The Financial Technology Report is pleased to announce The Top 25 Financial Technology COOs of 2022. The job of Chief Operating Officer is increasingly in demand as new FinTechs continue to be created and already established FinTechs face the turbulent global economy that has been beset by pandemic, war, and inflation, among other things. The COOs on this list have guided their companies' operations through these challenges, providing stability and driving growth while enabling employees to provide customers with more and better offerings.
A few notable awardees on this year’s list include Paul Davilman of NICE Actimize, who works hand in hand with the company’s sales and product management teams, leveraging the latest industry data to improve sales opportunities and increase performance; Carey Beck of Freedom Financial Network, who has used her first-hand expertise in lending and financial planning to transform her organization’s approach to modern funding and finance; and Tomer Barel of Melio, who has launched a redefined workplace focused on heightened growth and profitability across the company.
The COOs who made this list represent a wide range of FinTech specialties from B2B payments to digital banking, cryptocurrencies, lending, and beyond. What they have in common is their ability to leverage their expertise, combined with their analytical and leadership skills, to manage their companies’ various business processes to make them as effective as possible. Please join us in celebrating The Top 25 Financial Technology COOs of 2022.
1. Neil Blagden
Seasoned operational and digital leader Neil Blagden is Chief Operating Officer at London financial services company Finastra and leads the company’s lending and enterprise business Cornerstone as Managing Director and Executive Vice President. Among his many tasks with Finastra are managing its operational strategy with regard to global services, IT, and automation.
Blagden’s remarkable career has carried him to the head of Vodafone’s digital, consumer and enterprise care, working to improve telecommunications outcomes for 24 million households across the U.K. He holds a bachelor’s degree in geography and economics from Loughborough University.
2. Paul Davilman
Company: NICE Actimize
For more than a decade, Paul Davilman has led the product marketing team at NICE Actimize as its Director and Global Head of Sales and Business Operations. Working hand in hand with the company’s sales and product management teams, he leverages the latest industry data to drive improved sales opportunities and increase performance across the board.
Before joining NICE Actimize, Davilman worked as the head of global product marketing in risk solutions for Norkom Technologies, and he has also held key management positions with RSA, GE Consumer Finance, and Citigroup. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland.
3. Carey Beck
Company: Freedom Financial Network
Carey Beck’s remarkable 34-year tenure at Freedom Financial Network as Principal, Managing Director, and Chief Operating Officer has contributed to a longstanding reputation of organizational excellence for the digital financial services company. In addition to her far-reaching duties related to management and organizational strategy, her first-hand expertise in lending and financial planning has transformed her employer’s approach to modern funding and finance.
Beck holds a bachelor’s degree in investments and securities from the University of Texas at Austin as well as an MBA in business, management, marketing, and related support services from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.
4. Yanir Ben-Nun
Yanir Ben-Nun brings two decades of experience in information technologies and business operations to his current position as Director of IT and Business Operations at European SaaS cloud banking company Mambu. Having worked with a constellation of international tech-driven teams across industries, he offers special mastery in business process management, digital transformation, and cloud technology.
Prior to his time with Mambu, Ben-Nun distinguished himself as Sapcorda’s global IT manager, worked as IT manager at MYKITA in Berlin, and was Informat Computers’ manager of professional services, presales, and products. Ben-Nun holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from the Open University of Israel.
5. Trey Williams
The operational strategy and overall performance of beverage company Fintech are managed by longtime hospitality and operations industry veteran Trey Williams, the company’s Chief Operating Officer since 2019. Williams has helped drive Fintech’s period of sustained growth, drawing on his previous experience with technology working at firms including Siebel Systems and Accenture.
In addition to his duties with Fintech, he is enthusiastic about supporting the wider community, having founded the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northern Georgia and serving on its board as well as that of the Southlake Texas Youth Sports Organization. Williams earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from Georgia State University.
6. Michael Lewis
Financial services provider Bakkt has brought to life a wide range of offerings related to digital assets and cryptocurrency investments, and these outstanding possibilities are realized with the help of its Executive Vice President of Technology and Operations, Michael Lewis.
