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Women in Finance: Amelia Chen, Array

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Options trading, venture capital, legal software… Amelia Chen loves a good challenge. And when that challenge has the power to improve people’s lives? That’s where she’s happiest working. 

After spending more than a decade in roles across the finance and tech space, Amelia is now Head of Marketing at Array, a software company that fuels financial progress for many of the world’s leading fintechs, financial institutions and digital brands with a suite of credit, financial management and privacy tools. In an interview with Statement’s Lis Martin, she shares how much of her professional success has come from listening – to her customers, to her support network, and especially to herself.    

Lis: Tell me about your work at Array. What brought you to the organization and what are you working on these days? 

Amelia: A big part of my work at Array is, “How do we tell the story of our company and the value we bring to our customers in an engaging, succinct and compelling way?” I work closely with our product, sales and growth counterparts to ensure that we're getting all the information we need from the field, so that we can build from a customer-centric point of view and ensure that we're solving for the most challenging and important problems our customers are facing. 

Lis: You have broad industry experience, from venture capital to social impact. What brought you to the fintech sector? 

Amelia: I started out in wealth management at JPMorgan, and enjoyed learning about the industry because to really understand what we were selling, we needed to understand the intricacies and complexities of the economy. After a certain point, I wanted to go a little bit deeper, so I went into options trading which I found to be equally intriguing. I still dabble in it occasionally to this day.

During that time, the tech scene in Chicago was starting to take off. I was instantly attracted to how dynamic the community was, how passionate everybody seemed to be about solving challenging issues, and how resilient people were in taking on big meaty problems. And I wanted to be a part of that. 

I worked in employee benefits and in social impact, and then my last organization before Array was a legal tech software company. But I always missed finance, so when the opportunity popped up to join Array, it was a no-brainer for me.

Lis: Having spent so much of your career in various corners of the finance world, how have you seen overall representation and the role of women shift? 

Amelia:  It’s really changed from when I started about a decade ago. The narrative around representation is more intentional now. We're now talking about it at the executive level. There are real metrics around representation to which organizations are measured and held accountable. So I think we've made a ton of progress. There's still a lot of work to be done, of course, but I think we're generally headed in the right direction. 

Array is an awesome example of a company who's doing it right. We recently hired a Head of DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging), and we're really focused on baking it into our DNA,  our culture, and the way that we think. 

Lis: Have there been any strong female mentors throughout your journey who have helped you carve out your own path? 

Amelia: During my tenure at my previous organization, the Chief Marketing Officer's counsel proved to be invaluable for various projects and initiatives. About a year ago, I also started reaching out to CMOs to ask if I could have a few minutes of their time. What's the worst that happens, right? They ignore you, and that's fine. The folks who did reach back to me were so gracious with their time and their insight. And I continue to nurture those relationships and hope that I can reach out to them in the future when I’m feeling a little lost. I would encourage anybody to adopt a similar approach and see where it leads them.

Lis: Do you feel like being a woman has given you a unique perspective into the societal challenges that you're seeking to solve through your work? 

Amelia: The challenges I have encountered are, unfortunately, all too familiar among women. As women, we often face the daunting task of overcoming unconscious biases, and at times, we become our own biggest obstacle, as self-doubt can take hold of us. It's not uncommon to question our readiness for the next role or to become overwhelmed when someone says something that doesn't resonate with us. However, it's essential to recognize that our perception of reality doesn't always align with the truth.

I've leaned on my support network to talk me out of those moments. I work with an executive coach who has been a tremendous source of guidance and inspiration. She encourages me to focus on the facts and to devise an action plan to address the situation at hand. It's crucial to lean on each other during tough times like these, to seek the perspectives of those who may have faced similar challenges, and to draw strength from their experiences.

Lis: Agreed about having a coach – they’re like part business guru and part therapist at times. Circling back to your work at Array, tell me a bit about the social change that you’re hoping to create. 

Amelia: The products that we're building, at their very core, are intended to support consumers with their financial progress. There's a big financial health disparity between historically advantaged groups and historically marginalized and systematically excluded groups, so my hope is that through my work at Array, we can help our customers elevate financial health for those who really need it.  

Lis: What have you learned in your work that might be useful to other leaders in your space? 

Amelia: The first thing is progress over perfection. That saying has been around in the industry for so long, but especially in our industry, things move so quickly. If we wait for something to be perfect, we're losing out on a trove of meaningful learnings. Just put the messaging out there and market, test, iterate and go from there. 

The second thing that is really important for leaders in this space is that our industry is crowded. Think about the number of apps that you have on your phone already just to manage your finances; it's probably 20 or more. If we're thinking about building a new product, is it going to be additive or duplicative to a consumer's life? Is this product going to help or hurt their financial health? We need to be really, really thoughtful around the intention behind the product to ensure that we are working toward a more financially healthy future. 

The last thing is that it's imperative to consistently and continuously talk to the end user. It's an incredibly difficult process to commit to, because we're all super busy. But it is part of our job to listen, learn and understand what's going on from the people who are actually using our products. 

Lis: Any final words of advice for other women leaders? 

Amelia: Always be learning. We're never done with our work; there’s never a point where you feel like, “OK, now I know everything about marketing.” Make sure that you're committing to reading a book every quarter or going to a conference. Ultimately, it’s a way of supporting your individual growth and elevating yourself and your work.

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