At Interac, we celebrate diversity and believe bringing our authentic selves to work drives the best results and allows us to learn from one another. We are focused on creating an environment for diversity and inclusion, where unique ideas, perspectives and voices are not only welcomed but encouraged.
For Black History Month, we are featuring the stories of people within the Interac family who are part of the Black community. This is your opportunity to read their stories and learn more about the advice they have for Black professionals who are looking to enter the FinTech space.
What is your name and your career at Interac?
My name is Aziza Ibrahim and I am the Learning & Development Associate on the HR team at Interac.
What does a typical day at Interac look like for you?
Every day is different! A major part of my role at Interac is focused on aligning employee goals and performance with the organization. My days typically consist of designing and developing programs for deployment within the Learning & Development portfolio. I build scale plans, lead cross-functional working groups to centre our program objectives for enterprise-wide learning and manage employee onboarding activities on our learning management systems. I am also an original member of the D&I Core Team at Interac, where I support strategy and operations.
What is your favourite part of your job?
My favourite part of my job is collaborating with internal and external stakeholders. My work exposes me to so many other functional groups at Interac pushing me to learn and adapt quickly. FinTech is ever-evolving and super-fast-paced, so working and learning alongside so many brilliant people inspires me daily.
What comes to mind when you think about your journey at Interac?
Endless opportunities and freedom to grow. Meeting new people in the industry and expanding my mind and network. Leadership staff who have enabled me to learn and grow, personally and professionally. From my hiring manager who believed in me, brought me in, and gave me the opportunity; to my mentors and the leadership at Interac along the way who have encouraged me to explore my curiosity. I’ve had the opportunity to leave a lasting impact beyond just myself and contribute to our business in a meaningful and impactful way.
How has your journey been as a Black professional in Toronto and navigating the FinTech space?
As a Black Muslim woman, my journey navigating the FinTech space has been full of exploration, learning, and growth. I think it’s also important to note that not one thing has led me into FinTech (and this may be true of many of you wanting to break into this industry), but a culmination of different work and life experiences. With an open mind and willingness to put the work in, I have made many connections and collaborations in the space. This has allowed me to learn about the industry, what I like (and don’t like), opening me up to opportunities, mobility, and grow my confidence.
What advice would you give to young Black professionals looking to start a career in FinTech?
I’d encourage you to network and build a solid community and start early. Surround yourself with people that will support you in reaching your full potential, both in your personal and professional life. Be curious. It’s even more important once you’re in the room and at the table, to own your position and to remember that you (too) belong. Put your best foot forward and stay consistent. I’ve learned that effort gets recognized, but excellence gets rewarded, so that’s something I carry with me. I still have a long way to go and am constantly learning, but I owe a big part of my career and confidence to the people around me – my father (for his tenacity), my mother (the epitome of grace), and those who have believed in me enough to (directly or indirectly) support my growth along the way.
Small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic. Do you have a favourite Black-owned small business you’d encourage others to try?
Supporting local small businesses is important to me, especially as we navigate through this pandemic. As someone who enjoys keeping up with my self-care regularly, Sohlo is an innovative solution that has made it quick and easy to source local beauty & barber services, from all over the GTHA, in one central spot. If you’re looking for local beauty and barber services I’d encourage you to check them out!
What is an interesting fact about you?
Before the world of FinTech, I was pre-med in university and minored in Business Management.
Inspired by a season abroad in Istanbul and exploring their great bazaars, I was inspired to take a leap in e-commerce, founding Niyaah & Co. in 2016, an online marketplace for modest clothing. I based my brand around the idea of intentionality and authenticity – a reflection (and reminder) of my own values and life experiences. I serviced both merchants (B2B) and customers (DTC) across Canada, the US, and the UK. Aside from using payment platforms for my business transactions, including Interac e-Transfer, I had little knowledge of payments before joining Interac. This experience re-affirmed my love of business, and so began my pivot from pre-med/medicine to FinTech.
When I’m not working, you can find me planning my next trip, exploring local trails around the GTA with my sisters, photography, and practicing self-care.
What makes Interac a unique place to work?
What always stood out most to me was that Interac has a small community feel while playing a key role in the lives of consumers and businesses nationwide. Diversity of thinking styles is encouraged, which allows us to approach our work in dynamic ways internally and see the impact of that work reflected externally.