NZTech Q&A: Sonya Williams

Chantal Thomas
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FinTech, NZTech News

Sonya Williams is driven to solve big problems using technology and wants to help more people do the same! She has recently been appointed as NZTech board intern and shares her startup story.

What set you on the path to becoming an entrepreneur?
The desire to make investing more accessible. I’ve spent my career in tech and have been lucky enough to worth with great companies like Springload, Xero, Collect and Kiwibank. In 2016, I co-founded the FinTech startup, Sharesies, an investing platform that makes investing accessible to everyone. As a new Director, joining the NZTech board is a great way to gain governance experience and supporting the growth of the Kiwi tech sector. Last week, when I attended the first board meeting, I was welcomed by a passionate and smart group of people. It was great learning more about NZTech’s strategy and future plans.

How can we empower and advance women in technology?
Because people are naturally drawn to what they enjoy doing, we need to highlight the diversity of roles available and skills needed. People like Alexia Hilbertidou of GirlBossNZ are doing great work in this space. Businesses and organisations also play a massive role, too. We all know diversity is so important to make great things happen, but the challenge is putting it into action. It’s not just about seeking different perspectives, but also creating an environment that values those differences.

What is your key advice to those who want to start their own business?
If there is an idea that takes your interest but you are unsure whether to pursue it, then find a way to ‘de-risk’ it. For Sharesies, this meant doing months of customer validation, testing early product market fit, before taking the big leap. Having a strong, diverse team of seven founders also meant we had what we needed to get the business off the ground. Balance is also important, when people are ‘all in’ on one thing, they can lose perspective and start operating from a bad place. I make sure I hang out with people I like and do things I enjoy as often as possible.

What do you enjoy most about your career?
The chance to work on something I’m really passionate about. It’s also pretty great to be able to create the kind of company I’ve always wanted to work in. I once heard a saying that “if someone didn’t enjoy cooking, you can taste it in the food”. It feels the same with creating a business, if you don’t have fun doing it, then how can you expect people to like it?

Favourite productivity tip?
At the moment, I’m trying to reply to emails as soon as I read them. If I delay a response, it doesn’t mean it gets any better, I just end up feeling guilty for not replying earlier.

Sonya Williams is a co-founder and Chief Product and Marketing Officer of FinTech startup, Sharesies. Co-founder Brooke Anderson and Sonya recently chatted with Re: watch it here.

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