How to balance business, academia and martial arts. Daria Pawęda interview


Hi Daria! Welcome to People More! New year and your new professional career chapter. Please let us know you better and tell us about your professional experience first.

Thank you for the warm welcome! It’s an exciting time as I embark on this new chapter in my professional journey.

I have been associated with banking since 1999, primarily in the areas of digitalization, new technologies, artificial intelligence, biometrics, fintech. Lastly I held the position of Director of Business Development and Customer Service at the Polish branch of Volkswagen Bank. My previous interesting roles include being the Managing Director at Kaupthing Bank in Iceland, where I spearheaded the launch of the internet bank Kaupthing Edge or Head of Project Teams in Getin Noble Bank, where I implemented biometric technology for self-service branches. I also held digital banking leadership positions at Bank BPS and Alior Bank.

Now I am also a Board Member of IESE Business School Chapter Poland and a member of the External Stakeholders Team at the Faculty of Economics, Warsaw University of Life Sciences. I am passionate about sharing my expertise through lectures on digital banking, biometrics, artificial intelligence and new technologies.

My doctoral research focused on biometric technologies, with a special emphasis on their financial efficiency. I hold degrees in finance and banking, business informatics, and journalism. I also completed educational programs such as the Advanced Management Program at IESE Business School and a program on digital payment digitization at VISA University in London.

Outside of work, I enjoy photography, travel, flamenco, and Krav Maga

Wow. That’s a lot of interesting fields you have been involved in the past. Seems like finance and banking have no secrets for you. After so many years spent in this sector, do you still find this industry intriguing?

Absolutely! The finance and banking industry continues to captivate me. Its dynamic nature, ever-evolving technologies, and the intricate dance between risk and innovation keep me engaged. Whether it’s navigating regulatory changes, exploring fintech advancements, or strategizing for the future, there’s always something new to discover. The thrill of solving complex puzzles and contributing to financial well-being drives my passion. So yes, even after all these years, I find this industry endlessly intriguing.

You have mentioned that you are member of IESE board and been working for foreign banks. I believe this gives you a great overview of what is happening in technology around the world. Which country do you perceive as the most modern in terms of banking?

Having attended conferences worldwide and worked closely with foreign banks, I’ve witnessed remarkable strides in modern banking. While the United States and various European countries lead the way, I’m particularly impressed by Poland’s digital banking landscape. Our Polish IT experts and developers are truly among the best globally. Their innovative solutions, coupled with a vibrant fintech scene, position Poland as a powerhouse in the digital banking revolution.

Thank you. Pleased to hear that Poland can be treated as a leader in banking technology. Is there any disruptive technology in finance and banking sector you find very interesting?

Certainly! In the dynamic world of finance and banking, a few disruptive technologies have caught my attention.

Artificial Intelligence enhances service quality, risk management, and fraud detection. Chatbots provide instant customer support, while predictive analytics optimizes lending decisions.

Blockchain – revolutionizing payment systems and supply chain finance.

And as always my favorite biometrics – biometric solutions ensure robust security, safeguarding financial data and enhancing user trust.

I’ve heard about your hobbies. I cannot leave it without asking about details. Can you tell us a bit about the photography? Can we see your artwork somewhere?

Thank you for your interest! Photography used to be my greatest passion, and for so many years it allowed me to express my creativity and view the world from unique perspectives. Through my lens, I captured moments, emotions, and stories that resonate with me.

I used to cooperate with the Asia and Pacific Museum in Warsaw, where I had photography exhibitions from my travels to i.e. Thailand, China, Australia, Lebanon and Russia. One of the most important was “Chinese Opera – On Stage and Behind the Scenes” –  that exhibition allowed me to provide a unique glimpse into the captivating world of Chinese opera.

I also loved to photograph dancers and I also had  few exhibitions named “Magic of Dance”, i.e. one of them was held at the Bemowskie Centrum Kultury in Warsaw, showcased my dance photography. I appreciate the grace and movement of dance and taking photos for that exhibition was truly delightful experience.

I used to have my own photography web page but as the domain was stolen, I lost my heart to that… However you still can explore my photography i.e. on Facebook Page: I maintain a Facebook page called “Daria Pawęda Photography.” On this platform, I used to share my work, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and engage with fellow photography enthusiasts. From portraits to landscapes, each photograph tells a story. Feel free to visit the page 

Thank you so much for your curiosity, and I hope my photography resonates with you as much as it does with me.

Still in hobbies… how this happened that you, a businesswoman, a PhD person with very positive attitude, interests in Krav Maga? How this happened and can you tell us a bit about it?

Thank you for your curiosity! It’s true – I wear multiple hats, and each role contributes to my journey. Krav Maga, the art of self-defense, is also a passion that surprises many. Training in Krav Maga empowers me physically and mentally. It’s not just about combat – it’s about discipline, awareness, and resilience. Krav Maga teaches me to protect myself and others, both in body and spirit. Life weaves a tapestry of experiences. Each thread – business, academia, martial arts – adds richness to the fabric. I embrace the diversity, finding harmony in the contrasts. So, whether I’m strategizing in the boardroom, researching in the library, or practicing Krav Maga kicks, I’m fully present, living a multifaceted life.

It could be also interesting for you, if I mention that I had the privilege of attending Krav Maga (and Hisardut) workshops in Israel, where this martial art has deep roots. The energy, dedication, and camaraderie among practitioners were palpable. My Krav Maga journey intersected with a legend – Yaron Havover. His name resonates throughout the Krav Maga community. Under his guidance, I refined my skills, absorbed wisdom, and understood that Krav Maga transcends physical moves – it’s a mindset. Unfortunately he passed away in an accident…

Let me come back to your professional experience. You specialize in biometric technology. What other industries can learn from implementing this technology from banking applications? 

Biometric technology, which has found widespread use in banking applications, offers valuable lessons for various other industries. Let’s explore some of these applications:

Healthcare: Accurate patient identification is crucial for providing personalized care and ensuring patient safety. Biometrics can enhance patient record management, reduce medical errors, and improve overall healthcare outcomes.

Travel: Streamlined airport security is essential for efficient travel experiences. Biometric authentication, such as facial recognition or fingerprint scans, can expedite security checks, reduce wait times, and enhance passenger convenience.

Government: Fraud prevention in social services is a critical area where biometrics can make a significant impact. By verifying identities accurately, governments can ensure that benefits reach the right recipients and minimize fraudulent claims.

Smart Cities: Access control and traffic management benefit from biometric solutions. Whether it’s managing entry to public facilities or optimizing traffic flow, biometrics can enhance urban living.

In summary, biometrics should be a win-win for various industries. Not only does it play a critical role in detecting and mitigating fraud, but it also contributes to financial inclusion and provides a more secure and seamless customer experience.

Thank you Daria. It was truly inspiring.

My greatest pleasure

Mateusz Cieślak

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