of Leucadia Investments, a division of Jefferies Financial Group Inc. (NYSE: JEF).
2. What was the personal motivation for you to join your firm?
I have always found the proliferation of data fascinating and its application to financial services mystifying and disruptive. Without any expertise in either field, carving out a career path was difficult and at times blinding. Finding M Science, it was one of those “right place at the right time” moments. M Science was not only a door to enter the world of data, but an opportunity to hone an advanced skill-set through immersion amongst the first-movers in the alternative data industry. I knew if I didn’t take the job, I would miss out on completely reshaping my career. The role was uniquely tailored to my professional development; so completely on me to execute, transform, and challenge myself to magnify my impact across our evolving strategy and continuous innovations.
3. As a business leader, do you feel any advantages or disadvantages in being female as you are 1) managing your business & team internally and 2) growing your business competitively?
It is challenging irrespective of what gender you are. There are a lot of parameters to consider when it comes to building a business and a team (e.g. relationships, egos, emotions, competition, market temperature). I tend to focus on building long term relationships which stands on the foundation of transparency and trust. This has helped me immensely in my career growth.
With diversity present in a work place, the expectation is that each employee will check their personal views at the door; yet, expectation isn’t always the outcome. Instead, focus on establishing a strong culture of acceptance, mentor by setting consistent examples and believe in your team more than they may believe in themselves. This focus diverts from personal agendas and drives cohesiveness. A team that cohesively pushes their limits is open to taking on challenging initiates without feeling threatened. The ultimate competitive moat: A wholesome unit working towards a common goal.
4. Do you feel you are at a competitive advantage – or disadvantage – as a female fintech business leader– or neither?
Looking at industry statistics, we notice that female leadership is rare, yet on the rise. Being a part of this movement, we are shifting the norm away from gender-dominated leadership. My hope is that, for the younger generation, gender based imbalances will dissolve especially when it comes to leadership roles. I’m honored to participate in setting this new standard for the younger generations.
5. Do you feel there are more women in financial technology leadership roles than in other business sectors? If so, why or why not?
No, it’s the opposite. The tech industry historically was male dominated, yet increasingly today we see a rise in female participation. We still have a long way to go, though, people today are more receptive to women who are actively climbing up the labor ladder. I’m inspired and influenced by women leaders; this trend is starting to become contagious.
6. Do you think the trend will continue where we will see more women in leadership roles in fintech (Yes/No) and why?
100% Yes. We have some great examples in the industry right now and people are acknowledging them. Companies and influential organizations such as Women Who Code are providing a platform where women can learn to build the necessary skill-sets required to thrive in the tech world.
Women are a lot more forthcoming and are undeterred to take on challenging roles.
Sunaina heads Data Acquisition at M Science where she is responsible for sourcing global alternative data, identifying use cases, onboarding data partners and is integral to executing the firm’s data strategy. She has had the opportunity to work in multiple industries – food, retail & technology – and around the globe including China, Hong Kong and India. Her combination of sales experience, an MBA degree from Syracuse University and a certificate in negotiation mastery from Harvard University gives her all the tools to be successful in this fast-paced industry.