Carnegie Mellon University

Integrated Innovation Institute

Engineering + Design + Business

Carnegie Mellon University Integrated Innovation Institute Logo

Alumni Spotlight - Shailesh Bhaid (MSSM ’19)

Revolutionizing the Banking Industry

Transiting through the airport four years ago, Shailesh Bhaid (MSSM ’19) was struck by a multi-million dollar idea: revolutionize one of the clunkiest aspects of the banking industry.

What converged on this fateful day?

One key component, of course, is Bhaid who built his career developing IT solutions for small start-ups to large national banks; oddly, another can be traced to the United States Congress.

While in senior leadership roles at Sunwest Bank, BNP Paribas, and Wells Fargo, Bhaid executed and directed enterprise-wide digital transformations to streamline operations and automate processes. Yet, one process in the banking industry remained painstakingly manual – compliance with “Know Your Customer” (KYC) regulations for onboarding new clients.

The tedious but necessary KYC regulations stemmed from Title III of the Patriot Act, which Congress legislated in 2001. Following shortly thereafter, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act created the TSA to oversee transportation security. And, thus, Congress inadvertently set the stage for Bhaid’s “aha” moment 15 years later:

“I was at the airport, and I saw that shorter line for the people who’ve already got their background check through TSA PreCheck. It just struck me that, for banks, it could be a similar concept,” Bhaid recalled.

Bhaid knew firsthand that KYC compliance was costly. He calculated that small to medium-sized banks spend $1 million per month on KYC while also subjecting customers to redundant, time-consuming applications and vetting processes. With close to 5000 FDIC insured banks, of which 70-75% are medium-sized, Bhaid identified an opportunity cost in the billions.

Keeping the expedited TSA screening process in mind, he envisioned using artificial intelligence and machine learning to consolidate KYC and anti-money laundering (AML) compliance checks. Aggregating that data across banks would reduce risks and costs, and facilitate benchmarking and knowledge sharing in a one-stop platform.  

The agile curriculum and faculty expertise of the Integrated Innovation Institute were poised to help Bhaid fine-tune his concept into a viable business proposition. At the time, he was on a leave of absence from the part-time Master of Science in Software Management degree program but still in touch with program director Gladys Mercier.

“Gladys helped me come back from my leave and start again. She validated the concept, and she gave me a structured approach – how to plan for it and how to design it,” says Bhaid. “It was fantastic. The whole experience was very motivating.”

He identified use cases and target markets and tapped into his banking colleagues – fellow CIOs and Chief Operations and Compliance Officers – to serve as subject matter experts.

“Through the last few semesters, I used the same business concept, and I kept grooming this idea through the different lectures,” says Bhaid. Instructor Ravi Thomas in the Business of Software course “helped present this as a business case. He gave me feedback on how we can offer this as a one-time project to banks” – a framework of services instead of a complete overhaul. “No one wants to rip out and replace their whole process.”

A month before graduation, Bhaid pitched his idea over dinner to Xoriant’s CEO. He thought that he may have found an investor. Instead, he got more: a job offer and the backing of a large software company. Bhaid now serves as Vice President of Financial Solutions at Xoriant, overseeing a team dedicated to developing his product idea.

“I started this Master's in Software Management, and it took me a couple of ‘stop and start’ to finish it off, but it's totally worth its weight in gold. It's been fantastic working with so many talented people and applying what I learned in real life,” says Bhaid.

-Related Content-