Ola Kasperska is a Finance Analytics Manager at Afterpay, and alongside being an amazing professional, Ola owns and rides a horse and hikes Tasmanian mountains like a pro. She told us how Afterpay have supported her career journey and development, the importance of passions outside of work, and what she dreams for the future.
A dream job at Afterpay
Ola’s career has meandered through a few different industries. After completing a degree in Marketing and Business Management, she started working as a logistics business consultant. But she was convinced that there must be a better way of doing analytics than complex excel models. She then had the opportunity to join a Business Information software vendor as an implementation consultant.
“I saw that as a chance to get my hands on some serious tools and learn how to use them from the ground up. I also found my passion in helping clients build their analytical functions and deploying the software so they could harness its power in the best way possible.”
She transferred from Warsaw, Poland to Melbourne with that company, taking a resident consultancy as part of the core team for one of their largest clients. Realizing she was ready for another challenge, she got a call from Afterpay and landed her dream job!
She started out assisting to implement the software technology she was familiar with, but developed great relationships with the Finance Team, and Afterpay didn’t pigeon-hole her into a tech role. She knew she was in the right place when she discussed what she wanted from her career.
“I shared some of my concerns about my role as a broad Business Information specialist with one of the managers and in 24 hours we pivoted my duties and focused them around Finance Analytics which became my domain. I had always enjoyed the culture and accessibility of higher managers [at Afterpay] but at that moment I really felt valued and empowered.”
Now, Ola leads a team of analysts providing reporting on company performance, working with teams to assist with external stakeholder management and bridging the gap between product innovations and finance.
“The most exciting part of the role is provision of deep insights – identifying the drivers of trends and forming predictions on what the future may hold.”
How the great outdoors provides balance
Ola’s love for the outdoors helps provide balance to her interesting, challenging career.
“I am an outdoorsy person. I spend my free time out in the country riding my horse and hiking in the mountains.”
Things at Afterpay move quickly, as they are constantly growing and evolving, which makes it a really exciting place to work. It also means Ola takes her time off to really recharge.
“I try to set healthy boundaries and completely switch off on weekends. Because my hobbies are focused around outdoors, it is a complete change of scenery that helps to take my mind off work. I rarely check my email on the weekends. In my free time I try to be very present and focused on the moment.”
And for Afterpay, supporting their people to have meaningful lives outside of work is an important part of their culture, and for Ola her ten-year plan includes still having great balance and enjoying her hobbies outside of work.
How challenge can define you
The fact that Ola unwinds through the physical challenges of hiking and horse riding shows that she grows through testing herself. And throughout her career the difficult times have resulted in progress that she wasn’t always expecting.
A period she faced some difficulty was the end of the GFC when she felt like a very small fish in a big pond but used it to galvanize her to make some change.
“My perspective of setbacks and challenges has changed over time. One of the defining moments was the GFC at the end of 2009 that made career moves really hard. I suddenly realized I was a junior analyst with a Business Management degree, not a lot of experience and no very tangible skills. I was genuinely scared I would not survive in the job market – full of people very similar to me. I turned that challenge into opportunity and joined the Business Information industry.”
Once she embedded herself in tech, Ola found shifting careers was difficult because people recognized only her technical skills – and not her business and leadership skills.
“I was looking for a role that would give me a stronger ownership and more grounding in the business side. Unfortunately, most of the recruiters were focusing only on my technical skills and labelled me as a potential data engineer (and a rather average one).”
But Afterpay could see her potential and gave Ola a chance. And that changed everything. Ola herself is proud of her ability to remain focused on her purpose and her future.
“I am most proud of my ability to remain focused on my goal in changing circumstances. I managed to turn the GFC into a growth opportunity, move continents and join an absolute rocket ship of a company. At 37, I can truly say I love my job, enjoy working with a great team and still have passion and drive to go further.”