Seema Khinda Johnson, Nuggets
Listening. Instinct. Focus.
These are words often spoken by mentors and clients yet, so rarely taken to heart — unless one takes a big risk such as the one Seema Khinda Johnson took when she left the corporate world to follow her entrepreneurial instincts.
Based in London, Seema Khinda Johnson is one of the founders of Nuggets, a British startup helping consumers take back control of their ID and payment data by storing it in a blockchain-based platform. Leaving the corporate world can often jolt someone’s career with a boom or bust, because it all depends on how they deal with the risk.
Read more: The Most Influential Women in Payments, 2020
“Having held senior leadership positions at global corporations like Skype and Microsoft, it was making the move into entrepreneurship ... You're stepping away from the security those big companies can offer into a world of unknowns. Whilst challenging at times, it has also been massively rewarding and was definitely the right decision,” said Johnson, one of PaymentsSource's Most Influential Women in Payments for 2020.
Five years ago, Johnson had been the head of go-to-market (GTM) in global marketing for Skype, which is owned by Microsoft. Prior to that, she had spent two years as the head of delivery management for Skype. These were big jobs with a lot of visibility in a company ranked 26th in the Fortune 500 list — a great launching pad for an executive career.
Shifting to an entrepreneurial role required paying attention to constructive criticisms offered by mentors, colleagues and clients over the years: “Always listen, never assume. Follow your instincts. Be obsessed [focused] with the problem and not your product,” Johnson said.
These traits are often demonstrated by successful executives as they show careful consideration for others, a laser-like focus on the client need or issue at hand and an impartiality as to the solution ultimately chosen to get things done. Additionally, they also show that sometimes a gut instinct can’t be ignored even though signals may point the other way.
When it comes to issues such as getting more women into C-suite jobs in payments, Johnson states that the problem isn’t in getting more women in C-suite jobs, it’s getting more women into beginning managerial roles to expand the available pool of women at each management rung.
“So the issue doesn’t solely lie at the C-suite level, it begins much lower down the ladder, where steps need to be taken to ensure greater parity between men and women. Advances in equality at the managerial level will lead to an improvement in the statistics of women in C-suite positions across many industries, not just payments,” Johnson said.