Meet the Team Series: Mandeep Kang
Co-Founder and CMO at Bricktrade
Exciting times and developments taking part at Bricktrade. With this in mind, and the occasion of International Women’s Day, we’d like to introduce you today to one of our co-founders and power women in the house. Meet Mandeep Kang, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer. Learn more about her journey and background through this interview by Jillian Godsil (originally published on Irish Tech News).
Short bio: Mandeep Kang is a former banker, woman in finance, certified mortgage advisor, entrepreneur, mother, and co-founder at Bricktrade.
Please see the interview below:
Jillian: Tell us about your background and education.
Mandeep: I studied Law and Business, and graduated in 2003. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and I wanted to learn the in’s and outs of how great businesses should be structured and the processes involved in making a business successful. Law is integral to good business as many entrepreneurs will know — you need to know how to read and interpret contracts in all aspects of business and know where you stand in terms of and regulations.
Jillian: What attracted you to finance? What roles do you see yourself in? Or was it a falling into (ie accidental) career?
Mandeep: Working in finance was a happy accident, so to say. I was looking into a part time opportunity whilst at university and managed to secure a role with a top tier UK bank — this then led to a full time position. Whilst working in the banking sector, I enjoyed helping consumers understand complex financial products and in turn educate them on how they could achieve their financial goals. My progression in banking paved the way for me to become a mortgage advisor and underwriter. I went on to obtain a qualification to become a fully certified mortgage advisor and underwriter.
Jillian: How far did you get in your corporate career?
Mandeep: Once I completed my CeMAP qualification I became a qualified mortgage advisor and underwriter for a top tier bank. After a number of years working for a corporation I decided to work for an independent mortgage brokerage, this gave me insight into a wider range of corporate and financial products. I quickly realised that most of the products a consumer needed have very high barriers to entry and are inaccessible. I therefore became focused on how we could reduce these barriers for the average consumer. This became the genesis of Bricktrade.
Jillian: Did you notice gender disparity in your roles across your career?
Mandeep: In the retail side of mortgage lending at branch level I would say there was an equal balance. However I was aware that there were very few females at the top level and there are fewer women sitting in positions of real power.
Whilst working in the banking sector, it was a sackable offence to discuss your salary packet, this meant I was unaware of any imbalance in wages therefore I didn’t directly experience any discrimination.
Jillian: Tell us a bit about your family.
Mandeep: I met my husband Guv whilst I was working at the brokerage firm. Our backgrounds complemented each other. We went into business together and opened up our premier estate agency — Waterfronts, with the vision of opening up our own mortgage brokerage. Which we put on hold because we decided to start a family. I am very blessed to be able to have two beautiful boys, 8 and 4. We then found ourselves in a good position to start Bricktrade.
Jillian: How did you find maternity leave?
Mandeep: Being a parent I believe is the most difficult but most rewarding job in the world. I have thoroughly enjoyed parenting both my boys watching them grow, taking their first steps, their babbling turning into words, strolling to school. The milestones are endless. It was not an easy journey, to say the least. When I had my first son I tried to take 6 months off, but inevitably I would be pulled into meetings to support the business and ended up going back to work a lot sooner than anticipated. During this time because of our drive and passion we were able to open up an office in Hong Kong. This brought a lot of pressure but was rewarding as I knew we were building something that could provide a great future, and with the help of my husband we managed to make it work and had our second son.
Jillian: What attracted you to entrepreneurship?
Mandeep: I have been passionate about having my own business since I was a child. I come from a family of first generation immigrants and they instilled a work ethic and the importance of ownership into me at an early age. I saw my family work hard and struggle but in the end they owned their labour and assets. I realised from a young age that this is the highest form of freedom that one can attain so I have always strived to have my own business and my own assets. As such this is what I find rewarding — helping others to own their home or even a slice of real estate.
Jillian: When did you first hear about cryptocurrency?
Mandeep: I would say I first heard about Bitcoin in 2015, being in finance it intrigued me that another financial system could be created, without the need for a central authority, government to uphold it or maintain it. Coming from a corporate background meant that I didn’t initially believe it was possible — however the more I started to learn I realised crypto is a revolution and can bring more financial inclusion and could break our reliance on the banks.
Helping create Bricktrade has made me more enthusiastic in my efforts to continuously learn about cryptocurrencies & blockchain, a space I found very daunting initially. I armed myself with knowledge, researched, read various crypto publications, listened to podcasts and followed crypto news. I was particularly inspired by attending crypto events- this gave me a real insight into this industry.
Jillian: Do you have any reservations / excitement about this space?
Mandeep: I feel inspired by the whole space, the ability for this technology to disrupt how traditional industries and sectors have been working for the better, with increasing transparency, speed of transactions, and security. That being said, things do move very quickly in this space so you have to be prepared to learn on the go! I often feel exhilarated with all of the possibilities within crypto — even with Bricktrade we are aware that we are currently just scratching the surface and we are excited to help more people with our platform. This fills me with purpose and really drives me to keep on going.
Jillian: Do you find this space very male dominated?
Mandeep: Yes, without a doubt. A trip to any crypto event or even a crypto forum will show that it’s a very male dominated industry — however over the last few years I have seen more women enter and they are quickly becoming leaders in the space. I have seen a few influential women making real progress in the space, who I look up to as mentors.
Jilllian: Does being a role model come with pressure?
Mandeep: I didn’t start this to become a role model and it isn’t something that I had considered. However, I would love to help more people achieve great things and if my experience can benefit someone then I am happy to help. I do believe there are a lot of opportunities for women in this space and I know having more diversity in the space will allow us to create better products that help more people. So I am excited to help more women learn about crypto and break through that glass ceiling!
Jillian: Any advice for women just entering this space?
Mandeep: From the outside it can feel very intimidating because as it stands this is a very male dominated space. However, once you step inside you realise very quickly that there are powerful influential women in this sector who are making great progress and paving the way for other women to enter this nascent community.
My advice would be, we have so far just scratched the surface of what we can do in/with crypto. It’s still a relatively new industry. This means that there is a lot of room for new ideas and I personally would like to see a lot more women join this space.
To give you some insight about me — when we first had the idea for Bricktrade I was extremely sceptical because of my background in traditional banking. Questions such as ‘How were we going to follow the regulations?’. ‘How are we going to reduce the barriers to entry?’ so many questions needing answers. I soon realised that nothing was impossible and translating my traditional finance skills along with my husband’s experience embarked us on this journey to revolutionise property investing.
I believe that crypto is a huge opportunity for anyone and everyone. I would also say that from my experience, I have found crypto communities welcoming and open minded. So if you have no experience of crypto — start learning, get involved in conversations with the community, watch videos on Youtube and attend some of the meetups in your local area.