Lewis, coming from successful tenures in comparable positions at Citi, AIG, and JPMorgan Chase, has brought to life new breakthroughs in consumer finance. He also has contributed his significant industry leadership to the nonprofit global banking architecture organization called the Banking Industry Architecture Network. Lewis earned a bachelor’s degree from The City University of New York.
7. Tomer Barel
This year saw the appointment of payment technology visionary Tomer Barel to the position of Chief Operating Officer at B2B payments platform Melio. A member of Melio’s advisory board since 2018, he has launched a redefined workplace focused on heightened growth and profitability across the company.
The veteran of the digital finance world counts among his experience a successful nine-year stint at PayPal, where as head of enterprise services and risk he managed global customer service and compliance. Barel holds an MBA from INSEAD and a master’s in economics and bachelor’s degrees in economics and law from Tel Aviv University.
8. Jay Chang
With decades of excellence in sales and management, Jay Chang leads Lendio’s strategy and business product buildout as its Senior Vice President of Sales and Business Operations, Sales Training and Enablement, and Business Intelligence. Under Chang’s management, Lendio has accrued a vast array of plaudits from organizations across the industry, including being named Forbes Advisor’s best of 2022 in small business loans and numerous rankings on Entrepreneur and Inc. lists of top private companies.
He holds degrees from the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business, Harvard Business School, and the Brigham Young University Marriott School of Business.
9. Joseph Hagan
Company: Advance Financial
Joseph Hagan is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Advance Financial (AF), a FinTech based in Nashville, TN, specializing in delivering a suite of financial services through its 100+ storefronts and its growing digital ecosystem. Founded in 1996, Advance Financial grew from a family-owned and operated business in the volunteer state to a tech-ambitious firm with a unique heart for the communities which it serves, helping fuel the strides it takes to make credit more available to the underserved. Joe joined AF in 2017 and grew to be keenly positioned to lead product development, loan life cycle management, service offerings, and overall operations for the organization. His investments in innovation and his “scrappy” hands-on style, have catalyzed his team to launch and scale line of credit, installment, and partner products over the past 5 years in over 25 markets.
Before his role at AF, Joe served as an executive of operations for private and publicly traded financial services companies, which included roles dedicated to launching new verticals or creating lean scalability in companies such as LendingClub, Westlake Financial Services, and CarMax. Joe also holds a bachelor’s degree in business economics from the University of Arizona, where he discovered his passion for consumer finance.
10. Curt Hess
Company: 10x Banking
Global finance leader Curt Hess is 10x Banking’s Chief Operating Officer and has helped steer the company to new heights in operations, finance, and risk management. In the three years since he was appointed to this position, Hess oversaw 10x’s wildly successful $187 million Series C fundraising, and last year he was awarded the honor of Top 10 Senior Executive by the Global Diversity List.
He previously worked in the C suite at Barclays, and held vice president positions at both Citi and Bank of America. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Queens College.
11. André Bastos
Company: Open Co
André Bastos made waves across the Americas when he established Brazilian financial services company Open Co, and has continued to grab headlines with his superstar leadership as its Co-Founder and Chief Revenue and Strategy Officer. Bastos’ ambitious development of the company’s agile corporate culture and management of its 2021 merger with Geru and Rebel has led to Open Co climbing to unicorn status and the largest FinTech lender in the nation.
Before his most recent success story, he worked in senior finance positions with the Kraft Heinz Company, Enova International, and HSBC. Bastos earned a degree in industrial engineering from Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro and MBAs from COPPEAD UFRJ and the NYU Stern School of Business.
12. Matt Stapleton
Commission and sales management software developer Spiff owes a great deal of its success to its current Chief Operating Officer, entrepreneur and FinTech standout Matt Stapleton. Under his guidance, the company has recently racked up plaudits as a leader in the sector by TrustRadius, G2, and JMP, and its new products in self-service commission plan management have been hailed as the new standard in the industry.
