Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Mariano Diaz joined Team TransferGo almost a year ago. As our Director of Banking of Infrastructure, Mariano is responsible for our third-party relationships with our partners and making sure our payments go from A to B.
Here, Mariano Diaz discusses his exciting career and educational background (which has taken him from Lima to Chicago to London), his love for working in fintech, pushing boundaries at TransferGo, starting a new role in the middle of a pandemic and why he’s so proud of his team.
“Studying in Sweden for six months gave me a taste for living abroad. I knew I wanted to work in another country one day…
I was born and raised in Lima, Peru and I studied for a Bachelor of Science in Economics at Universidad del Pacífico in the capital. During my studies, I took part in an exchange programme in Sweden for a semester, which gave me a real taste of living abroad. When I returned, I knew that I wanted to continue my career abroad one day.
After finishing my undergrad, I went to work for Scotiabank, a Canadian bank that’s really big in Latin America. I started out as a trader, which was how my career in banking started almost 20 years ago. The experience was interesting and I have some great memories from that time.
After four years, I started to prepare to move abroad and do my Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. I was accepted into the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, which is a very well-recognised MBA. I was lucky to be accepted and I stayed in Chicago for a couple of years. It was my first big experience and transition period of living abroad.”
“Joining the world of fintech after 11 years in banking was a huge change for me. It was interesting to see the other side of the banking world…
After finishing my MBA, I landed a job at Barclays bank, which brought me to England. At the time, they were looking for graduates at the top MBAs and I was selected to be one of the few to come and start a two-year programme there in London. I had lots of opportunities to try different roles in the bank. At the end of the programme, I moved to Payments. That was over 10 years ago and I’m still in Payments today. On the back of this programme, I got a chance to move to Barclaycard to do card payment acceptance (acquiring) and drive the international expansion of the business.
Then, in 2015, I had the opportunity to move to Barclays Corporate. I moved from consumer payments into the corporate payments world. That’s when I got the opportunity to become a Product Manager for international payments. I was in charge of making sure that all of our cross-border payments were successful for 11,000 corporate customers, which represented a huge piece of business within Barclays.
Meanwhile, payments were evolving big time. A huge portion of my client portfolio at the time were fintechs. That’s how I first got close to the fintech world. In 2019, Revolut invited me to join them and manage their expansion and relationships with financial institutions within the Core Payments area and it was a great opportunity. Joining the fintech world was a huge change compared to the banking world. It was interesting seeing the other side of banking—it was very different to working at a large bank.
Then, I was put in contact with Simon Moran, TransferGo’s Chief Commercial Officer. A couple of conversations later, I embarked on an exciting new opportunity at TransferGo.”
“People are truly happy at TransferGo. There’s a huge level of connectivity, and that creates space for innovation and pushing boundaries…
My current role as Director of Banking & Infrastructure means I’m responsible for my team and the expansion of all of our relationships—so partner banks, fintechs etc. Anyone that’s a third party, basically. I make sure to maintain and expand TransferGo’s capabilities for payment. I deal with making sure we have the right coverage across all the regions and destinations we offer to users. I’m also responsible for running through 40+ relationships to 150+ destinations via different payment methods.
The culture at TransferGo is great and very different to what I’ve seen in other companies—both in terms of traditional banks and other fintechs. I think TransferGo’s level of connectivity amongst its people and willingness to adapt, plus the fact that people are truly happy in what they do, is great. It enables a lot of things, and it’s why we have the space for innovation and pushing boundaries. It doesn’t allow for stagnation, which is very important in fintech.”
“There are so many things happening right now in the industry. It’s important that everything we do brings value to our customers…
I’m very passionate about opportunities and how we can create value. Not just that, but the speed with which we can bring value. And also what those opportunities will bring to the business. The scale of innovation that this industry is going through is great. From new cross-border payment technologies, Pay to Card models and new services for fintech driven by BaaS providers to developments allowing integration to ACHs across the world, SWIFT developments and of course, Open Banking opportunities—there are so many things happening right now.
To achieve focus, we use the right insights based on data to define best direction to go in. Different opportunities have different approaches. But ultimately, it’s all about bringing more value to our customers.”
“I have an amazing team at TransferGo. They’ve brought real value to the business…
I’m very proud of my team. From obtaining approval from Visa for all their VisaDirect corridors and expanding our Russia corridors, to delivering the capability to send payments from Turkey and enabling instant payments to Romania, they’ve delivered a huge number of things in such a short period of time.
Each member of my team brings a very specific set of skills to the table and I’m really proud of the diversity of projects they have completed. This has been done by taking advantage of having them as locals in key international markets.
In terms of my own career, my biggest achievement was moving to the UK for Barclays many years ago. Then, my transition into fintech from Barclays had the largest impact on my career. It joined the dots between what I’d done until that point and what was coming next for me.
From my experience, the main difference between a fintech and a traditional bank is that you can achieve so much in such a short period of time within fintechs. There’s so much opportunity to focus on the things that matter the most. It’s inspiring in so many ways. Within the Banking & Infrastructure team, we have the knowledge to do what we do best, which is to introduce new opportunities that benefit the customer. That’s at the heart of what we do.”
“Starting a new role in the middle of a pandemic was different to what I’m used to, but it hasn’t affected our ability to achieve things…
My first day at TransferGo was from home. I didn’t go into the office until a month into the role. It was very different to any previous experience I’ve had of joining a company, but TransferGo is so adaptable. That is part of TransferGo’s success.
Working from home hasn’t been a big inconvenience and it hasn’t affected our ability to achieve things. Of course, there are things about the current situation that aren’t as good as they were pre-pandemic—like being able to travel, for example. But we’ve been able to do a lot of things remotely and that’s been a great opportunity.”
“We’re focused on some big opportunities at the moment, and our customers are starting to see the impact…
At the moment, we’re working on some big, chunky items. It requires ruthless prioritisation. But we’ve established a way of operating within my team that helps us to do what matters the most. We’re focused on large opportunities and it’s all really exciting.
By supporting our continuous expansion, we’re making payments faster and more efficient. Our capabilities are increasing and we’re becoming bigger and bigger. And our customers are starting to see the impact. In many cases, they’ve started to realise how things are becoming better for them.”
“Fun fact? I was an early supporter of the largest reforestation project in Peru…
Over 10 years ago, a friend started the largest reforestation project in Peru called Reforestadora Amazonica. The project has reforested an area equivalent to the size of the Isle of Wight within the Rainforest of Peru. It has also provided a positive impact on hundreds of local families living in poverty.”