Rishi Oberoi

Rishi Oberoi – CAO at Varo

Finance was not Rishi Oberoi’s dream career, but he has embraced it and found it extremely satisfying.

What’s your story?

On the surface, I am a leader in banking and finance having spent a couple decades in the field. I love what I do but this is not how I started. I was, somewhat, directed to this path by the weight of my student debt coming due. I don’t regret it though. My career is marked by constant evolution, driven by an insatiable quest for knowledge and self-improvement. I am known for being a builder and a change agent. Underneath the surface, though, my story is one of perseverance, learning, and a quiet confidence in the face of adversity.

What excites you most about your industry?

The transformative potential to serve as the economy’s backbone while directly impacting individual lives and communities. Especially in working with the underbanked, there’s a profound opportunity to bridge gaps, foster financial inclusion, and empower those often left on the sidelines of the economy. This role in shaping more equitable access to financial resources and contributing to community building not only drives economic growth but also creates a tangible sense of purpose in my work, knowing each effort helps uplift and support those in need.

What drives you in your career to push beyond what other people consider normal?

I have a relentless quest for knowledge and a desire to lead a balanced, fulfilling life. This insatiable curiosity pushes me to explore beyond the confines of my profession, engaging in diverse and enriching interests. It’s this holistic approach that empowers me to challenge myself. This thirst is likely moulded by my various life experiences but it helps me embrace opportunities for learning and self-improvement, striving to bring a unique, well-rounded approach to my endeavors and to make a meaningful impact.

What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?

I’d have to say adaptability, strategic problem-solving, and innovation have been my most valuable skills. Thriving as a ‘firefighter’ requires the agility to address urgent challenges effectively, while my skill as a ‘creator’ leans on my ability to innovate and build from scratch. This unique combination has enabled me to develop new functions, lead initiatives that drive change and navigate complex situations.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

There are so many but in the present time, I’d have to pick a well known advice that a close mentor repeated to me earlier in my career “Make sure you’re not the smartest person in the room”. I went from having to learn as much as I could to be in a room and shine, to being in a room to learn as much as I could. If that makes sense. This mindset has further helped a lifelong journey of learning and growth, transforming challenges into opportunities for improvement.

Who inspires you?

I am an aspiring Stoic, so some of the teachings from the Roman period of Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Seneca are a particular inspiration to me to stay grounded while being on a quest for knowledge. But more than “who”, I have a tendency to find inspiration, or rather motivation, from life’s challenges and the imbalance and inequality around us. Its counterintuitive but without struggle, there would be no purpose.

What have you learnt recently that blew you away?

Recently, the advancements in artificial intelligence have truly blown me away. AI’s capacity to learn, adapt, and even exhibit creativity challenges our understanding of intelligence and innovation. From automating complex tasks to solving intricate problems and generating new knowledge, AI’s potential seems boundless. Its rapid evolution not only promises to revolutionize industries but also offers a glimpse into a future where human and machine collaboration could unlock unprecedented possibilities. Witnessing AI’s growth has been a humbling reminder of the limitless horizons of human ingenuity and the exciting, uncharted territories we’re yet to explore.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?

I would embrace failure more openly and take even bolder risks on a personal level. Understanding now that the most profound growth and learning come from our missteps and challenges, I would lean into uncertainty with more confidence. Embracing every experience as a vital step in my journey would have fostered an earlier appreciation for the process of becoming, rather than solely focusing on outcomes.

How do you unwind?

I am family person first so I find my joy and recharging soaking as much time as I can with them. When not with family, I immerse myself in activities that challenge me mentally with books, podcasts, studying and physically with time at the gym, riding my motorbike or long car drives.

What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your career?

There was a point in my career I was struggling to get my point across in meetings. I shared this with a gray-haired colleague asking for advice. And he told me to think of “them” and not “you”. Moving away from a mindset of getting my point across was difficult but once I developed an understanding of my audience, it was much easier. It isn’t about what they want to hear, but what are their motivations, known perceptions and expectations. You can craft a relatable communication and more often get your desired outcome, relatively speaking.

Everyone in business should read this book:

There are many but for a good chuckle, I’d recommend – “Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life” by Spencer Johnson. This book uses a simple parable to reveal truths about change. It is a superb and enlightening story of four characters who live in a “maze” and are searching for “cheese” to nourish them and make them happy. The book emphasizes that change in inevitable and is especially relevant for leaders who should be ready to accept and adapt quickly when change occurs.

Shameless plug for your business or career:

I work in a space where we are revolutionizing the way financial services are delivered to the underserved communities, ensuring that everyone has access to affordable, transparent, and reliable banking solutions. As a seasoned finance professional and having lived through financial challenges, I am proud to be part of efforts that drive inclusion and empower individuals through innovative banking practices and cutting-edge technology. Imagine being a lifeline for those traditionally excluded from the financial system, and every day breaking down barriers to create a more inclusive economic future – that’s a satisfying career!

How can people connect with you?

I keep my social media exposure limited so the best way to connect with me professionally is through LinkedIn.

Social Media Links?


This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.

About The EnterpriseZone Writing Team

Shining A Light on the Small Business World and highlighting Entrepreneurial Investing Opportunities.

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