As part of MoFo’s Leaders of Influence campaign, Crystal Kaldjob, co-lead of our Fintech practice, shares her reflections on her leadership style and skills, including those she continues to work on, and her current diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Crystal’s practice focuses on advising financial services clients on a wide range of issues in regulatory and transactional contexts. Crystal provides practical, solution-oriented regulatory and transactional assistance to merchants, emerging companies, fintech companies, banks and other financial institutions in strategic partnerships, including structuring and negotiating private label, co-brand credit card, and point-of-sale financing partnerships, marketplace lending arrangements, asset purchases, and loan portfolio sales and acquisitions. Her regulatory experience involves advising financial institutions, fintech companies, and merchants on compliance with consumer and retail banking laws, including laws related to the offering and operation of consumer credit, payments, and financial products and services.
Describe your leadership style how you “lead” others.
I lead by being practical, solution-oriented, decisive, supportive, and importantly, authentic. It is important to me to work towards practical solutions and to be supportive of the team by obtaining their input and working toward a solution. I do not shy away from telling my story, how it differentiates me from others, and being honest when I’m excited about a new client or a new matter or disappointed in a negotiation.
What skills do you use most often in your leadership role?
Listening, problem-solving, and leading by example. Working as a Fintech lawyer means I work with all types of clients—early stage fintechs, established banks and financial institutions, and merchants. Listening to their individual needs and developing creative solutions to mitigate risk is critical (particularly when I’m negotiating on their behalf or helping them set up a new financial product or service). Our clients have different needs, different pain and pressure points, different priorities, and different levels of knowledge about the financial services space. The attorneys I work with also have different needs, priorities, and levels of knowledge, and it is critical that I listen and try to understand and work with others to identify their strengths and how they can successfully support our clients.
What leadership skills are you continuing to work on?
I continue to work on all of my skills—particularly patience and delegation. As a relatively new partner, a successful transition from senior associate to partner is impacted by the ability to delegate (rather than to just do it yourself) in all matters—including substantive work and administrative tasks to our amazing support staff. It takes immense patience to be able to delegate successfully. If I do not take the time to invest in my team by providing them with context and clear direction, and regularly check in, delegation fails.
If you participate in firm or office initiatives, please mention the initiatives you are working on as well as the impact you hope to achieve?
I co-lead the firm’s Fintech practice, serve on the Diversity Strategy Committee (DSC) (including as a Black Attorney Network (BAN) Partner Liaison) and the Pro Bono Committee, and serve as the partner liaison for our local associate-led Women’s Affinity Group. I also serve on several task forces and steering committees for important firm initiatives. Recruiting, promoting, retaining, and creating an inclusive environment for our diverse attorneys, particularly our black attorneys, who are historically underrepresented in law firms, are why I enjoy and value being a member of the DSC and serving as a BAN partner liaison.