Technology . Retail. Finance

Based: Cape Town

Karen Nadasen is regularly described as one of South Africa’s most inspiring women in tech, nominated for IT Personality of the Year 2017, and listed among 100 Most Influential Young South Africans 2017.

Despite SA’s negative economic and political factors and PayU SA itself consistently losing market share, under Nadasen’s leadership over the last two years, PayU has grown its total e-commerce processing volume by 225%. Revenue has gone up 136%, whilst costs have reduced significantly during her tenure. All this whilst balancing personal life – Nadasen started her tenure as CEO having just come back from maternity leave after four months.

Outside PayU, Nadasen’s industry experience, mostly abroad, ranges from FTSE 100 companies, large multi-nationals, to small-scale startups. Industry sectors include technology, petroleum, retail, medical and financial services.

How it all started

Following a computer science degree at the University of Rhodes, her career started off as a Java developer in a small development house in Cape Town many years ago.

She continued her studies at the University of Cape Town in Information Systems and Object-Oriented Programming and Design which led her to assist Shoprite, as a business analyst, with their move to .Net, before being chosen by Microsoft to work on global projects abroad.

Developing a reputation for taking on complex projects requiring rigour and tenacity to deliver, Nadasen decided it was time to move back to beautiful Cape Town where she started at PayU.

The driving force behind PayU SA

As the CEO of PayU South Africa, she drives the strategy of PayU on a local level whilst liaising with EMEA and global counterparts to align on vision, targets and goals. Under her leadership, PayU South Africa significantly increased their market share after being in decline for several years prior.

In the first year alone, card processing doubled, having signed major global players, resulting in a complete transformation of the business.

Other achievements include centralisation of operational functions such as customer support, operational and financial risk functions and integration, to optimise the business further.

“The landscape is changing and one does see a lot more about women in the media than a few years back. When I started in IT I was almost always just a party of one with 10-15 men in my team. My computer science class at uni had about five women. Today, my management team at PayU is 80% women and we have a good mix. There still isn’t enough women in the tech field so, just by numbers, it would be easier for men to shine because there are a lot more of them that take up the field as their choice of study”