Dismantling myths about who can be a leader in FinTech

October 27, 2023 | Emilia Chiscop-Head, PhD, FinTech and Cyber Program Manager

Stephanie Mann, Chief Strategy Officer at Live Oak Bank, spoke with the students in the Duke FinTech Master of Engineering about her career

Stephanie Mann, CSO at Live Oak Bank

Stephanie Mann, Chief Strategy Officer at Live Oak Bank, recently visited Duke to meet the students in the Duke FinTech Master of Engineering program and talk with them about her career and work.

“Technology innovation can transform banks on a number of fronts over the next decade,” she said. She gave the example of how technology allows banks to offer a “banking experience completely customized to meet the needs of users” and maintaining a actual “personal connection that many customers want from their bank.” Stephanie talked about how technology enables integrations with other services by partnering with accounting, payroll, vertical-specific products, etc., resulting in a better experience for customers. “Technology will ultimately impact banking in EVERY way.  The rate of innovation in fintech has reset the bar and expectations in banking and will continue to propel the financial services industry forward,” added Mann.

Asked what some of the most important skills for success are, Ms. Mann responded that “soft skills” such as attitude and effort are among them. “Those manifest in your ability to work with others, to listen to others, to learn and improve, and to teach and invest in others. In my role in particular, the ability to be a critical thinker is essential. People who can assess risks and opportunities across the business and create frameworks to analyze, prioritize and execute without all the answers thrive in my part of the business.”

Ms. Mann is responsible for corporate strategy, development, and strategic investments, including Live Oak Ventures, and Live Oak Private Wealth. She has over 20 years of experience in advising companies on capital structure, growth strategy, M&A and capital raising. Stephanie is a former managing director of investment banking at Citi where she advised Fortune 500 technology companies outside of the New York and London offices. During her tenure, she worked on more than $125 billion of M&A transactions, including cross-border, leveraged buyout and joint ventures for public and private companies. She also has experience as a founder, employee, and advisor of a few technology start-ups. Stephanie Mann received her MBA with honors from The Wharton School and her BA from Stanford University. She is also an Adjunct Professor for the Department of Management at Rutgers Business School. Asked what it takes to be a successful leader, Ms. Mann answered: “There’s a myth that people should be generalists to reach leadership roles, but in fact it’s the opposite.  Our leaders in legal, finance, technology, lending, talent, etc., generally came up through those functions.  It doesn’t always happen that way for sure, but being good at something is always a good thing.”