Hi, Could you introduce yourself?
My name is Lisa Guis. I've been working in compliance for about 7 years, focusing on anti-money laundering (AML), economic sanctions, and legal and regulatory compliance. I've worked for multinational banks doing Latin America compliance operations and due diligence investigations, as well as financial technology startups (I much prefer the latter!). I used to live in NYC, but have been in the Bay Area for about 2.5 years. I'm at Guild Credit now; prior to that I worked on the compliance team at Brex and before that I was the compliance manager at a company working on trade finance in East Africa. If you would ever like to hear some white-knuckle compliance stories about high-risk jurisdictions, drop me a line.
What are you working on?
I'm the Compliance Director at Guild Credit, a fintech focused on co-branded credit card program management. That basically means I try to protect Guild from people abusing our products and services for illicit purposes (like money laundering or terrorist financing) and make sure we are following all the rules set out for us by laws, and regulations. I communicate a lot with our issuing bank to make sure we help them get what they need to continue to support our program. As we grow I'll also build out the operational side of compliance work, such as customer onboarding screening and due diligence investigations (I love due diligence investigations!).
What is the mission of Guild Credit?
Guild is building a new way for brands to issue unique credit cards for their most valuable customers. Your relationship with your credit card program manager should make you feel included and inspire trust; Guild is building the program to excite users by providing great rewards, excellent customer service, and increased revenue for the brands we partner with. We are currently engaging with some NBA and English Premier League teams to develop programs, and will expand to other areas soon!
A lot of companies talk about diversity and inclusion as priorities, but don't translate that into action
What are the challenges and successes you’ve faced at Guild Credit?
One thing that is both challenging and really rewarding is working to help foster a culture of inclusivity. A lot of companies talk about diversity and inclusion as priorities, but don't translate that into action or let it influence language and culture. I was very upfront with our co-founders before I joined about the fact that I wanted to be in an environment where I could call out issues when I saw them, and have my concerns listened to and addressed. It can be intimidating when you're outnumbered by men, and it's definitely a skill I'm still working on, but the environment has been really receptive and supportive. When you and your team can get to that place of trust and understanding, it feels so right. My greatest hope is that we can succeed at creating a diverse and inclusive culture.
What are your goals?
Someone once told me no one is ever going to be floored by compliance work; I'd like to prove that wrong. I once made an anti-money laundering training that I know for a fact made some people lol, so maybe I'm on the right track!
Do you have a mentor?
I've had several women I trust over the years who I considered mentors; specifically my first manager at Morgan Stanley stands out. She would always say "never let them see you cut the cake." I also have a group of really talented women I've worked with at different companies who I keep in touch with and bounce ideas off of; I would consider them my peer-mentors!
Do you mentor anyone?
Not in any official capacity, but I'm incredibly excited to bring on more people at Guild and try to help them learn and grow.
What could the tech industry do to better foster female talent?
Listen to women when they speak. Hire them for senior positions. Accept that it is harder for non-cis white males in tech, and that to solve a hard problem you have to do work. Then do the work.
What advice would you give to people getting into your field?
Lean into the startup lack of structure and use it as an opportunity to develop yourself. Everyone is learning, and everyone will make mistakes. Remember that your relationship with your place of work is a two-way street. It's not just about the value you add for your company; it's about what you can learn and how you can grow as a professional in the environment your company provides. Choose fun.
What’s the best and worst advice you have received?
Best: Don't take criticism from someone you wouldn't take advice from.
Worst: Manage to yes.
Who do you follow? What blogs do you read?
I'm a member of ACAMS, which is an anti-money laundering association, and they produce a lot of material that helps keep me up to date. I also attend periodic conferences and exchanges with people in similar roles and industries. I also like InSight Crime, which is a journalism site specializing in Latin America organized crime investigations, which isn't as relevant for me professionally as it used to be, but I still like to stay up to date.
What’s the best way to keep up to date with what you’re doing?
I keep my LinkedIn pretty up to date. Also, keep an eye out for Guild Credit! We are on track to grow really fast, and I can't wait to see what's next.