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Bringing Banking To The Cell Phone Masses : Obopay CEO Carol Realini (Part 2)

Posted on Saturday, May 24th 2008

SM: As you look back on your career, do you feel your decisions were strategic, planned decisions?

CR: It might have been! I remember my first day at work. I walked into this big building and I was 1 of 2 women technical engineers. Women were just entering the technical workforce back then. I was bright eyed and I remember thinking I wanted to run that company some day. I have no idea why I was that ambitious. I worked really hard but never ran that company. I changed my goals from time to time but I always wanted to be the CEO of a company. I was able to do that by 1990.

SM: Some would say you had a great opportunity at Legato, and it took some guts to make the move you did. Why did you make that move?

CR: Why did I leave Legato? Yes, it was definitely going well. I had a great job and the company was on the move. Somebody told me if you are not a CEO by the time you are 40 you are never going to make it. I was not 40 yet but I started thinking a lot about getting that top job. I decided I needed to put myself on the accelerated schedule. That was part of the reason I left.

Fast forward ten years and it looks like a good decision. By then I had built two companies. Chordiant Software was doing well but I was not the person that was going to take the company public. We hired a professional CEO to take the company public and I retired. At the time, I thought I was retiring forever because I was 46. I really accomplished way more than I ever thought I was going to accomplish. I had worked really hard doing three startups in a row. I said to myself, “There is more to life than just working. I am not going to work anymore.” My husband and I moved to Aspen Colorado. We loved the mountains and skiing so Aspen was a great fit.

That began a four year period for me which was an amazing timeframe in my life. I did a lot of skiing and biking and all sorts of stuff. After a while I decided I would take some of my skills and apply them to some areas which were new for me. I knew a lot about raising money, and a lot about handling money. I continued to be an angel investor in a couple of companies. Some of those were successful in that time period.

Even more interesting and pertinent was another line of my endeavors. I ended up getting involved in International development and foreign aid.

SM: In what capacity?

CR: I met John Marks who is the head of a really large non-profit in the area of conflict resolution and he asked me to join his board. I like to think of it as democracy building. The name of the organization is Search For Common Ground and it works in about 15 countries worldwide. They are established primarily in places that have been conflict zones. There is a lot of involvement in Africa and the Middle East as well as some in Indonesia. The work is fascinating and the organization has quite a number of people worldwide. It is over 25 years old. When I got involved with that it opened up a whole new world for me.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Bringing Banking To The Cell Phone Masses : Obopay CEO Carol Realini
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