With over 10,000 followers on LinkedIn, Leda Glyptis PhD is a familiar face on our feed thanks to her weekly article. Eliga Services sat down with the Chief Client Officer of 10x Banking to discuss her writing and her tribe.
Making FinTech history
The #ledawrites series is refreshingly candid. As a result, it has built a sizeable following over the past five years. When asked what inspired her to create the series and hashtag, Leda explains, ‘My readers started tagging my articles and I loved it so much that I started using it myself.’
There have been a couple of interesting spin-offs over the years, including #lessonsfromleda. She considers these hashtags a gift from her reader community.
Writing is as much an outlet as a source of comfort. The Chief Client Officer notes, ‘Particularly, when you are inside an institution struggling to get some things over the line, it can get very frustrating, very lonely. And sometimes distilling what you are going through and putting it on paper is very cathartic.’ She found that her early pieces spoke to a much wider community than she originally anticipated.
When Tanya Andreasyan, the MD and Editor-in-Chief of FinTech Futures proposed making the articles regular, Leda was incredulous. At the time, she said, ‘There’s no way that we will have an audience that will come back again and again and again for this stuff!’ With a laugh, Leda admits that she was very wrong. She is very pleased to say her friend, Tanya was very right. The rest, as they say, is history.
The pursuit of opportunity
Leda describes herself as an ‘immigrant’ on her LinkedIn profile. She is a ‘bonafide’ immigrant, who left her home, country, her family with two suitcases in pursuit of more. She is the ‘absolute dictionary definition of an economic migrant who is moving away for opportunities.’
The Chief Client Officer feels it is particularly important to claim the word given ‘the polarisation we live through.’
When people talk about immigrants, it can feel like a dirty word. She adds, ‘Even if you are not that vitriolic about it, immigration is always stated as a problem statement.’ Whilst immigration is often spoken about as an issue, it’s rare that people look at the immigrants that have contributed to the economy. She continues, ‘Scientifically, if you look at any piece of research, immigrants are net contributors to the economy, but it’s a very fraught political issue.’
In a 2018 report for the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), Oxford Economics found that ‘European migrants living in the UK contribute £2,300 more to public purse each year than the average adult, suggesting a net contribution of £78,000 to the exchequer over their lifespan in the UK. Additionally, OECD states, ‘In most countries, except in those with a large share of older migrants, migrants contribute more in taxes and social contributions than they receive in individual benefits.’
Leda recognises that her position gives her visibility and credibility. Having achieved certain things, she can celebrate her successes and acknowledge the origins as well. Whilst Leda didn’t arrive on a dinghy (she came on a plane and is a full taxpayer), she defines herself as an immigrant. She believes it’s important to not only share her story but also remind others that ‘This is what we can look like…’
The New York Times states that it is often difficult to maintain optimism because it requires that we accept our ‘positive and negative emotions at once and allow them to exist simultaneously.’ Leda has mastered the art of optimism, because of her uncanny ability to live between the two states. Many years ago, when Leda was working at a big custodian bank she helped start the ‘Optimists’, a group of like-minded colleagues. She describes herself as a ‘worst-case scenario person’ because she believes that if you prepare yourself for the worst; don’t get your hopes up; do the work as if everything is going to go against you, you’re better prepared.
By her own admission, Leda said she can be ‘quite grumpy.’ She remembers one of her friends saying to her, ‘You are the biggest fraud perpetrated. You are not an optimist at all!’
But she was…
For her, optimism is about believing that ‘better’ is possible but not for a moment believing that it is inevitable. It’s about rolling your sleeves up to do the work to face the challenges, no matter how complicated.
A mini tribe
Leda’s strong reader community is her ‘tribe.’
The Optimists group was a ‘mini tribe.’ The close-knit group started as therapy. She adds, ‘You know, when you work in a big organisation, a lot of what you do is banging your head against a brick wall.’
Whilst no one is trying to be obstructive, habits, procedures and processes slow down progress.
She remembers that the members of the group were always willing to help, even when there was nothing in it for them. At the time, the London office had a big atrium. Leda and the rest of the group were at the bottom of the atrium, drinking coffee. As she walked back to her desk, one of the bank’s very senior executives asked what was going on. He noted that Leda and her colleagues seemed happier than he had seen anyone in the office in a long time.
Hacking the system
Leda thought, ‘Ok, this is slightly subversive’ but decided to divulge. She explained that the group was meeting to hack the system and help each other. Rather than tell her to mind her own business and go back to her desk, he wholeheartedly supported the group. She recalls, ‘We ended up creating a group that was about 5,000 strong by the time I left and, as far as I know, it is still going.’
On the topic of tribes, Leda is proud to say that her tribe is the ‘Optimists’ but in a much wider context. The #ledawrites series allowed her to find like-minded people. Their shared traits include a humility of learning and a willingness to help. Her tribe believes that the world isn’t always better, but that better is possible. Whilst these traits are not unique, they are also not evenly distributed. She adds, ‘The Optimists were definitely my analogue way of finding my tribe, but I’ve found that there are a lot of us.’
Leda’s writing has allowed people to find each other to discuss some of the concepts and principles her articles highlight. The community is based on value principles and ‘actions of a particular kind.’
Technology capability is expanding
Leda started her journey with technology in pre-digital times. She recalls that when she worked on projects, they had super users and green cursors on screens. Admittedly, the advent of digital capabilities has been quite slow in terms of how banks appreciated their significance. However, it’s also ‘pretty rapid’ in the grand scheme of things. She adds, ‘Ten years is nothing when you think about it…For a very long time, the banking sector has been looking at technology almost like a tool, asking themselves, What do I do with this?’ Whilst this approach is understandable, it is also limiting. Innovation centres were trying to work out what to do with blockchain and other technologies. However, the reality is that there’s so much technical capability right now. Each in isolation does not necessarily make sense.
The Chief Client Officer thinks the most exciting trend is containerisation and all the technology that goes into the toolkit that allows scalability and security on the cloud. She explains, ‘If the advent of the most powerful computer in your pocket is the first thing that really transforms the way we work, the second most important thing is being able to scale it in a way that is robust and secure and all the tools that allow us to do that.’
It’s clear why Leda has earned her nickname ‘spikey’ after her favourite dinosaur, the Ankylosaurus. The former banker has perfected her professional armour over the years. Yet, she’s also warm and personable, connecting with her audience authentically. Her writing is both punchy and poignant, a rare mix that comes from her academic studies and lived experience as a self-described ‘Fintech geek’, ‘immigrant’, and ‘optimist.’ It’s no wonder that her following continues to grow every day as her reach and tribe expand.