Chief Strategy, Design & Innovation Officer,
Co-Founder & Executive Board Director, Xinja Bank
AGSM MBA (Executive) 2013
Finding Agility in Strategy
Van Le is the Chief Strategy, Design and Innovation Officer, Co-Founder and an Executive Board Director of Xinja Bank, a 'neobank' that promises better banking for all. Being on the edge of fintech demands extreme strategic agility. She credits her AGSM MBA with giving her an ability to speedily navigate VUCA conditions, make strategic decisions, and be able to relate to any function within the business.
Re-inventing Retail Banking
Xinja's goal is to reveal financial opportunities and choices for people who didn't know they had any.
"I saw building Xinja as an opportunity to challenge conventional thinking about the retail banking experience. Although I knew very little about the banking industry, I saw unlimited scope to change financial lives."
Van cites a lesson on disruptive innovation from her MBA: a business can innovate by creating higher value products for its highest paying customers or can take an experience that's currently only for the privileged few and find a way to make it available to all.
"Our aim is to give people a greater sense of hope by showing them a data driven pathway to a better financial future, and by taking away any fear and anxiety about their existing financial situation."
Achieving Impact Through Empathy
Van has always grappled with big human challenges. From arriving in Australia as a refugee, to lobbying for early childhood education, to growing up hearing her parents fight about money, she's on a mission to make the benefits of financial confidence and well-being accessible to as many people as possible.
"Xinja lets me combine my passions for strategy, technology and the human condition – to design new experiences to bring financial confidence and well-being to the masses."
She's spent her career working to improve customer experiences across multiple sectors. Her background in public policy, regulatory strategy, organisational transformation, and start-ups were the catalyst for taking on the AGSM MBA.
Van says the benefits of her MBA began well before she started studying:
"The first thing it did was reconnect me to what I wanted my life to be about, because the MBA application required me to articulate how I would contribute to the community through having an MBA."
Solving Problems Without Precedent
Founding a start-up means facing and solving problems in contexts no-one's ever seen before. Van credits her MBA with tools for dealing with uncertainty and creating a pathway to solve problems with no existing solution.
She points to the value of having a framework to examine problems: to see what's really important, what's missing, and how things relate to each other - to the point where you can do it instinctively. That, and learning to combine the disparate views of many to find the most actionable solution and apply it via customer experience design.
"One of the most challenging aspects of building a technology business is that you just never get on top of everything. Technology is always changing."
Making the Most of Experience
"It's really encouraging to see the AGSM is a well-trodden path for female leaders. There's a network to tap into, and of course, AGSM's reputation."
Knowing many prominent female business and community leaders have been through the AGSM MBA was a powerful endorsement of the school for Van.
Van now counts earning her MBA and joining the ranks of successful female AGSM alumni as a pivotal achievement – one that's enabled her to bring Xinja to life.
"You struggle in the early years of your career to find a mentor, to even strike up a conversation or even find out anything about people's career journeys. Then you do your MBA and that all becomes immediately available. Having people to learn from and support you is one of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of the MBA."