7 minute read

ONLY THE ADAPTIVE SURVIVE

by Martina King Chief Executive Officer Featurespace Pte Ltd

Leading a deep technology company in today’s modern, fast-paced, and ever-evolving business environment is both an exciting and challenging endeavor, however it’s still all about the people.

Our product-market fit was achieved after considerable trial and error. At the time there were very few machine learning products available in any sector, other than the academic environment the term wasn’t widely expressed. Finding the ideal market to offer a new and improved approach with results better than what had gone before takes time. Once we were introduced to the payment sector and with their encouragement we found all the relevant elements for industry disruption.

Our invention of Adaptive Behavioral Analytics achieves the greatest results on large, real-time /time series data where we are searching for anomalistic behaviors in vast normal or good behavior sets. We required an important problem to solve – a boardroom agenda item, with commercial relevance, a growing market and dissatisfaction with the incumbent technologies and most importantly to find a place where machine learning would be for the benefit of society; “machine learning for good”.

Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point talks about the importance of Mavens in the change process. “Mavens are information specialists. They are the kind of people who are endlessly curious and adept at gathering and retaining information on a wide variety of (sometimes obscure) topics”. We identified and met with the payment industry’s fraud prevention Mavens, they understood our technology’s potential, we spoke the same language and we experimented together. Their requests were identical; to build technology better than the existing vendors, invest to maintain the lead and continue to treat us, your customers, with honesty and trust. And make sure your technology works! Our course was set and eight years later we are widely recognized as the world’s best technology for solving payment fraud and financial crime and enjoy some of the highest possible customer satisfaction scores.

Committing to an industry by promising to build the most effective mission critical technology meant we needed to create a workforce motivated to bring their ingenuitive best, every day.

Creating the Right Environment for Ethical & Commercial Scientific Discovery

Being part of the early adoption and launch of products and services available on the internet, Martina learnt that a duty of care to society is beholden on technology companies and technologists. In the race to bring new features during the early days of the internet, the goal to launch outstripped any governance. Governance procedures were not in place to consider the impact such technologies could have on users or society. She strongly believes in the importance of ethical decision-making when bringing new technologies to society.

Working in the creative industries, leading and motivating exceptionally intelligent talent led Martina to understand that people are even more complex and fascinating than their inventions. Her favorite quote is by Frances H Arnold, the Nobel prize winning scientist. The fifth woman in history to be awarded for chemistry. “And I have already learned that science is easy compared to dealing with people. People are really complicated”. Exceptional talent prefers to choose; what, how and when they spend their time, they usually wish to work on solving important problems for society in a mutually respectful manner.

A great deal is written about mission and values because they are important and they work, when introduced and managed well. As young companies grow and scale, especially IP heavy companies with long-term customers and equally long-term investors, the development of managers and leaders with a shared vision of the future is essential. No-one is born a manager; the skills must be developed. Commercial experience can be replicated. Many scientists enjoy the innovation process involving deep concentration and novel approaches. Martina is equally delighted by the technical or managerial progress of her team. Concentrating on the various phases of company development and preparation for the future leads to team members’ personal advancement and an organization ready for the next stage.

Delighting the Customer

Martina’s leadership has also instilled an environment throughout the company with the fundamental focus on delighting the customers. All Featurespacers are empowered to go the extra mile to ensure customers can achieve what they have set out to do. Those early day Mavens who took risks on a new approach are now recognized as experts because we committed to never let them down.

The strong partnership approach that Featurespace has created with its customers has reaped incredible results for the company and customers, from winning industry-recognized awards to co-creating case studies to showcase the collaborative effort to outsmart the fraudsters and scammers. The best evidence of all being the loyalty the industry and customers have shown in return for the company’s efforts.

Leading with a Vision

The role of a software company leader today is to not only to steer the company in the right direction but also to be able to anticipate and adapt to the changes in industry and the world.

After 10 years Martina’s drive remains the same. Martina can often be seen talking to new teammates, asking about their interests, and sharing her passion for Featurespace. Her passion to use technology for the greater good, to always be open and transparent and to delight customers, flows throughout the business, its culture and into every department. When asked, Featurespacers will often describe their role, not as commercial, or technical, but as being ‘one of the good guys,’ playing their part in making the world a safer place to transact. The values of trust and honesty are as important to our customers as they are to our valued team members.

Managing The Downs

While not everything has been smooth sailing for Martina, she maintains a growth mindset and a belief that with her exceptional team she can overcome the various challenges they face. For all business leaders the past few years have been some of the most challenging ever; Covid19 pandemic, recession, software investment industry correction, remote working. Through all of these challenges Martina was laser-focused on one aim – to protect the Featurespacers and to ensure they were taken care of, wherever they were. their wellbeing and ,rom being set up for remote working to keeping a pulse on their mental health and well-being. And she did this collectively with support from the Senior Management Team – putting the managerial and leadership training through the years into practice.

Through all the changes, one thing has remained constant: Featurespace is making the world a safer place to transact through empowering the financial services industry with the best technology to combat fraud and financial crime, and Martina is at the forefront of it leading a group of people who are recognized for their care, academic rigor, and commitment to solving real-world financial crime problems to outsmart risk.

“Through all the changes, one thing has remained constant: Featurespace is making the world a safer place to transact through empowering the financial services industry with the best technology in the market to combat fraud and financial crime. Under Martina’s leadership is a team at Featurespace who are recognized for their care, academic rigor, and commitment to solving real world fraud and financial crime problems to outsmart criminals.”

About Featurespace

Featurespace is the world leader in enterprise-grade technology that guards against fraud, scams, and money laundering. With a mission to make the world a safer place to transact, Featurespace helps banks and financial institutions protect customers and reduce risk and business operating costs by providing industry-leading machine learning, financial crime management solutions.

Over 70 direct customers and 100,000 financial institutions have put their trust in Featurespace’s technology including HSBC, NatWest, TSYS, FIS Worldpay, Barclays PLC, Marqeta, eftpos, Danske Bank, Akbank, Edenred and Permanent TSB.

Maintaining the company’s leading position in the industry is sustained by staying ahead of industry trends, by continuously innovating and bringing novel technologies to the market such as Adaptive Behavioral Analytics and Automated Deep Behavioral Networks. By listening to, and working closely with the industry, the business is well structured to quickly adapt to the changing needs of customers. Visit www.featurespace.com

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