Stapleton has a long track record of excellence behind him, having served as CEO at Capshare and a top associate at valuation and transaction advisory company Scalar Analytics. Stapleton holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and entrepreneurship from Brigham Young University.
13. Shawn Jeffrey
Toronto financial services company Financeit is helmed by Senior Vice President of Operations Shawn Jeffrey, a seasoned executive with a high degree of experience in the worlds of FinTech and finance who previously served as that division’s vice president for close to a decade.
Jeffrey first made a name for himself over seven years as district sales manager at HSBC and a remarkable 17-year stint as assistant vice president of HSBC Finance retail sales, a period characterized by superb leadership of retail operations, sales team direction, and relationship management. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business and economics from the University of New Brunswick.
14. Sandy Kara
Company: Kabbage from American Express
The beginning of 2022 saw the appointment of Sandy Kara to the position of Vice President of Operations in Customer Service and Collections at Kabbage, American Express’ groundbreaking new data and technology platform tailored to the cash flow needs of small businesses everywhere. Kara has been a stalwart leader at American Express for more than a decade, previously serving as VP of commercial and merchant servicing in the U.S. and Asia Pacific.
She began her longstanding history of first-rate leadership working with Reliance Home Comfort, Grey Power, and Rogers Communications, where she first cut her teeth in improving outcomes for small businesses. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing and sociology from State University of New York College at Buffalo.
15. Kyle McMahon
Company: Fund That Flip, Inc.
Kyle McMahon, Chief Operating Officer for real-estate FinTech platform Fund That Flip, is hailed as one of the most analytical and collaborative leaders in the industry. His oversight at Fund that Flip has driven the company to join the ranks of Inc.’s fastest-growing companies in America.
He has previously delivered great operational success to other startups, working as executive vice president of Launch That and as Citizens Ammunition’s director of operations and marketing. McMahon earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan as well as a Juris Doctorate and an MBA in business administration, management, and operations from the University of Tennessee Knoxville.
16. Crea Scalzo
Crea Scalzo has drawn attention across the field for her work as Matic’s Vice President of People Operations, managing their global teams in HR, talent acquisition, and learning and development. The Ohio-based digital insurance agency has transformed how families procure insurance for their homes and vehicles using a cutting-edge digital marketplace.
Scalzo previously distinguished herself as the director of people operations at Brightloom and as Course Hero’s director of recruiting, prior to which she worked for three years at The Climate Corporation in San Francisco. She holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication from the Scripps School of Communication at Ohio University.
17. Steve Drew
There are few figures as respected when it comes to product management and development than Steve Drew, the Vice President of Systems and Business Operations at online private equity real estate investment platform Crowdstreet. In his four years with the company, he has led the successful scaling of Crowdstreet’s growth, expanding its signature Marketplace platform and rolling out additional functionality across markets.
Drew previously dedicated his talents to companies including Paydici, Sage Software, and Radiant Systems. He is a graduate of the marketing and management program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and he holds an MBA in decision and information analysis and strategic management from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.
18. Fiona Taylor
With unmatched experience in operations and finance and a reputation for quick and dramatic transformations of underperforming organizations, Fiona Taylor has served as Chief Operating Officer at San Francisco payment processing software developer Finix for the last two years. She may be best known for her nine-year tenure as senior vice president at Tesla, though her career has also been shaped by her decade as an officer in the Royal Australian Air Force. Taylor earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and politics from the University of New South Wales, a bachelor’s in business and accounting from Victoria University, and a master’s in financial law from the University of Southern Queensland.
19. Cassi Conrad
Cassi Conrad has worked to head global insuretech great Sure’s products and partnerships for the last several years, and in 2022 she was enthusiastically promoted to the company’s Chief Insurance Officer. An industry leader in product development and operations, Conrad has spearheaded many of Sure’s breakthrough insurance offerings, harnessing her 25 years of experience in the insurance world.
Prior to her position with Sure, she was senior vice president of strategy and operations at iptiQ, and her time working with Trov and Assurant solidified her reputation as a transformational leader in the insurance world.
