Humans of Shyft: Q&A with Michelle Beyo
Since joining Shyft in June, Michelle Beyo has dived head-first into her position as Chief Client Officer, a departure from her background in telecoms, e-commerce, and loyalty programs — but one which nonetheless nurtures her passion for world of tech. And, as a member of the advocacy group Women in Payments, being a part of a diverse executive team is also particularly meaningful for her.
Q: What brought you to Shyft and how did you get here?
MB: I started my career in telecom and worked at Telus for about six years before moving into the loyalty space. I was working with Advantex and running online shopping platforms when the industry became a massive hit. From there, I moved onto CIBC, and finally, the Aeroplan Division, doing the same thing but more in the consumer space. In all my past roles, it’s very much been the same theme: something that is fast-paced, technology-driven, and fuelling change in the marketplace. I’d known Bruce for three years through my loyalty work at InComm, and he approached me asking if I would be interested in moving over to Shyft.
Q: What made Shyft so appealing? Even though it shares these similar themes, it’s still very different from what your previous work.
MB: I took a fintech course at Ivey Business School in November that was the first of its kind. I found it out of the blue, and it really aligned my passions toward blockchain. I ended up spending two days with all the SVPs of the banks — it’s a pretty thrilling space to be in. As payments are getting themselves into blockchain, it all just aligned from that aspect.
Q: Sounds like a pretty exciting opportunity then?
MB: Definitely. Especially because I think my eyes are already open to blockchain and I know Bruce Silcoff, CEO of Shyft quite well. We’d worked together in the past, so I’m on the same page in terms of how he sees the world. Also the fact that Shyft has a 50/50 female C-Suite team is very important to me.
Q: Was there any hesitation or doubt in your mind about jumping into something unknown and completely new? Unlike CIBC or Aeroplan, Shyft is a startup.
MB: What I love about this opportunity is that it’s about social change. It’s working to give power to individuals. My work has more purpose here. Knowing the team Shyft put together gave me assurance that I was going to be in the right space. Shyft’s advisors alone are really enough to get you excited about working here. Then there’s what we’re up to, what the possibilities are, and where we can take this thing. I’m pretty excited for that.
Q: How would you describe the company?
MB: I would call Shyft a fintech in the sense that it’s trying to enable existing technologies by acting as a bridge.
Q: What’s your vision in terms of what you hope Shyft can accomplish in say, a year to three years from now?
MB: It’s really up to our passion and creativity where can we take this as a team. In the next year I see us solidifying two or three of our verticals to prove out our capabilities through KYC/AML for identity and reputation. From there, we’ll extend out into other opportunities and really take it to the next level.
Q: What do you think is Shyft’s most important or immediate goal? I know there are a lot of different things Shyft is looking to revolutionize, but do you think there’s one objective that takes precedence?
MB: AML and KYC is definitely our leading opportunity for change, cost savings, and security.
For example, InComm is the largest prepaid provider for reloadable cards globally and they have to KYC and AML every single one of these transactions from Japan to Canada, and it’s a complex structure. It’s costly. There are new regulatory rules in every country almost every six months. The opportunity there is vast. We have people basically looking at us, saying, ‘hey, when can we do this?’ Other competitors only solve one aspect of that issue — either just KYC or AML. In any business today, when you add sophistication with security, you’ve won on both fronts.
Q: What are some of the areas that Shyft is looking at that you are personally most excited or passionate about?
I really enjoy our company’s vision on how we can start helping refugees and immigrants get reputational identity that could cross borders with them, wherever they go.
For example, if you don’t have a bank account today, you’re not part of the system, you can’t easily participate in the global economy or have access to value creation. So we’re trying to give the benefits of identity — not in a “big brother” sense (we don’t store people’s identity or any sensitive documents in the blockchain at all), but in that sense where identity connects to reputation and credibility — to anyone. Considering how much global movement of people is currently happening due to political instability. If we could actually help contribute to solving for some of that — I think that’s a pretty phenomenal concept to get up every day for.
Q: How far do you think we realistically are from being able to contribute to helping refugees and those who have difficulty getting identity papers?
MB: I think first we need to focus on proving ourselves in what we facilitate best, which will most likely be AML/KYC. But I think when you look down that three year path you mentioned, there’s a possibility we’d be able to start having some effect in that capacity.
Q: What makes you happy and excited about working with this team?
MB: I feel like Shyft has put together a dream team. I’m just looking around thinking, ‘wow, you know, not only are we almost 50/50 on the female front of this C-level or executive team, but everyone’s really passionate.’ I’m enjoying every minute of this new adventure, that’s for sure.
Q: While the larger Fintech community is still fairly male-dominated, what does it mean to be a part of a diverse executive team like this?
MB: It’s pretty meaningful to me. I have a nine-year-old daughter. I’ve gone through a lot to get to the position I’m in, in the sense of dealing with different situations and how you formulate your conversations to prove out that you’re the signing authority at the table. And I think throughout your life as a female executive, you always have to hope that they don’t look for the male to close the deal. This is what we need to change, and I’m quite passionate about helping women succeed.
Q: Where would we find you outside of work?
MB: I spend most of my time outside of work with my two beautiful kids and Husband biking, playing soccer, music in the park, or creating an adventure by exploring our city.
Shyft is building the world’s first modern, secure, multi-stakeholder Blockchain-based trust network that enables KYC/AML attested data transfers. Join our Telegram (https://t.me/shyftnetwork), follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/shyftnetwork), GitHub (https://github.com/ShyftNetwork) and other channels found on https://www.shyft.network/