Meet Niyati Goyal: Building Up Women (and Products!) at SoFi

SoFi Director, Software Engineering, Niyati Goyal, spent most of her career working for some of the biggest names in the tech industry. A perpetual curiosity and desire to learn brought her to SoFi. Today, she’s sharing what her team builds on the Engineering, Product, and Design team, how she’s supporting other women engineers, and her excitement for where Fintech is going. 

We are excited to get to know you better, Niyati. So first things first - if you could have any superhero power, what would it be and why?

Niyati: I love to explore new countries and places but hate the long flights and connections. If I could teleport myself anywhere, anytime that would be kind of cool. 

So what is your next planned trip? 

Niyati: Switzerland. We had originally planned to go in 2020 but had to cancel due to COVID-19. I’m looking forward to getting there one day. 

Other than traveling the world, what are some of your hobbies outside of work? 

Niyati: I love reading, painting, designing home decor products, and interior designing - I am currently pursuing a course online!

That is so cool. We have a true renaissance woman here, folks! Let’s talk about how you landed at SoFi. You are new to the company - what inspired you to join, especially during these incredibly challenging times?

Niyati: I am a lifelong learner and a true believer in the power of technology to drive positive change. These two principles drove me toward SoFi. SoFi offered me the ability to learn a whole new domain of financial technology and discover how it can positively help people become financially independent. Having spent the better part of last decade working at big tech companies like Amazon and Expedia, SoFi also provided me the opportunity to dip my toes in the start-up world. I thrive in high paced environments where change is the only constant variable, and working at SoFi has helped me experience this first hand.

Tell us how your first few months have been. Has anything surprised you so far?

Niyati: It has been an amazing experience so far. I have a very collaborative and supportive team and leadership. I have been given the opportunity to plug into a few high-impact projects and have had the liberty to make informed decisions at a rapid clip. I have really enjoyed cutting through the red tape and getting straight to the task. One of the things that has surprised me is that even though we are a relatively small company, we have plenty of resources available to all employees to practice and promote self-care. It is great to be part of a company which is true to its mission and at the same time takes care of its people.

Any tips for new hires joining SoFi?

Niyati: SoFi is a great company with a lot of fun challenges to solve and the freedom to “run after problems”. Go do that and have fun while doing it. 

Tell us about your team and how your work supports our mission.

Niyati: I lead the Engineering, Product, and Design (abbreviated to EPD internally) group that supports the Operations teams at SoFi who take care of our members when they contact us through different channels like SMS, calls and chats. The team’s mission is to help build and continuously improve the tools and processes that not only support but enthrall our members, plus we get to arm our agents with intelligent tools to serve our members faster and better each day. 

I have also been given the opportunity to build two new squads from the ground up to build our central core services to help us scale across all Products.

Your team’s work is so impactful, Niyati! You can’t get much closer to our mission than by supporting our Operations team, who is on the front lines helping our members achieve financial independence 24/7. 

Changing gears a bit - we have to acknowledge the elephant in the room.  There aren’t a lot of women in engineering, and this is even more pronounced in leadership roles. How have you navigated sometimes being the only woman in the room? 

Niyati: Throughout my career, I have certainly had a number of experiences where I had  to deal with both conscious and unconscious biases. I  have been the only woman in the room, on the team...and one time, the only woman on the entire floor! It has not been an easy journey, but each experience left me stronger. I reached out and sought mentorship from other women leaders in the company and actively looked for opportunities to find allies in the room through 1:1 conversations. I attended Women in Tech conferences like Grace Hopper where I learned about the experience and learnings of other women leaders in tech. Finding this community gave me the confidence to gradually find my voice.

You mentioned seeking mentorship. Do you have a mentor or sponsor? Do you mentor or sponsor other women?

Niyati: Yes, I have been fortunate enough to find great mentors as well as sponsors throughout my career. I actively reached out to seek mentorship and invested time and energy in building relationships of trust and mutual learning which continue beyond my time at any organization.

I also mentor and sponsor women on my teams or those who have reached out from across the organization.  I not only see it as an opportunity to give back but an avenue for me to continue to learn and grow through their experiences. Most of my mentors and mentees are also now friends that I am fortunate to have around me. 

Other than seeking our mentors and sponsors, do you have any advice for women who want to become an engineering leader at their organizations?

Niyati: To start, I would advise having a conversation with your direct manager and other leaders in the organization about your aspirations. Seek out active feedback on areas that you can invest in to become a successful or better leader and then actively set goals and invest time to get to them. Lookout for mentorship opportunities from leaders that you respect and look up to and invest time in building trustworthy relationships with them. 

Everyone learns differently, but for me, I love reading, so I would recommend either reading or listening to audiobooks in the areas you are looking to grow. In my experience, it’s not just technical aptitude that will help you grow your career, it is learning how to be an effective communicator; specifically,  understanding the five elements of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. These are all critical skills to becoming an effective and inspiring leader.  

At the beginning of this interview, you talked about how the opportunity to learn financial technology helped inspire you to join SoFi. In your own words, how would you describe “Fintech”?

Niyati: Finance is a vast area with a lot of complex intricacies which are not easy to navigate and sometimes become a roadblock towards achieving financial goals or independence. Technology has the power to improve their use and delivery to consumers and make it accessible for anyone and everyone. That is the true value of the integration of Financial instruments and Technology.

Why would someone want to work in engineering in this industry? 

Niyati: One thing that excites all engineers are challenges!  Since my short time at SoFi, I have learned that there are a lot of unsolved challenges in Fintech which offer incredible opportunities for SoFi and engineers alike.

Any advice for others who like you, want to explore Fintech? 

Niyati: There is no better way to explore than to be in the middle of it all. SoFi is at the forefront of transforming an industry that hasn’t changed in decades. We offer a variety of financial products all in one place using cutting edge technology. 

Your excitement is infectious, Niyati. What excites you most about the future of the Fintech industry? 

Niyati: We are still scratching the surface of it and there is so much more opportunity and potential to be unlocked. 

You are an inspiration, Niyati. We are excited to watch your career at SoFi. Thank you for your time today!

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The individual featured is a SoFi employee. Their personal experiences, obviously, do not take into account your own specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. Results will vary.

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Kari Scheidt, Talent Brand @ SoFi