Never believe you know everything. No matter what else you do throughout the day, always be learning from everyone around you.
Over the last 13 years, Laura has been helping businesses solve major challenges using innovative technology. In the wake of the Jérôme Kerviel scandal, Laura pioneered the Contextual Monitoring approach to trader surveillance, which is now used industry-wide today.
Prior to founding Quantexa, Laura was on the founding team of BAE System’s Detica NetReveal where she specialized in the application of social network analysis to find fraud and other criminal activity. Laura went on to become the Director of banking fraud and risk solutions at SAS for EMEA/AP, where she was responsible for the designing, building, and go-to-market of SAS’s fraud and financial crime solutions.
As a Chief Product Officer at Quantexa, Laura uses Quantexa’s innovative technology to empower organizations to make better decisions from their data. Pioneering the contextual monitoring approach to detect money laundering activity within Markets business, Laura also works closely with clients to identify fraud and other financial crime risks across all industries. Laura leads Quantexa’s Customer Insight solutions which helps organizations to gain a better understanding of their customers and discover new business prospects.
Where did the idea for Quantexa come from?
We started Quantexa because we wanted to improve the way things were done – For many years, I and many of Quantexa’s other founders worked for large software companies. These slow-moving machines struggled to respond quickly enough to the needs of the customer, and to the advancements in technology. They were building the technologies they wanted to make, not the ones their customers needed. We wanted to put the customer first, and make something they could get real value from. We knew that we could innovate as our customers and the technology landscape demanded, and we could therefore always be at the forefront of cutting-edge solutions.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
For me, no day is ever ‘typical.’ I work with numerous customers across different sectors, all facing unique problems. One day I could be helping a bank uncover money-laundering or human trafficking rings, and the next I am working with an organization to find hidden revenue opportunities within their data. To do this productively and effectively, I always stay focused on the customer and the outcome I’m aiming to deliver. Everything I do should be driven by finding a solution to a customer’s problem. I also know how important it is to take the time to enable the others around me to focus on the same. We’ll never have meetings for meetings sake; its about offering the right support.
How do you bring ideas to life?
It is so important to understand the market, understand your product, and then be able to see where the two align or where there are gaps. Knowing what your customer cares about, so you can sell value, not just a product.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am so excited to see the increasing number of women in STEM education and jobs. However, the ratio is still incredibly unbalanced. It is a personal passion of mine to help bring more women in to the I.T. field, and for those of us who are already here, make sure that there is no glass ceiling. I think one really great step toward equality I’ve been seeing is Shared Parental Leave. It’s great to see men empowered to encourage equality in this way.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Constant problem-solving; When I see a problem, I always want to create a solution. This is so important when starting a company. You face so many challenges at every stage, so having the attitude that no problem is too big, and being in the habit of attacking every challenge head-on, helps to keep things moving forward.
I am also very efficient with time and how I prioritize. Every aspect of the business is important to me, but I have to be smart about where and how I spend my days, because as a mum, I know I have to set off by 5:30 to see my daughter. It motivates me to be efficient.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t let yourself be guided into a career just because it’s ‘stable’ or ‘easier for when you want to have a family’. Know what is possible – there is no better feeling than taking the risk of starting your own company and seeing it take off.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe that the capacity and desire to learn of a child far exceeds that of any CEO in the world.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Never believe you know everything – you will always have more to learn from those who work alongside you, for you and above you. Always be seeking to discover what else there is to learn.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Remaining people-centric, both internally and externally. Your team is your lifeblood, so you need to create an environment where they are supported. Mentor them, help them grow their skills, and encourage their passion about what they do and where they do it. Externally, staying customer focused is key. We are dedicated to solving real problems for our customers, not just delivering a product.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When starting Quantexa, we all had our expertise, and many contacts, in financial crime. When it came to branching out into the fields of customer insight and revenue generation, we just didn’t have the right network or reputation. But this is a space we really wanted to be in, because our technology offers a great solution to customer insight challenges. So to overcome this, we really just went back to what is at the core of everything we do – understanding the customer and their pain points, and building them something that would solve those problems.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
An app that makes it easy for businesses to connect with students for vocational placements and work experience. I remember how hard it was as a student to get work, because the first thing you always get asked is ‘what is your experience?’ Not having any can be a real challenge.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Without a doubt, hiring a sleep consultant for my 2 year old daughter. It has been incredible for both my professional and personal life.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Spotify. Music is a great motivator, and can also help mellow me in moments of high stress.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Gruffalo – and not just because I am forced to read it daily to my 2 year old (who adores it!) It actually teaches that the small guy can win with creativity and confidence.
What is your favorite quote?
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it” – Alan Kay
- Sell value, not just a product.
- Never believe you know everything. No matter what else you do throughout the day, always be learning from everyone around you.
- Enable your team. They are your lifeblood.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.