Stephany Zoo
Chief Marketing Officer
by Jake Liban Pezzack

"I'm completely obsessed with proactivity. I try to engage with my problems in a pragmatic way. Put simply, I'm here to get things done."

A graduate of Princeton University, Stephany Zoo's experience encompasses a multitude of industries. Honing her abilities in finance, healthcare and SaaS sectors, Zoo has spent the last ten years refining a comprehensive B2B skill set.

"I worked with a variety of large businesses in the early phases of my career. It was incredibly stimulating, but I found myself yearning for something more humanistic. Eventually, I was able to balance the exhilaration of corporate life with the compassion of the other roles I eventually involved myself with."

Aside from corporate marketing, Stephany has also engaged with a variety of charitable organisations. From directing the new initiatives in the Women's Foundation of Nepal, to empowering young professionals across Africa, Stephany's commitment to philanthropy became a distinguishing characteristic in her career path.
"Being an effective marketer means understanding your target audience. Identifying with them is integral. In turn, they also need to identify with you. I've spent a long time trying to bridge that gap."

Scouted for her individualism and expertise, Stephany was recently appointed EXANTE's Chief Marketing Officer. She currently oversees all aspects of the company's marketing department, devising various strategies for growth and expansion across the globe.

How do you feel EXANTE champions and supports their female employees?
As a female executive, I appreciate that the shareholders treat me in the same vein as my male equivalents. That's incredibly important to me. By all demonstrable metrics, I'm regarded as an equal. It's a top-down approach, and a clear indication of how EXANTE treats its workforce as a whole.
Tell us more about your current role. What excites you most about working for EXANTE?
I get to work with really challenging, interesting problems. I spend a lot of time concerned with marketing strategies, mulling over EXANTE's branding and positioning. Knowing that my work has a tangible impact on the business line is really exciting.

I also get to work with brilliant people. Everybody's at the top of their game. They're true self-starters who always take the initiative. As a 'leader,' I don't feel like I'm driving them. If anything, I feel like they're driving me!
How do you think we can incentivise more women to pursue careers in the FinTech sector?
I understand why FinTech careers are a daunting prospect for a lot of women. On the whole, this is a sphere almost exclusively dominated by men. I'm very lucky to have had strong female role models throughout my career, and because of that, I was always afforded a clearly defined archetype. I think we need comparably resilient role models to be made visible within our industry. Ultimately, I think that will encourage more women to pursue careers in this sector.
What have been some of the most challenging aspects of your career? How did you surmount those obstacles?
In recent years, I've focused on B2B marketing for a wide range of industries. Operationally speaking, these sectors are united by certain similarities, but how you interact with different business lines can differ quite substantially. Consumer mentalities are disparate across the board. Learning to adapt to these various business models can prove challenging, but I feel like I've managed to navigate each to the best of my ability.

I've also worked in lots of different countries. I began my working life in the US before moving to China. From here, I held positions in Israel, Thailand and South Africa, before eventually settling in Kenya, which is where I'm currently based. I've had to consistently adjust to different cultures, norms and expectations. I think this sense of exposure is what makes me an effective marketer. I'm able to interact with clients from all walks of life, and offer my expertise in a wide variety of contexts and scenarios.
Who or what has been the principal guiding force in your work life?
I'm not sure if there's a definitive guiding force in my work life. I think these things are often layered. If I had to choose, I think empathy might be the most important aspect of being a marketer. You have to have a sense of understanding when it comes to the needs and wants of your clients. That's how you form lasting relationships and garner success. I think that the same considerations should also extend to peers and colleagues. I strive to extend that sense of empathy wherever I can.

I also think it's vital to remain purposeful. I always try to ask myself 'north star' questions. When I joined EXANTE, I made sure that I devised a diligent strategy. It's my job to ensure that this company lives up to its potential, and becomes a world-class brand. Having a decisive approach helps me remain focused in all of my interactions, and keeps me attentive to our goals.
Who are some of your heroes?
I think I have two. It's funny. Whenever I used to read 'my mum is my hero,' I'd think that kind of familial answer was lame and sentimental. But now I've eaten my words! When I really think about it, my personal hero is my late grandmother. This is a woman who lived through the Cultural Revolution and underwent a cesarean without any anaesthetic. I really admire her attitude: she worked hard and never made excuses. She was a magnanimous, bright spirit. She had such a tenacity for life, and channelled her compassion into the people and things that mattered.

Professionally speaking, I really admire Anne Wojcicki, founder and CEO of 23andMe. Embroiled in various business difficulties with the FDA, she was able to work through her issues in a productive, collaborative way. Whilst navigating a highly-publicised divorce dispute with Google co-founder Sergey Brin, she extended a willingness for compromise in her personal affairs, and I thought that was admirable, too. She knew when to negotiate, and she knew when to let go. Her attitude is something I feel we could all learn from.
What is something that people usually get wrong about you?
I look relatively young, and the cadence of my speech patterns can sometimes appear naive to those who don't know me. I love it when people underestimate my skills. I thrive under that kind of pressure.
What advice would you give to ambitious young women starting out in their careers?
Don't back down. I think there are lots of situations where women are gaslighted or made to feel unsure of themselves. It's so easy to give into that feeling. What really distinguishes the achievers is conviction. Retain that sense of confidence, and always stand your ground. As women, we're often told that our desires and aspirations aren't important. We're taught that sacrifice is a virtue, when in actuality, it isn't. Ask for the things you want. Demand them. That's how you ascend the corporate ladder and deliver results. It's the most authentic form of communication, and something we should all affirm.