Feeling supported, accepted and empowered: How having a ‘safe space’ has allowed these tech talents to grow and lead

Visa aims to attract and develop female Stem talent in Asia with its inclusive and mentoring culture, as well as constant training to develop their business and leadership skills

Ms Reyna Razali (left) and Ms Ong Zhi Min are confident they can take on the roles they want at Visa based on their merits, interests and passions. PHOTO: VISA

Every time you make a purchase online and pay with a Visa card in Singapore or anywhere across the globe, people like Ms Reyna Razali and Ms Ong Zhi Min are working hard to ensure that your transaction is safe and secure.

Ms Reyna, Visa’s global director of product security architecture and assessment, and Ms Ong, a manager with the issuing solutions payment digitisation team, are among the many women at the global payments company who are building rewarding careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) field.

Their success, and that of many other women at Visa, is the result of the company’s long-term commitment to attracting and developing some of the brightest female talents in Asia.

Thriving in Stem amid learning and inclusive culture

In one of Ms Reyna’s first few jobs after graduating with a Bachelor of Science with Honours majoring in computing and information systems in 2003, she faced gender discrimination in her early career as a woman working in Stem. “I found some clients didn’t trust that I could perform my job well and deliver their needs and requirements,” she says of her experience.

Having faced gender discrimination early in her Stem career, Ms Reyna Razali hoped for an opportunity to work with a company with a diverse and inclusive culture. PHOTO: VISA

When she was offered a job in Visa 10 years ago, she jumped at the chance as she wanted to explore a new opportunity in the payments industry.

A world leader in digital payment technology, Visa offers career development, learning opportunities and attractive benefits to anyone, regardless of their gender, who has the right skill set and talents. Just the team Ms Reyna was looking for.

Since then, Visa’s diverse and inclusive culture, and environment that fosters learning, have been some of the key reasons why she has stayed at the global payments company for so long. 

Over the last decade, she has seen her skills and career grow rapidly, as she took on a variety of roles across different areas of Visa’s business. “I’ve worked on everything from assessing and improving the security posture of an acquired entity, to reviewing potential risks associated with Visa’s most critical applications,” she says.

Today, Ms Reyna, a director of security architecture, leads a team of cybersecurity experts tasked with ensuring that customers can use Visa’s payment services securely and with peace of mind.

As someone passionate about diversity, Ms Reyna says she has always felt supported in her career journey at Visa. “There has never been a time at Visa where I’ve faced any gender discrimination,” she shares.

The company promotes the idea of women in technology so much that I feel like I belong; I feel motivated and proud to be a woman working in a male-dominated industry.”

Enabled to build a career around her tech passion

As one of the young leaders at Visa, Ms Ong’s career journey with the company started even before she graduated. She had spent three months with Visa’s summer internship program. The experience, which included opportunities to work end-to-end on meaningful projects that were later used by millions of customers, was so rewarding that she decided that she wanted to work full-time for Visa after graduating from university in 2016.

Ms Ong Zhi Min, now an engineering manager, wants to help more young people pursue a career in technology. PHOTO: VISA

The last six years working at Visa has been “nothing short of amazing”, she says. “I’ve transitioned from starting out as a software engineer to becoming a people manager today. Over this time, I’ve been fortunate to build my career around a passion for technology and I cherish the success and challenges, as well as seeing the work I do have an impact on peoples’ lives.”

“Visa’s commitment to supporting women in Stem has given a voice, safe space and empowerment to me, and all women in Visa – that we can take on various roles we want in our career based on our merit, interest and passion,” Ms Ong says of the difference joining Visa has made to her career.

With a strong passion for technology and mentorship, Ms Ong, who now leads a team as an engineering manager, is committed to helping more young people pursue a career in technology.

“There were many people I met in Visa, especially my manager, who have been selfless in supporting me through my journey. With the humbling experience I have gained so far, I really love to pay that forward by sharing it with young graduates starting their career,” Ms Ong adds.

Commitment to invest in local talent

Ms Ong is not alone in her efforts to help develop local talent. In 2021, Visa launched its Technology Traineeship Program, in partnership with IMDA’s TechSkills Accelerator to develop Singapore’s next generation of IT experts such as tech engineers, systems analysts, and cybersecurity analysts.

According to Ms Goki Muthusamy, head of people at Visa Asia Pacific, the Visa Technology Traineeship is just one way that the company is investing in Singaporean talent. “It’s an addition to our graduate hiring program where we train early career Singaporean talent in payments, and our Visa University corporate campus which offers existing employees courses to hone business, leadership and technology skills,” she adds.

Like many of her female colleagues at Visa, Ms Ong feels her future at the global payments company is brighter than ever. “With the supportive culture at Visa and numerous learning pathways, I know there will be endless opportunities for me. I look forward to growing with the company as the industry continues to evolve in the next decade,” she remarks.


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