Employee Airtime: Nalin Natrajan, Financial Partnerships Manager
Get to know our Financial Partnerships Manager in Singapore, Nalin Natrajan.
Tell us a little about yourself. What’s your background and what motivated you to join Airwallex?
I am a textbook “Third Culture Kid”: Singaporean, but born in India, and moved out of the country at the ripe old age of 40 days old for a Southeast Asian tour in Manila and Jakarta before coming to Singapore at the age of six and a half. While I consider Singapore to be home, I grew up going to international schools here before completing my National Service as a police officer.
Following National Service, I moved to Chicago for university where I graduated with a Bachelor’s and Master’s from Northwestern. My time at Northwestern also gave me the opportunity to spend some time in Beijing and Shanghai to study and work. After graduation, I had a varied career that spanned consumer and medical products, to my own startup in education and a couple of fintechs, before finding myself at Airwallex.
My fascination with payments began during my university days, where I experienced the frustration of not being able to do a simple bank transfer between my friends and in the US without an intermediary such as Venmo. Eventually, after gaining some experience at a few fintechs, an Airwallex recruiter approached me with an opportunity to drive high impact partnerships across the company. Airwallex’s ambitious plans motivated me to join.
Tell us more about your job - How would you describe your role to your friends and family?
I work in Partnerships at Airwallex, looking after the company’s relationship with card networks and digital wallet providers. Describing my day job is always a challenge because the role is so varied, and requires close coordination with product, commercial, legal, compliance, and strategy teams. In simple terms, I would describe my role as acting as the bridge between Airwallex and the global card networks to enable Airwallex’s financial infrastructure rollout.
You were previously a Product Manager before transitioning to a partnerships role. Can you share more about the transition?
I worked as a Product Manager with Razer, where I led the launch of the Razer Card, as well as with Better Trade Off, where I was the Product Owner for their financial planning solution for enterprise customers. Making the move from Product Management to Partnerships was not as jarring a jump as it seems on the surface. I found that there were several transferable skills, particularly in stakeholder management, project management, working with cross-functional teams, engagement with financial institutions, and in-depth product knowledge.
How would you describe the people you work with at Airwallex?
My initial impression of Airwallex was that it was an ambitious company with talented people. The comment on people holds true today - the employees I interact with regularly excel in their work, and are always open to sharing ideas and knowledge.
You’ve been with Airwallex for over a year now - what is one of your most memorable moments at the company so far?
My role at Airwallex covers various product lines and I have had multiple wins since joining, so I don’t think I can point to an individual memorable moment in terms of a project or deal, but I still vividly the moment I was appointed the go-to person for for Airwallex’s issuing program to drive the company’s strategic partnership with Visa. It was a big responsibility that I was proud to undertake for the company.
Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing?
I like to keep myself busy outside of work with various activities. Outside of the usual sports and other hobbies such as tennis, gaming, photography, and travel, I have a keen interest in sailing, sea sports, and wine. Notably, I hold boating/yachting licences and am qualified to skipper vessels up to 24m/78ft in length. On the wine side, I recently completed an advanced level certification in wines - the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 3 award in wines.
Is there a hero who inspires you to be a better version of yourself?
There are two: Tim Berners-Lee and Linus Torvalds. Both made tremendously outsized contributions to humanity in the form of the World Wide Web, and Linux Kernel & Git respectively. Our world would very likely have not progressed much beyond the 1980s without these two technologies. The World Wide Web made the internet into an accessible and usable medium of communication, the Linux Kernel underpins almost all major servers today, and Git is basically a prerequisite for any modern tech development workflow. While I’m not in a technical role, these two individuals inspire me not only for their contributions to humanity, but also for recognising that their inventions were too important to be closed off and not open to collaboration and sharing.