Payment Expert’s ID Check: Payments Proffessionals offers insight from industry leaders and experts on how they got their start in the financial industry, from their early years in education, to how they have been able to climb the corporate ladder. 

This week, Nirav Patel, CEO of embedded finance firm Andaria, details the importance of learning to adapt in an ever-evolving financial landscape, and the key figure in his life that gave him the tools to achieve where he is today.

Nirav Patel, CEO of Andaria

Where did you go to university and what did you study? What impact did this have on your current journey?

I attended Queen Mary University of London, where I studied Economics. The curriculum in the first two years was heavily theory-based, providing a solid foundation in economic principles. 

However, it was in my third year that the coursework became significantly more practical, which aligned closely with my initial career in investment banking. This shift was particularly evident in the modules focused on futures and options, which not only enriched my understanding of financial instruments, but also proved invaluable in navigating the complex dynamics of the payments industry. 

This blend of theoretical and practical learning has been instrumental in shaping my approach to innovation and strategy in my current role.

Were you part of any sports clubs or societies at university and has this influenced your educational and professional development?

During university, I was actively involved in the football club, which played a significant role in shaping my understanding of team dynamics and management. Being a part of the club taught me how to lead diverse groups and manage various personalities effectively; skills that are directly applicable to my professional life. 

This experience not only enhanced my leadership capabilities but also deepened my appreciation for teamwork, both of which have been critical in my career progression within the payments industry.

Did you have any jobs outside of the industry before making your start in it and was this experience a motivation to get into the industry you aspired to be in? 

Before entering the payments industry, I worked in investment banking. My fascination with capital markets and their operations originally drew me to this sector. 

The experience provided me with an invaluable foundation, particularly in understanding the intricacies of payments and the importance of innovation. This not only fuelled my desire to transition into the payments industry but also equipped me with essential skills that have been fundamental in my current role.

What was the first job you had in the industry and are there any lessons from this you still draw on?

My first role in the industry was as an Operations Analyst. The job taught me the importance of organisation and effective planning, skills that I continue to rely on today. These abilities are crucial in managing complex projects and ensuring the smooth execution of strategic initiatives.

Who was your biggest role model outside of the payments industry who continues to inspire you in your current career?

My biggest role model is my father, who emigrated to the UK with very little and managed to build a successful, albeit humble, life for our family while also supporting relatives back in India. 

His resilience and unwavering commitment to progress, despite numerous challenges, inspire me daily. His example motivates me to persevere and strive for excellence in my career.

When was your first big break in the payments industry? Why was this such a significant moment for you?

My first significant breakthrough came with Andaria. Starting a company from scratch and seeing it grow into a successful enterprise has been immensely rewarding. This milestone is not just a personal achievement but a testament to our team’s hard work and dedication, marking a pivotal moment in my career.

Was there a moment you faced in the industry that really challenged you? How did you overcome this? 

One of the most challenging periods was operating our start-up remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation demanded a high degree of trust in my team, as we were all navigating unprecedented circumstances. 

By fostering strong communication and maintaining trust in each other’s capabilities, we were able to adapt and overcome these challenges together. This experience reinforced the value of resilience and teamwork in facing and surmounting obstacles.

Lastly, what is some advice you would give to an aspiring person looking to get a start in your respective industry?

Focus on education and continuous learning as the payments landscape is moving so fast with respect to innovation and technology. Also be prepared for challenges. The field often requires problem-solving and adapting to new technologies or unexpected results in your projects.

Networking is also a crucial aspect of success – ensure you continue to connect with professionals and colleagues in the industry. There is both mutual benefit and interdependence in the payments sphere.