Being at the forefront of innovation in the banking sector is an exciting place to be.
In this series we meet the team developing the technological solutions that will underpin tomorrow’s digital banking.
Name: Violet Yu
Role: Co-Founder and General Manager, People and Performance
Mission: Building better banking by finding the best-of-the-best
Path to Sandstone
Fresh out of school I wanted to keep my options open – I loved humanities and the sciences so I looked for a way to combine them all. I settled on a Bachelor of Economics, majoring in Accounting, Econometrics and Computer Science from Sydney University and used it as a springboard into the IBM New Graduates Program.
Prior to co-founding Sandstone Technology in 1996, I worked in a few different roles at IBM then jumped into some incredible contracts for international finance brands in Asia, Europe and Africa.
These roles and experiences taught me two key lessons:
Selling is not just about selling, it’s about becoming a trusted advisor to your customers – at IBM I was initially offered a job in the Sales team. I turned it down because I thought it wasn’t where the serious work happened. It wasn’t until later I discovered IBM Sales was where everyone wanted to be – where the best people were sent, where the most rigorous training took place. This is because sales is all about articulating the value we can bring to our customers and giving them the right advice at the right time. It’s more about consulting, than selling. You need to understand your customers’ problems better than they do and offer a solution before they even know they have a problem.
The banking industry is complex and unique – my roles with big international banking brands taught me that each country’s financial and banking systems is individually complex. To have a truly successful international FinTech, you can never offer cookie cutter solutions – you have to be responsive to each customer, each product, each country. Which is exactly what we still do today at Sandstone Technology.
I met Bob Hall while at IBM working on some international banking projects. We’d saw so many projects take an overly long time without delivering value to customers. We wanted to do things differently and felt we could by starting our own business.
We knew we could add more value to banking customers in terms of innovation, speed to market and responsiveness than the bigger companies could. Projects that took 2+ years in the big companies, we knew we could deliver in less than three months.
So, we took the plunge and created Sandstone Technology. Our aim then, as it is now, is to build better banking for our customers. And, that’s exactly what I still love doing every single day.
Life at Sandstone
Being a co-founder of a 22+ year old company means I’ve done pretty much every role in the organisation. I’ve designed and coded software, managed projects and set up the finances and HR systems, and everything in between.
I still have a varied role on a day-to-day basis – as Co-Founder I’m involved in strategy, operations and advisory committees; as General Manager of People and Performance I have the privilege of hiring the best-of-the-best, leading our wonderful culture and retaining our amazing talent across three continents.
When we started out, I was one of only a handful of women in the industry; let alone women in senior executive or founding positions. I’m still passionate about supporting women in our industry and it’s one of my favourite aspects of my roles here at Sandstone Technology.
Life outside Sandstone
I love exploring different cultures and how travelling opens up our minds to the diversity and richness of how other people live. I’ve also always wanted to be a writer. I’m an avid reader and you can find me most weekends taking our girls to activities, spending time with friends or relaxing on the couch with a good read.