Luvleen Sidhu, 2020 New York Women in Banking Winner

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Luvleen Sidhu

Title
Co-Founder and CEO
Company
BankMobile

How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay?

Interestingly, growing up and even when I first started college, I had plans to become a doctor. However, when I was an undergraduate at Harvard University, I convinced my parents to let me try a finance internship. I had grown up around banking, with my father being the Chairman and CEO of Sovereign Bancorp and Sovereign Bank, and had a curiosity about it. The internship sparked my interest in the industry.

After graduating college, I joined Lehman Brothers and on my first day of work, the firm filed for bankruptcy. This impacted my career trajectory and planted in me the idea that there needed to be change in the industry. I then worked a Neuberger Berman and subsequently at Customers Bank, where I was looking into digital banking. I decided to go back to graduate school and earned my MBA from The Wharton School, where I became very interested in entrepreneurism. During my time at Wharton, I was a summer associate at Booz & Company, where I helped develop a strategy for a financial services firm to launch a digital bank. After graduating, with the research I had around digital banking and desire to start my own company, I decided to focus on creating my own venture. I launched BankMobile in 2015 with the mission to provide a financially-empowering and simple banking experience for millennials, the unbanked and underbanked, and middle-income Americans.

I stay motivated because of this mission and a desire to help people. I truly want to create the best banking experience for Americans and this consistently inspires me and helps me overcome the challenges that I face. I also stay motivated because of the example my parents have taught me – my father’s perseverance and dedication to the industry and my mother’s compassion and kindness. These characteristics have shaped me to want to support others and to do so by being fully committed to BankMobile.


Have you had any great female mentors? What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on?

I would consider her less of a mentor and more of a role model to me: Sara Blakely.  She started a company when she was in her 20s and grew it into a multibillion-dollar empire. But more importantly, the product she created empowers women to look and feel their best and Sara continues to support other women entrepreneurs. This is exemplified most recently with her red backpack initiative to fund women entrepreneurs during the pandemic.
Mentorship is very important to me and it is something that I actively focus on at BankMobile. I believe that women should support each other and that those in leadership roles should help advance others at their company. I actively mentor those around me, both through formal and informal networks. I think by helping to share knowledge and also advocating for other women, we can truly make positive changes in our industry and see more women in leadership roles.


What is your favorite book? Why?

My favorite book is The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith by Gabrielle Bernstein. It is an amazing book with countless nuggets of wisdom on how to live with more joy, faith and fun in your life while still achieving your dreams and creating the life you desire. It is a book that reminds you that your vibrational energy is your greatest source of power and when we are aligned with the energy of love versus fear, miracles happen. I feel that the author’s wisdom has allowed me to live with more ease while attracting abundance in more areas of my life.


What do you consider your greatest success?

My greatest success is launching BankMobile and overseeing its significant growth since 2015. It’s amazing that this was an idea that I started to have a little over six years ago and today we are among the largest mobile-first banks in the country. I was truly delighted that by the second half of 2019, BankMobile, a division of Customers Bank, turned profitable and that 2019 revenues for BankMobile were $86 million. We are also now collaborating with technology giants T-Mobile and Google. I consider both of these collaborations to be significant accomplishments. I look forward to our continued growth and to providing more and more Americans with our innovative and fun banking solution.