To kick off our brand new Employee Spotlight series, we’d like to introduce you to Kamal Hassin, Head of Partnerships at FISPAN. Kamal is a relatively new hire at FISPAN, starting in the last quarter of 2020. Kamal joins our team with a diverse business background. Previously, Kamal was a Director of a start-up bank in Silicon Valley. Kamal currently holds an MBA in Finance and another master’s degree in Technology Innovation Management Engineering.
Let’s get to know a little more about Kamal, how he got into FinTech, and what ultimately brought him to FISPAN.
What were some key factors in your decision to come to FISPAN?
This may seem a cliché, but it’s the people. I’ve worked for many different entrepreneurs and Lisa is the main reason I came to FISPAN. When I had that first conversation, I knew she was very results driven and placed a high importance on accountability. That’s the attitude and communication style I love to work with. The people I talk to on an everyday basis are just very humble, yet wicked smart. The role itself, Head of Partnerships, also appealed to me because it's very cross functional; we are not a five-person start-up, but there is the ability to contribute to multiple projects. Even though there has been a foundation laid, it was really a blank canvas for me to not only develop a strategy but to execute my role.
I've worked in very small companies with 5-15 employees and a financial institution with over 3000 people. FISPAN is a fast-growing company and just feels like the right fit for me to take my career to the next level.
What is your favourite part of working at FISPAN?
The people and the culture. One of the best things about being part of the management team at FISPAN is that we appreciate everyone's intelligence and experience, and lines of communication are open across all departments. We are not all experts in all fields, but everyone’s opinion is valid and appreciated.
How has the move between your previous roles, including being the Director of a start-up bank in Silicon Valley, to the Head of Partnerships at FISPAN been for you so far?
We have the ability to experiment at FISPAN and we’re encouraged to make educated guesses and run tests. There’s more risk involved, but the opportunity, result, and upside are much greater. It can be scary, but exciting at the same time. I also really like the hands-on component; the only way you're going to learn is by jumping in and doing it. No one is going to hold your hand and walk you through how to do things.
I’ve also worked at smaller start-ups in project management, business development, and sales, and a lot of these previous roles were about getting the “plane off the ground.” FISPAN already has product market fit, so we’re off the ground now — we know what our value proposition is and who the end users are. We just have to make sure this “plane” keeps on getting higher and faster to get us to where we need to be. I wouldn't say this is easier or harder, but rather a different challenge altogether.
What continues to excite you about FISPAN?
It's the endless possibilities. I can actually see a number of goals we can reach, and there are many growth opportunities in the market. Although we found a niche fit for our current product and value proposition, there is a massive opportunity to build upon this offering, especially in my role. I truly believe FISPAN has the potential to become a world leader in what we do in development and integration of FinTech applications. When I talk about partnerships, we are talking about a very limited scope of who we partner with today. That world of partner possibilities and transforming the value proposition of FISPAN, well, there’s no limit on that. We are developing ERP connectors today, but in a year, or two or three years down the road, we will be doing much more.
On a personal level, one thing that has blown my mind so far are the internal learning opportunities. I'm not just talking about the management team, I'm talking about working with colleagues across all teams and ranks. There's a lot of things you can learn from directly working with these people, things that you don’t learn in school. That's what excites me on a daily basis.
What has been your proudest moment in your professional career?
At my very first start-up, I was promoted to the role of Product Manager. This was the first time in my career that I actually managed a team and was responsible for owning a product. I was proud because a lot of the research we created and did in my graduate program contributed to building this product. I could see that this wasn't just a science project I had at school. This actually turned into a real company and was a real product that I was managing, where I got to talk to partners and clients, and had a team help me build it. It was truly an “ah ha!” moment.
Why did you choose a career in FinTech?
It makes the most sense. If you look at my resume, there is a long and winding road that leverages my engineering background and business development experience. Our product here at FISPAN can be quite technical and we sell to very technical clients. From my VC investing experience, I understand how accounting works, how businesses operate, and what their financial policies look like. I've also worked at a bank, so I have a good grasp on who the end user is, who we're talking to, who we're partnering with, and who we’re selling to.
On a personal note, I’m interested in the opportunity to disrupt a very stagnant and sometimes boring industry. I will talk to partners who have been using legacy technology from 20 years ago because they don't know an alternative solution exists. Without investing more time and effort, they can multiply their output by working with FISPAN. FinTech is for sure here, but the industry is ripe for disruption.