Women in C-Suite | Oriel Pays

August 29, 2022

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Women in C-Suite | Oriel Pays

Meet Oriel Pays, Ozow’s Chief People Officer.

Oriel, or Orie, as she’s affectionately known around the office, has a passion for people, identifying their core skill sets and helping them make the most of these skills, while ensuring they’re growing and excelling at Ozow. As you may have guessed, Orie is a people person, so you can forget about shaking hands with her as she almost always opts for a warm hug hello.

Originally from KwaZulu-Natal, Orie comes from a family of strong women who have been role models in her life, providing inspiration and support. Orie credits them for being the foundation of her success and drive.

Being a successful woman in C-Suite, balancing the demands of people operations in a hyper scaling fintech and the needs of her family is no mean feat. To gain a little perspective on this we had the opportunity to catch up with Orie to talk about her accomplishments, her journey at Ozow and how she manages to keep our employees in top form, while maintaining a stable family life with her husband Thomas Pays.  

Can you give us some insight into your career journey thus far?

As a young woman growing up in the late 90s and early 2000s, I was fortunate to have strong female role models who taught me to care and love unconditionally. My late grandmother and beautiful aunt were forces to be reckoned with, both serving as nursing sisters in our local community hospitals. I too believed I could follow in their nurturing and caring footsteps, only to realise that gory blood and open wounds were not for me.  

After catching the travel bug, I decided to pursue my studies in tourism. I was set to conquer the world, and this was such an eye-opening experience for me. Little did I know, whilst visiting London I would meet the love of my life, and this was the beginning of my and Thomas’s entrepreneurial journey.

What has your journey at Ozow been like?

My Ozow journey has been one of creative freedom where I have been given the ability to fulfil a role that plays to my strengths.

In what ways has Ozow allowed you to grow in your career?

When I decided to become a leader working alongside my spouse, I couldn’t have imagined the challenges I would have to overcome. Being a business owner and leader isn’t just a job; it affects your role as a mother, a spouse, and your position in the family. It’s a daily challenge that you must accept to become a better person and leader. Like your decision to be a mother, the decision to take on leadership affects everything.

What kind of leader do you aspire to be?

To remain consistent, supportive, and positive, ensuring that my contagious, positive energy reflects through my team and beyond. As a leader, some of my skills include delegating and finding the strengths of my team members. I identify where each person's strength lies and give them the same creative opportunity I have been provided with in order to thrive. Many people have inspired me, but my greatest inspiration has always been my spouse. He taught me to set my standards high, refuse mediocrity and never settle. He has led me to believe in myself.


What plans do you have for the future of Ozow in your role?

My plans with Ozow have always been, and will always be, to maintain and uphold the vision of the company. Being in the people team I am in a fortunate position that allows me to engage daily with the life force of the company: our people.

Managing, taking care of, and motivating people is what I do best. I plan on continuing to do this and help Ozow reach unicorn status with our amazing team behind us.

What’s one piece of advice you’d like to give people who want to follow a similar career path as you, and make it to C-Suite level?

I firmly believe that the only way to do great work is to love what you do. Steve Jobs said it best when he said: If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, don’t settle.  

Oriel told us that she gets asked this next question a lot, so we included it.  

How do we do it? How do I work with my husband while simultaneously raising three kids?

Working with my spouse has been the most significant thing that could have ever happened to me. I have always felt a strong connection with him as we share the same goals and values and celebrate success together. We are happiest when we’re together and at our lowest when we’re not. Of course, there’s also the side of the coin.

This includes handling the pressures of the working situation in a different way. Avoid bringing work stress home and then trying not to discuss the elephant in the room. Our personal and professional pressures have sometimes become intermixed.

No matter the challenges we face as a working couple while raising our family in this crazy world, we have a theory: as long as we get to say goodnight to each other at the end of the day, we are ready to take on the world at the crack of dawn.

Our secret to happiness is always to spend quality time together and as a family, always have something to look forward to, and never lose respect for one another.

Ozow is growing. Fast. If you can see yourself working alongside the likes of Orie or any other member of the Ozow rocket ship, apply here.

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Staff Writer

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