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Women’s Day Special: Jijy Oommen, CTO , Kinara Capital

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Jijy Oommen, the CTO of Kinara Capital is an out and out techie. The fintech company is growing fast and driving financial inclusion of small business entrepreneurs in India. It provide loans upto Rs. 25 lakhs without property collateral with a turnaround of 5-7 days. In an interaction with Express Computer, she points out that Kinara Capital is the place to look out for if one has to see the favourable position of the women folks working there.

“One of the main reasons that I was drawn to joining Kinara Capital is its unique position in this industry as a women-led company. Here, I get to contribute to the broader company vision and strategy beyond the areas that are technology considerations,” she says.

Here are more from the interaction.

What is the one career advice that you still abide to?

Play to your strengths. You should identify what you enjoy doing. Often, people are limited by believing there is only one acceptable successful career path. It used to be true that opportunities were limited but since India has transformed, a lot of new career paths are possible today. With technology advancements, it is even to find resources to identify your personality traits, strengths, research for jobs and connect with other professionals, and even take online classes. So, focus on finding your strengths because when you are good at and like the work you do, you are likely to find joy and help others.

Do you believe in having a gender balance in your team ? If yes, how do you encourage women in your team to take up leadership roles ?

Kinara Capital is one of the few fintechs with a majority women-led management team and that sets the tone differently. I am proud of the inclusive work culture we foster at Kinara. At our head office in Bangalore, we are almost at an equal split between men and women.

One thing that helps to encourage women into leadership roles is to provide a flexible work culture. At Kinara, we are a goal-oriented organization so you are not tethered to your workspace. In fact, we do not have any desktop computers provided. I like to offer flexibility to my team to work anywhere as long as the project is being completed.

Another way to encourage women to take leadership roles is to provide mentorship and career coaching. I do believe the role of a leader must extend beyond core deliverables and towards helping your team advance in their professional goals.

What’s the next big technology (in general and at Kinara Capital) you are excited about?

Our turnaround time from inquiry to disbursement is 80 percent faster than the industry average due to the use of technology at every step. We have built proprietary tech that enables us to provide loans without property collateral to small businesses. Our digital processes have enabled faster access to data by all levels ensuring consistency and speed. We  eliminated a ton of paperwork in the process.

Lending is a complex process so there are many layers with new customer sourcing, verification, compliance, post-disbursement follow ups, etc. This is where we are continuing to adopt Robotic Process Animation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) processes. I am most excited about RPA because faster and accurate processing leads to an enhanced customer experience. RPA on average could lead to a cost savings of 25 to 50 percent for financial services companies.

Which is the one woman personality you admire the most and why ?

There are many notable women working hard everyday in all spheres of life. I am proud to know many such women personally too. If you are going to make me choose one personality, then I have to say Indra Nooyi. She has been inspiring legions of women worldwide and will continue to inspire many more.

It is so rare for a woman to rise to the position of CEO of a global consumer brand, let alone that be an Indian woman to be ranked as one of the most powerful women in the world. Her educational and professional achievements are certainly commendable. I also admire how much she has done to help working mothers, and to drive equality in the workplace. I also liked that she is realistic about the challenges of a woman in a leadership role in her media appearances. Her best advice that will always stay with me is “Make Simple the Complex.”

What Technology initiatives have been undertaken in the CY 2019 at Kinara Capital and what are the plans for 2020?

In many ways, we first think about delivering top customer experience but when you are overseeing all tech needs, my organization has two clients – the employees and the customers.

Last year was a transformational one for Kinara Capital. Keeping up with the fast pace of growth, both internally and externally, has pushed the IT team to think of creative solutions and keep up with the pace. We have over 1300 employees across 110 branches and the head office and all have unique tech needs. For our employees, we have implemented new enterprise resource planning (ERP) software that streamlined infrastructure procurement and maintenance and IT support. We have also launched a revised Human Resource Management System (HRMS).

We have spent years building our back-end operational technology systems that enables us to provide fast and flexible loans to small businesses. Our focus is now to bring the digital processes to the front-end for our customers. Our typical customer today compared to even 5 years ago is a lot more tech-savvy and has a smartphone so we want to find news ways to connect with them digitally.

We launched a Kinara Capital mobile app that provides them with real-time updates on their loans and the options to make payments online. In the coming year, we want to be even faster in our response and verification paving the way to go to the next level of transformation. We are planning on launching AI chatbots, digital KYC, new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software for our field and call center teams. We will be using machine learning at the back-end to keep improving our processes so that we continue to be confident lenders with a tech-first model. The focus of all our technology efforts is on delivering the top customer experience.


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