As a female entrepreneur, Adelia Castelino credits much of her early success to the role models who inspired and supported her vision to create a small start-up business, which has since flourished into a successful global company. In this edition of our podcast, Adelia explains that to sustain more women in the dynamic world of payments, mentorships are an increasingly important way that women can nurture their talents while supporting other women in their industry.
How long have you been at your company and what is your role there?
Adelia Castelino: I am a promoter of In-Solutions Global Limited. I have been now with the company since inception. So, my role in In-Solutions is to drive the goals, the vision, and make sure that you know we achieve our objectives. We have a vision and a mission, which is very clear that we are partners to our customers, we cherish and value our stakeholders, our employees, and the eco system as such, because we have to exist in an environment which not only is an Indian or a local market, but it's a global market, so we actually provide services across the globe. So that's my major role. The buck stops at my end.
What is a typical day like for you?
Adelia Castelino: Early to bed, early to rise makes a person healthy, wealthy, and wise. So, I get up in the morning, early morning, at five o'clock. I believe in fitness, so my day begins with the routine which is your yoga and fitness regime. I believe in natural resources, so I have a beautiful garden. I have access to the sun, and I go through that daily routine, and that's something that I cannot miss. A day begins with gratitude, then of course I have my responsibilities towards my family, and most importantly, the organization that I'm heading.
I look at the news and the upcoming breaking information, especially in the payment ecosystem. I look at the newer experiences, because my experience in this payment ecosystem has been that there is something new to learn every day. I go through the breaking news and exceptional thoughts that come out from the global markets and the Indian markets, as well as your regulators around payments. And then, of course, I have the daily exceptions, the daily routine activities, which I deal with.
The first part of the morning I spend in terms of understanding what are the customer pain areas, whether we have met with our targets, whether there is some intervention that I need to get involved. Nowadays, it's work from home. My day is well-planned. I have my meetings lined up, where there would be sessions with customers, with the senior management team of In-Solutions. Every day I look forward to some innovative thoughts in terms of how you look at solving the industry problems. And in the evenings, I spend some more time on news, understanding what are those happenings which impact our industry, and the overall global ecosystem in general.
Did you have a role model in shaping your career path?
Adelia Castelino: Yes. So, when we say, “role model”, the whole approach begins with your own family, your own model, the value system that is put into your personal DNA. The breakthrough that I got in my career was after completing my professional education as a CS, as a member of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India. I took up a job in a fairly large organization during the initial years.
My boss, Mr. Nalin Dalal was my role model when I began my career. The passion in which he used to drive the business, the passion in which he nurtured the talent, the opportunities that he gave me, certainly helped me learn in terms of the experience and expertise of setting up a business, and I was given those opportunities. So, when I say, “role model”, it has been some form of leadership that I have seen through my early days in the form of seniors in my work environment.
Later, when the thought of forming my own business struck me and I discussed it with the family, my husband, my family, supported me. And most importantly, I had Mr. Ajit Rangnekar as my mentor, who supported me during the early formation and early days of this organization. There was so much encouragement and mentorship that helped me understand the basic principles of setting up the business. How do you nurture that and how do you make sure you build a strong team of leadership, build a conversion program, and make sure that you don't compromise on your values? So, I would say, it's not a single person.
As years passed by, I had other role models, including globally. The way start-ups have now become large organizations, if you look at the story, it's amazing. This has been a fairly long journey, 2004 to 2020. It has been 16 long years, and while there has been a lot of internal enthusiasm in terms of setting up this business and experience helping me along on a daily basis, I value the mentors who have been part of this journey.
Now, we'll get into some questions that deal with women in the technology space, specifically. Do you notice a lack of women in technology? And if so, why do you think that is the case?
