Meet the Team: David

Who are you?
I am a go-getter and I know what I want to achieve in life. I am guided by three life goals: to be with people I love, to be financially independent and to create something beautiful and change the world. I guess that is why I ended up in Kenya.

Where did you go to school?
I went to a good school in Taipei despite coming from a poor background. I was a stickler for rules and really loved school, but was a bit too much into online games. I ended up convincing a cram school to allow me to study for free for 5 years. Junior high school was the turning point for me when I took up a new focus on studies. I went on to attend one of the top three senior high schools and became a class leader and the English class assistant. I travelled to a leadership camp in the US, at which point my dream was to be a professional English cram school teacher. (Laughs) This changed in college, where I majored in finance and wanted to be an investment banker.

I joined AIESEC which I believe was another turning point in my life. I learnt how to run organizations and manage teams in that early stage. I went from just the local chapter manager to the national president. I travelled a lot. Philippines, Hungary, Kenya… I actually took a break from school to run the national team. I have interned at Google in Taipei and a Japanese consulting firm. I was in Germany for three months at DHL Consulting. I wanted to explore more adventurous options. My Barclays traineeship in Kenya led me straight to the open innovation team.

What team are you on?
I am currently responsible for large-scale client acquisition, product innovation and market expansion at BitPesa as Head of Global Strategic Partnerships. I explore new trends with partners, leveraging Blockchain technology to build future-proof products for them. Previously I served as Head of East Africa Business Development. This involved onboarding new clients like EatOut and Jumia.

How did you become part of BitPesa?
I learnt about BitPesa from the ongoing hype around Bitcoin and Blockchain while at Barclays. I was involved in these efforts with blockchain accelerators in London and a hackathon in India. I met the BitPesa team at a meeting and I jumped on the opportunity. “If we want to build our Asia Pacific market, what would you do?” That was the question that welcomed me to BitPesa.

What does a typical day at the office look like for you?
I will look at the monthly targets and how well we’re doing to achieve them. I go through my sales pipeline, following up clients depending on where they are in this pipeline. I pitch to new clients and partners and onboard them to BitPesa. Planning out my day is key to ensuring I do these tasks on time and in line with client schedules. My day also involves a bit of travelling to meet clients at their convenience. I interact with the trading team to ensure clients are getting good prices, customer service and operations to ensure the delivery is top-notch and that both API and system transactions are smooth for the customer.

I also spend some time weekly to update the team on market and expansion strategy. My role also entails working with the compliance team on due diligence. Ultimately selling the product is a large part of what I do. In my initial role in Business Development, I was selling a standardized product. However, in the partnership role, the cycle is longer since we are providing customized solutions that are specific to the partner. Bitbond is a perfect example for this. This role requires cross-functional communication and a deeper understanding of the different markets.

What tools do you use on a daily basis? Favourites?
I love Keynote. It helps me build pitch decks that are essential in my presentations to potential clients and partners. Slack is great too, because it offers instant communication with colleagues. I also use a lot of Google products on a daily basis.

What sites do you spend most of your time on?
I focus a lot on blockchain and bitcoin news. This helps in delivering the latest trends to customers and understanding how to bridge the gap between developed and frontier markets.

What is the next skill set you would like to learn or expand upon?
Leadership. I want to learn how to properly manage and build teams. Secondly, I want to learn how to build investor relationships and fundraise. Last but not least, I want to learn to listen.

What’s your least favourite thing about Nairobi?
Well, I have a couple of things. I cannot walk in the street without some fear at night. The traffic. The operational inefficiencies in a number of establishments. And more importantly, limited food options. I am a foodie. (Laughs)

Am I allowed to say what I like though? I love the diversity of people and businesses in the city. I have leant how to survive. I love that I can explore nature, see animals, travel to the beach, go on hikes all very easily right from here.

What is the last movie you watched?
I am not very sure about the last, but I can tell you my favourites. Blue Jasmine. I loved the character and how she gets through the tremendous trauma that hits her. Secondly, there is the Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight trilogy.

What book are you reading?
I cannot mention one since I am not into novels or fictional reading. I read technical books.

Dream vacation?
I have several. I want to go to the South Pole, Antarctica and see the penguins. I want to go on a cruise. I also want to travel to South America, specifically Brazil, Argentina and Chile and see what’s there.

What’s your favourite part of working at BitPesa?
I love that we are growing. The team is always thinking of ways to optimize. The transitions can be painful but exciting.

What goes on in your life outside of BitPesa?
I am now moving to the Luxembourg office, so settling down in another new country is what is occupying my time. It’s exciting. Normally, I am all about hanging out with friends and tasting different foods. I also play badminton and squash.

What is your favourite place to hang out in Nairobi?
Le Grenier à Pain – The Real French Bakery. It has nice cakes and ambience. It is a really cool place where you can sit outside in the sun and in the part of town with no traffic.

Where do you want to be in 15 years?
I want to be alive, of course. (Laughs) I want to make a positive impact on people. I want to travel around the world, to every single country. I picture myself in a nice apartment overlooking the ocean and mountains, with my partner. I will own a dog – a golden retriever or Labrador.

Tell us something fun about you!
I am fun about not being funny. I am learning to be funny; learning from our CEO. She could easily be a stand-up comedian. (Laughs)

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