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 a diverse group of people and are committed to creating an environment for diversity of thought and experience, 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 job?
My name is Babacar Sy and I am a Certification Technical Analyst, Mobile Payments.
What is some of the work you do on a day-to-day basis?
On a typical day, I develop, enhance, and maintain our products. I also review specification changes to improve our services for Canadians. I work closely with our development and business analyst teams and use agile methodology in all phases of the iterative software development lifecycle and advise on test strategies. I also support our financial institution partners with meeting Interac certifications for product-use.
What is your favourite part of your job?
My favourite part of my job is when I can intervene in all phases of a project. I like seeing a finished product and the customer satisfaction we achieved when something is consistent with what we had defined at the beginning. I also like to constantly learn, and my field is constantly evolving.
What inspires your work at Interac?
Oh boy! I have a lot to say on this topic, but I am going to keep it short. What inspires me the most is the people around me and I am lucky to have a manager who succeeds in adapting to the expectations and personalities of each of us. She allows us to progress, learn, try something new, and use our skills to positively impact the company. I am also surrounded by tremendous colleagues who are experienced and eager to jump in and help me in any situation.
I really find Mobile Payments a fascinating field and I believe this is the future of payments. What is particularly exciting is being part of a company that is building the technology of tomorrow.
Above all, I appreciate that I get to help address issues raised by customers and provide technical solutions to make our products better for Canadians. Ever since I was a kid, I have loved to problem solve. Getting to find solutions for our products at Interac is why I love my work – it is not a Romeo and Juliette love – but it is enough to make me love the field I’m in.
What is an interesting fact about you?
I am very attached to family value. I give much respect to elderly persons and I’m eager to help younger ones in their development. I meet with youth from my background every week and I teach them our language, heritage, and values so they don’t lose their culture. The fact that I have something to share or transmit to our younger generation makes me feel good and happy.
What comes to mind when you think about your journey at Interac?
Whenever I am transacting, or I see someone paying using the technology I helped build, I feel proud. I feel a sense of pride that I am involved in building something that is beneficial to all Canadians.
How has your journey been as a Black professional in Toronto and navigating Bay Street?
I was fascinated by how diverse Toronto was when I first moved here three and a half years ago, and I never felt that the colour of my skin was different than the people I was interacting with daily. As a Black professional in Toronto, I have also never experienced any unfortunate situation that many others have faced. Compared to the country I come from in Europe, where Black professionals are way underrated and neglected, I feel like Toronto is more open and multicultural and gives more opportunities to Black professionals. There still is a lot to improve to build a more inclusive and tolerant society, though.
What advice do you have for others who may be facing a similar situation?
I encourage my fellow Black professionals or any other person white, brown, red, blue (Avatar) whatever colour they are to be themselves, to be authentic, honest and to believe in their strengths. Do not let anyone distract you from achieving your goals. Be focused and do the best you can.
What advice would you give to young Black professionals looking to start a career in FinTech?
My advice to young Black professionals looking to start a career in Fintech would be to have the curiosity to learn more about the industry. To immerse themselves in the ecosystem and get as much information as possible through online resources. It is also essential to be comfortable with developing a network and participating in numerous roundtables, discussing experiences, be open to learning, and above all, knowing how to listen.
Beyond technical skills and the ability to work in project mode, certain interpersonal skills are also essential. They should demonstrate great interpersonal skills, a keen sense of observation and listening, but also intellectual agility. The challenge will be to capitalize on these qualities to be able to adapt to the start-up environment, mature and gain autonomy quickly.
Restaurants and small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic. Do you have a favourite Black-owned restaurant you’d encourage others to try?
For those who are aware of the Jollof rice rivalry between Nigerian and Ghanaian, I would recommend a Senegalese restaurant so that they will test “Thiebou Dieune” which is a Senegalese national dish. Unfortunately, there are none in Toronto so I will recommend this nice and good Nigerian place: The Suya Spot Scarborough
Looking to learn more about life at Interac? Click here.