In the occasion of the launch of the Master in Fintech and Business Analytics we caught up with Cléo Bottin, originally from Belgium but currently living in the Netherlands, where she works as an Associate Functional Consultant in the FinTech HighRadius. HighRadius provides integrated receivables and treasury management through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
Cléo is a an EADA Master Alumni and holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Management as well as a master’s in Auditing and Financial Analysis. Over the last 8 years, she has lived in 6 different countries and is convinced that her positive attitude and cultural awareness will help her reach her goals.
Tell us a bit about the company where you work now, HighRadius.
HighRadius is a Software as a Service (SaaS) startup headquartered in Houston, Texas. It is the leading company in AI-powered Order-to-Cash and Treasury Management software. In early 2020, it achieved Unicorn status with 125 million USD$ in investments. HighRadius currently has more than 400 clients, including over 200 of the Forbes Global 2000 such as Walmart, Nike and Sony.
Can you share a bit about your day-to-day responsibilities?
The value that HighRadius brings to the market is to help companies speed up their order-to-cash (OTC) process. It starts with a customer placing an order and ends with the company cashing in the money. Different HighRadius modules work together to reach this goal.
As part of the credit team, I focus on the beginning of the OTC process by allocating each customer a credit limit and accelerating their onboarding. Assigning the optimal credit lines means minimising clients’ exposure while maximising their revenues. In simple terms, you do not want to put your client at risk by advising them to lend money to high-risk profiles (risk of default), but you want their customers to have large enough credit lines to become big-spenders. In this trade-off, AI and machine learning provide a competitive edge.
What drew you to the field of FinTech?
I sought to evolve in a young and quick-paced sector, where I would have rapid career progression and work with the latest technologies. In my eyes, the FinTech industry embodies the future. We have all experienced FinTech startups impacting our lives, just think about the last time you used PayPal or RobinHood... This is just the tip of the iceberg, there is a whole B2B ecosystem being disrupted: mobile payments, money transfers, loans, fundraising and asset management. People can now not only access and manage information that was previously unavailable, they can do so whilst waiting in line somewhere.
My objective was to be a part of this new generation of businesses. In my view, companies and business owners will never stop seeking new ways of improving their financial operations, processes, and lives. Partly because it is beneficial for them in terms of profits, but mainly due to the fact that since FinTech companies drive completely new business models, they also serve an unanswered need, an underserved segment, or provide faster and/or better service.
How is your current position different from the more traditional world of consultancy in your previous position at Deloitte?
At Deloitte, I was part of the Global Location Strategy team, which gives strategic advice on where a business should – or should not – be located.
In eyesight, I see 3 main differences between the consulting and Tech startup world:
1. Skills development: After some time in a Big Four firm, you have acquired the generic analyst toolkit: Excel proficiency, the ability to create slides at breakneck speed, a general knowledge about multiple industries, etc. Whereas, in a Tech startup, you specialise much faster in one area of expertise – after a two-month programming training at HighRadius, I have been deep diving into the specificities of the HighRadius software.
2. Client relationships: While Tech projects offer long-term working relationships often lasting years, traditional consulting is often more about delivering a project and moving on. Additionally, Tech consultants participate in all stages of project development – including implementation – which is rarely true for a strategic consultant.
3. Work-life balance: Tech projects are more driven by internal deadlines as opposed to intense client deadlines. As a result, it allows for more flexibility and more control over your time. The startup vibe also encourages employees to make time for their interests and activities outside of work – it is simply part of the culture.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
When I started working at HighRadius, I had no specific IT or computer science education, nor did I know half of what I know today. Without any doubt, the most challenging part of the job is the constant learning it requires.
Very often you are viewed as a subject matter expert by the client and you will be given tasks that require you to step out of your comfort zone. That is when the EADA philosophy “learning by doing” really kicks in!
My main takeaway from EADA is the methodology. Since EADA doesn’t do lectures but case studies, I have learned how to deconstruct, analyse and find the solutions to (almost) any business challenge. This not only helps me in my current role, I also apply this approach to complex situations in my personal life. Additionally, since I work and collaborate with people from all over the world, the cultural-awareness I gained during my year at EADA is priceless. I think it is one of my biggest assets.
How important are soft skills in your position?
The role of a Tech consultant is to be the bridge between developers and clients, although both parties do not necessarily share the same culture, language or way of working. As a result, clear verbal communication, active listening skills and the ability to work across cultures are key.
Both at Deloitte and HighRadius, I had a client-facing role very soon after starting. My time learning soft skills in the Collbató Residential Training Centre helped me gain the required interpersonal skills and confidence to give a presentation –or a Zoom these days– in front of senior decision makers.