Tech talk: Meet the womxn powering payments at Marqeta

Ever wondered how the cards in your wallet work behind the scenes? Curious how product and engineering collaborate to create the innovative platforms powering payments for companies like Instacart, Doordash, Uber Eats, and Square?

On December 10th at 5:30 p.m. PT, Marqeta will host an evening of tech talks where you’ll be able to hear from a few of our many womxn engineers and product managers as they discuss their role in steering product innovation and developing many of the core platforms here at the company. We will leave time at the end for Q&A, and we are looking forward to an open discussion around topics such as career growth for womxn in tech, diversity, and inclusion.

What will the talks focus on?

The three tech talks will hone in on how payment fintechs like Marqeta build platforms to power consumer-facing companies, collaborate across product and engineering to create a card fulfillment platform, and build robust security infrastructure. We will also have dedicated time for Q&A to address any questions you may have.

Who will be on the Q&A panel at the event?

Akhila Singaraju — senior product manager

Akhila landed in fintech by accident after moving overseas in 2013 to work at a social impact tech startup to test drive a product for community-based health workers in rural India. Instead, the company found a product/market fit in lending software to help banks provide microloans to the unbanked populations in emerging markets. It was then that Akhila also found a “fit” for her career. Since then Akhila has held various product roles in fintech startups spanning digital lending, neo-banks, and payments. Most recently, she spent living two years in Singapore, building payment infrastructure to collect international tuition payments at the Boston-based startup Flywire. After moving back to the Bay Area in late 2019, she realized that building a payments career in North America requires a deep understanding of credit cards, leading her to join Marqeta in May 2020 as a senior product manager on the credit team.

What would be the one piece of advice you have for folks trying to get their foot in the door in tech, and particularly in fintech?

Read blogs, read newsletters, read the investment theses put out by venture capital firms, and finally follow some fintech operators on Twitter. All of this will initially help educate you and make it easier to interpret patterns. As you form your own opinions on the industry, you should, of course, network. Ask for coffee chats — ask about people about the products they built and the challenges they faced — do the pre-work needed when people are giving you their time.

Kalpi Desai — senior product manager

Kalpi started her career in the tech space as a consultant at Capgemini. After attending business school at Wharton, she decided to round out her skillset and took a short detour into a pure finance role at Goldman Sachs before recognizing that a combination of finance and technology was her true passion. She joined Marqeta in April 2020 and onboarded remotely as a senior product manager for card fulfillment.

What excites you the most about working in fintech?

The financial sector represents around $26 trillion and the current fintech market is worth around $190 billion — this implies a huge market that still has significant opportunities for growth over the next several years. It is complex with the number of players it contains, the infrastructure required to support it, and the regulatory requirements imposed, which makes it an intellectually challenging and exciting field to work in. There will always be a need for fintech, and there is a huge demand for ways to make it faster, easier, and simpler.

Nayely Martinez — senior software engineer

As a low-income, first-generation student, Nayely was often the only woman, let alone Latina, in her college CS courses. After graduation, Nayely attended the Recurse Center, a three-month-long programming retreat in NYC, where she finally began finding a sense of belonging by meeting people from equally diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. After the Recurse Center, she landed her first job as a full-time software engineer at Rent the Runway, joining a six-person, all-female engineering team. After two years, a medical scare in the family made Nayely determined to move back home to Los Angeles, which led to her first (remote) role at a fintech, helping develop a credit and fraud risk underwriting engine at Petal, a credit card startup based in New York City. Curious to dive even deeper into the fintech world, she joined Marqeta in April 2020 as a senior software engineer on the credit team.

What excites you the most about working in fintech?

The amount of financial literacy you will learn on the job in any role at a fintech is absolutely mind-blowing. As an engineer, you will continue to hone your technical and engineering skills, but as an added bonus, you also gain a deep, robust understanding of how the finance world works — anything from payments to credit card underwriting to cryptocurrency to fraud risk detection. It’s the best of both worlds and leaves you whirling at the end of the day and energized by the vast amount of financial information you are absorbing, as well as the resources and tools you are mastering on the job.

Sue Park — software engineer

Sue did not take a linear route to become a software engineer. During her undergraduate studies at Stanford, she spent close to five years, two of which were full time, dedicated to cardiovascular stem cell research. She graduated with a degree in biology. Soon after, Sue decided to switch gears to explore the dental field and began working at a dental tech startup in Palo Alto where she became interested in software development. To grow this skill set, she enrolled in App Academy, a coding boot camp in San Francisco, in late 2018. Sue then joined Marqeta in March 2019 as a front end engineer. Following the departure of the card fulfillment team’s tech lead, Sue migrated into the card fulfillment team full-time as a back-end engineer to help fill the vacuum. Despite not taking a traditional path, Sue has established herself as the technical owner on a number of key projects and is known for her card fulfillment expertise at the company. Much of this would not have been possible without the immense support from the engineering and product leaders at Marqeta and their willingness to trust her with opportunities right off the bat.

What is the best piece of advice a mentor has given you?

Imposter syndrome is real. But don’t let it stop you. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and don’t get too bogged down by your own doubts.

Temenuzhka Thede — senior security engineer

Temenuzhka was born and raised in Bulgaria. She moved to the United States at the age of 17, where she finished high school, then moved to Milwaukee to earn her BS in computer engineering from UWM. Temenuzhka started her engineering career in the industrial automation field, working as a firmware test engineer at Rockwell Automation. She became intrigued with the Stuxnet story, where programmable logic controllers were infected with a malicious worm to cause damage to a plant program. This story inspired Temenuzhka’s interest in product security. Her desire to enter the security field prompted her to apply to graduate school at Depaul University, Chicago where she eventually earned a MS in cybersecurity. Temenuzhka then continued her career in the medical device space, where she worked as a software and security engineer at GE Healthcare, implementing and supporting new generation bedside monitoring systems and ultrasound devices. In May of 2019, Temenuzhka joined the Marqeta team, ready to take on new security challenges in a new industry space — fintech. Since then, Temenuzhka has helped integrate security activities in the SDLC, and become a subject matter expert on authentication and authorization services developed and used at Marqeta.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to enter the product security field?

Work on establishing an engineering foundation first, then add on security domain knowledge on top of it (self-taught, or by taking classes, certifications, etc.). Having a good engineering background will not only help you architect robust security solutions but will also help you build empathy with product and engineering teams.

Curious to learn more? Join us on December 10th @ 5:30pm PST as our womxn engineers and product managers across Marqeta share their career experiences and journeys in the fintech space. To learn more and RSVP for the event, visit our Eventbrite page.