20. Mike Stallmeyer
Company: LendKey Technologies
Digital lending platform LendKey Technologies is led by its Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and Co-Founder Mike Stallmeyer. With extensive proficiency in all matters credit, financing, capital markets, and operational experience, he has driven his company to its status as a change-maker in digital lending and asset management.
His remarkable career spans nearly three decades, ranging from his eight years in a vice president position with Credit Suisse to a year as executive director at UBS Investment Bank before taking the reins at his own boundary-shattering company. Stallmeyer holds a bachelor’s degree in economics with a concentration in markets and management from Duke University.
21. Jaime Moreno de los Rios
Jaime Moreno de los Rios has already distinguished himself over his relatively recent tenure with Secfi as its Chief Operating Officer. Moreno de los Rios’ appointment to this position was hailed across the industry as a smart move for the equity financing and planning platform to further capitalize on its rapid growth across the sector.
His reputation as a positive change-maker with regard to operational strategy is well earned, dating to his exceptional turns as vice president and other executive roles at Flexport, JP Morgan, and Rocket Internet. He is a graduate of the law and business administrations programs at Universidad Pontificia Comillas.
22. Judie Endemann
As Vice President Operations for digital operations technology provider Docupace, Judie Endemann brings her twenty years of experience in strategic management in the advanced tech world to the company’s mission of improving the pace of wealth management firms. Thanks in part to her leadership, the company was named one of the most innovative wealthtech companies in 2022, and this year it celebrated its 500,000th client account for its award-winning advisor transitions program.
Prior to beginning her acclaimed tenure with Docupace, Endemann served as vice president of corporate services at Lynx Technology and was HR director at SDL and Language Weaver. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Southern California.
23. Randy Spradlin
Company: iBusiness Funding
Although Randy Spradlin may best be known for his two years of excellence as Vice President Operations at iBusiness Funding, he has simultaneously performed the same duties for fellow Ready Capital Corporation subsidiaries ReadyCap Lending and Knight Capital Funding. The leadership demands of such a position are considerable, but by all accounts Spradlin has delivered only the highest caliber of executive and strategic leadership for all three companies.
He has accomplished similar degrees of transformational management at the helm of Dasceq, defi SOLUTIONS, MarkOne Financial, and Westlake Financial Services. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business and sales management from Western Governors University.
24. Michael Orme
Michael Orme took his first job as an accountant with Frazier & Deeter in Atlanta. He shortly moved on to start his career in finance at Goldman Sachs in New York City. Prior to joining the Immediate team, Orme held ownership and leadership positions in businesses based in Alabama alongside a family office. He participated in the Endeavor ScaleUp! Accelerator Program for entrepreneurs and now participates in a CFO group with start-up leaders from the Birmingham ecosystem. He is an active member of the Junior Board for Junior Achievement of Alabama. Junior Achievement brings knowledge of financial literacy, work and career readiness skills, as well as entrepreneurship skills to the youth of Alabama, which aligns seamlessly with the Immediate mission.
With the growing Immediate team, Orme helped obtain a revenue increase of over 650% from 2020 to 2021. In March of 2021, Micahel led and structured a capital raise of $15.5 million including debt and equity.
Today, Orme has helped accelerate the team from fewer than 10 in August 2020 to more than 55 in August 2022. He has established and now oversees the Treasury Management framework to support the millions of dollars of earned wage access transacted on a monthly basis and the Budgetary framework for successfully deploying capital through the five vertical teams Immediate operates. Ultimately, much of Immediate’s success is due to his diligent leadership.
25. Thomas Bryan
As Chief Operating Officer of consumer financial software developer Asset-Map, Thomas Bryan delivers industry-best organizational strategy to the Philadelphia advicetech company. Bryan’s career has been one characterized by effective leadership and high performance, serving not only as a financial advisor at RubinGoldman and Associates, but as the Deputy City Solicitor for the City of Philadelphia Law Department and editor of the Philadelphia Bar Reporter for seven years. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and philosophy from Columbia College as well as a Juris Doctorate from the Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law.
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