Exclusive: ‘Stop-press Swashbuckler’ – Valentina Kristensen, OakNorth in “Swashbucklers 2020”
We’ve all heard of OakNorth, right? And why is that? Well… chances are, it’s because of Valentina Kristensen. Kristensen was just 25 years old when she built OakNorth’s press office from scratch. And she’s done a first-class job of it. We love Valentina Kristensen for her up-beat, high-energy approach to fintech. Hop aboard Kristensen, we need you on the crew!
Media, magazines, and mentorship
Over the years, we’ve been keeping a close eye on Kristensen’s work, and we’re really impressed with the regular high-quality press releases. Someone’s got an excellent sense of strategy here and we think it’s her. We asked her more about her journey. “I was 25 when the opportunity to join OakNorth presented itself”, Kristensen elaborates. “So, I still had a lot more learning to do and had never established a press office before. However, I had belief in myself that I could do it and five years on, I’m so glad I took the chance as I now have an amazing team and have had the opportunity to work on some fascinating projects”.
Away from the office, this Stop-Press Swashbuckler has gone on to co-found and chair the acclaimed publication, Influence Magazine. “This is the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ member magazine which we launched in 2016”, Kristensen explains. “Launching a print magazine was a risky move given how much media has moved online, but it’s been a huge success, winning several awards and being cited numerous times as one of the key reasons members renew their membership”. Nice one Kristensen!
Kristensen has also taken on an ambassador role in mentorship scheme, ElevatHer. “ElevatHer’s mission is to empower women in the fintech and financial services industries one connection at a time”, Kristensen explains. “This mission really resonates with me as I have benefitted throughout my career from having some amazing role models and mentors (both men and women), so I want to help (…) bring this to more people”.
A go-getting attitude
Something we love about Kristensen is her wonderfully sunny outlook. And why not? Why be miserable all the time when you can be happy? Quite right Kristensen. Quite right. “I’d say my super-power is the ability to always see the silver lining”, Kristensen elaborates. “I actually won an award when I was younger for being the most positive kid in school!” We’re not even a bit surprised! We first noticed her go-getting attitude when she took part in the Payments Race some years back. “I visited 13 countries across three continents in 12 days, seeing first-hand how important cash is for so many people around the world – particularly the unbanked”, Kristensen recalls. “This experience really made me appreciate just how important it is for financial services businesses to build diverse teams as this is the only way they can develop products and services that cater to the needs of a diverse range of customers”.
What does the future hold?
So, what’s next for this fun-loving Swashbuckler? We dived right in and asked about future. “It’s been a really exciting year at OakNorth – on the bank side, we’ve continued to support businesses throughout this year, approving over £1.4bn in new loans since March, including c.£500m via CBILS and CLBILS”, Kristensen reveals. “On the enterprise software side, we’ve announced partnerships with several banks, including SMBC, PNC and Customers, and there are more to come, so watch this space!”. We certainly will!