Adelia Castelino: If you look at the scenario a decade ago, when I got into this, my specialization began with the payments domain, and I've realized that technology is the backbone of every service. So, that's how I began this journey. But, if you look at women, yes, in those days maybe there were very few women who honestly wanted to get into this. And probably they themselves, women in general, believe in taking less risks. They believe more in a secure environment. That is how the DNA of women probably have stopped them from getting into businesses on their own. That is probably one of the reasons. But the trend today is changing. The education system is much more advanced in terms of inclusive growth. Women are participating aggressively in terms of not only building enterprises, but also in innovation and creativity. So, the trend is changing, while probably they, themselves, would have had those inhibitions of taking risks. It's not that they are not capable, but that is how their culture or upbringing may have been. This is the way I would like to look at it. But I don't see that continuing anymore. The trend is changing honestly for the current.
In your experience, does being a woman in your profession come with confidence challenges that you have to overcome, for instance, doubting your own ability, and how do you overcome it?
Adelia Castelino: Particularly in my experience, I did not face challenges just because I was a woman. We definitely had challenges in our business because the way the businesses are set up and viewed. Any customer would like to look at a start-up differently from a well-established organization, and that story was not different for me. I had to face challenges other than being a woman. We had to compete with established players, we had to prove ourselves, and our service capabilities. When you begin your story, you need to have a historical track. People have to trust you. So, basically, these are very critical services. We deal with very sensitive areas of concern of the end customers. And when you're dealing with banks, you're dealing with merchants, you're dealing with consumers, you're dealing with a regulator, and security, the challenges are many more than just setting up a business which has no impact on the complete ecosystem. So, for me, my experience honestly was not really about being a woman. My experience and my challenges were the business challenges, which probably are faced by every organization, every promoter, every entrepreneur when they go through a particular phase of their business and vision. And those are the challenges, honestly, I have also faced.
Many women in the tech industry have felt that their gender has affected the way that they are perceived or treated. Have you ever been in a situation like that, and how did you handle it?
Adelia Castelino: No, I haven't been in a situation like that. But, if I was in any situation of that nature, I would have fought it tooth and nail. I would have really proved that being a woman is definitely not going to be a criterion for anyone to take a business position, to assign or reward jobs, or to allow a woman to prove herself in the field. I would have taken it up very positively and I would have definitely put in that extra effort to make sure that when you are a woman, and you're representing women, you need to make sure that you provide the right leadership. So, this would have been my approach. This is something I think all of us should believe in ourselves.
What do you see, or hope to see, as the future for women in technology roles, or in the payments industry specifically?
Adelia Castelino: The payment domain and technology are definitely the backbone of every domain. Every domain is now getting into the digital space. The pandemic has proved it, and we find large organizations, to start-ups, to medium-sized organizations, know that without technology, without payments, they cannot get into any kind of a digital business, be it insurance, healthcare, farming, you name the industry. You need these two services as very integral parts of every business.
So, in my opinion, I would advise every woman to explore these opportunities based on their talent, based on their vision, based on their capabilities and creativity that they have. And they should look at carving a niche for themselves because this particular space, it's a never-ending space. It's always going to grow, it's going to be the backbone of every ecosystem, it's going to be the backbone of every industry, and it's going to be the backbone of every country. I would like to see women, smart and intelligent, to understand, and pick this up. I'm sure over a period of time, we would find more and more youngsters, young women, getting into this space.
We, as women, should support women, and if there are young women who would like to get into this space, we would be more than happy to be part of the support system. If the PCI Council can do something about setting up some kind of a mentorship program, or support system, we would be more than happy to participate. We would like to nurture talent because I think, ultimately, if we are serious about giving back something to the industry, and we are looking at young talent getting nurtured, I think we need to do something. Our interest is only to make sure that we get the satisfaction that we are nurturing a couple of youngsters getting into this space and supporting them. And then maybe looking at how do we help them build, in our own way, help them build their enterprise. Maybe in a very small way. And if we can do it, Alicia, we would be more than happy to do that.
Well, it has been such a pleasure speaking with you today. And thank you so much for joining our podcast.
Adelia Castelino: Thank you so much for your time. I wish you all the best and I think this is a very good initiative, and totally appreciated.