From Successful Banker to FinTech Entrepreneur

With a PhD in Finance, having worked in the corporate finance services sector for more than 11 years, and having founded his own business, which provides a professional marketplace solution for SME loans, there is no doubt that Tim Thabe is an expert in the industry.

"Finance has always been an intellectual challenge to me. When I started my studies and especially during the time I was writing my PhD on ‘pricing of credit-risky assets’, I explored the theoretical side.”

He started working for Goldman Sachs in London and 6 years later changed to UBS in Zurich, eventually becoming COO of the International Corporate & Institutional Clients department. His career as a banker is a success by any measure.

“After working in the finance sector for such a long time, you realize so many people are looking in the same direction. But in daily life, the catalyst to opening your mind to new ideas, concepts and opinions seemed to be missing. I wanted to create a new way of thinking along with people who think differently.”

In his classes at Kellogg-WHU, Tim heard many widely varying opinions about the finance industry:

“I was surprised to hear how my peers thought of the finance sector and the financial crisis. Some think that we are not doing things right. This really motivated me to change and actually to do something about it.”

Tim clearly did not need an Executive MBA to expand his financial skills, but he wanted to gain more knowledge in topics such as Digital Marketing, Innovation Management and Negotiation Strategies: expertise that would help his future career and facilitate a better understanding of different business sectors. He had been driven by the idea of starting his own business for a long time, but somehow the timing never seemed right. Through a lucky coincidence he got back in touch with some friends after graduating from Kellogg-WHU. Together they turned their ideas and visions into reality:

“We spotted structural weaknesses in credit supply, as banks were increasingly reluctant to lend to small and medium sized (SME) companies. This harmed the development of these important businesses and had a negative impact on the overall economy. We decided to implement our vision, to find a better way of extending credit to SMEs.”

Most start-ups do not even make it through their first year. But creditshelf exceeded its own expectations by being listed on the stock exchange after only three years in business. Tim describes, that his EMBA journey has been difficult at times due to the long working nights and the pressure of combining work, private life and studying. Nevertheless, he is grateful that it provided the necessary motivation to embark on his entrepreneurial career. He still has connections to other members of his class – he recently named one of his classmates legal advisor to his company.

“To this day, I keep in touch with colleagues from the Kellogg Global Network, and I also take advantage of the Lifelong Learning program, to come back to take marketing classes at WHU.”