Diana Paredes is the CEO and Co-Founder of Suade, a benchmark software platform that enables financial institutions to understand and deliver their regulatory requirements. Prior to founding Suade, Diana had a successful career in investment banking, covering all asset classes at Barclays and Merrill Lynch, across sales, trading & structuring. Whilst working in the industry, she saw an opportunity to innovate and launch her current FinTech startup. She believes that a data-driven approach to regulation is the key to preventing the next financial crisis. She has a number of different interests ranging from FinTech to performing arts and social enterprise. She has a BEng and MEng in Civil and Environmental engineering from Imperial College and is fluent in six languages.
What does entrepreneurship mean to you, and what underlying characteristics do you see in successful entrepreneurs?
Diana: Entrepreneurship, to me, means valuable innovation. I think it is essential to create a sustainable, profitable business to be a successful entrepreneur. I do not believe you need to have a certain kind of personality, I know shy entrepreneurs and very outspoken ones. However, what they all have in common is that they have found their own voice, they are authentic to themselves and to their vision. They live and breathe their company and their passion is contagious.
What are you most proud of in your professional career?
Diana: I am proud to be pretty relentless, I rarely give up on others and never give up on myself. I believe it is very important to always find energy inside you to grow, better yourself and not stagnate. In my professional career I have always challenged myself, trying new roles and opportunities within the banking industry, learning about new sectors, and finally deciding to become a tech entrepreneur & CEO of my company. When you stop learning you die.
If you could do something over in your life, what would it be?
- I really believe that mistakes are nothing more than an opportunity to learn and improve yourself.
- If you trust your instincts, you will always do the 'right' thing at that point in time, with the knowledge you have at hand at that moment. So at least then you will not blame yourself for 'not having tried' which ultimately is what regret is all about.
Tell us about an instance where you had to go against the flow to realize your goal.
Diana: In many ways, I do not believe in 'going against the flow' but really in creating your own flow. Entrepreneurs and innovators try to share with the world their vision so it is more about the process of creation, of doing something that has not been done before and of taking the 'road less traveled'. It can seem from the outside as fighting against a current and going against the flow, but to me that is my life and I would not change my daily hustling to get stuff done for anything in the world. I love it! So I guess the answer to this is, that every day, I create my own path!
Why do we need more women in tech and entrepreneurship, and what are doing about it?
Diana: At Suade, we are taking a very novel and refreshing approach to the way regulatory technology has been built in the past. This approach and its differences are driven by the input from the variety of brilliant brains I have in my company. When I hire people, I specifically look for diversity in thought. Whether for a woman or a man, thinking outside the box really stems from human beings' very different life experiences. Without diversity, a sector like tech or entrepreneurship which is all about innovation will not release the best products and ultimately be all it can be. In my company, if we were all replicas of each other, we would not be breaking new ground, and I think that is true for the industry as well. There are plenty of stats on that.
Tech in particular is in many ways a developing industry, no glass ceilings, no old boys club (which is a problem maybe in other sectors) and can definitely be meritocratic. We have an opportunity to get the stats right, to get diversity right, so let's!
What drives you? How do you measure success for yourself?
Diana: Happiness. I have the best job in the world and I know that. But it is important to strive to be in the right state of mind, if I not aware enough, present enough and forget that it is my responsibility to be happy, then I am letting myself down. Happiness to me also means clarity of thought, so that I manage the company in a way that is profitable and sustainable which is very important. If not I will lose the best job in the world! I am captain of my ship and I should make my decisions from a place of confidence, cool and abundance. Happiness is the wind that fills my sails and takes me to the shores of success.
If you were to give advice to your 22 year old self, what would it be?
Diana: You are going to be just fine, relax, do not waste ANY time worrying, love yourself just as you are, because the sooner you learn how to do that, the earlier you will start enjoying the marvellous journey that is your life.