People Payments

Lots of travel, lots of learning: life as an international payments expert  

Date:April 24, 2024

Ecaterina Velixar is a citizen of the world in the truest sense of the phrase. “I was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, but was raised in the capital of Moldova, Chişinău. So I’ve been exposed to different cultures and languages from early childhood,” Ecaterina says. Later, she moved to Amsterdam for her studies. Now, she’s continuing this international life as a payments expert working for the global financial services provider via Projective Group, traveling all over the world to work on cross-border payment projects.

For her Master’s, she moved to the Netherlands. “I studied Business Administration, the entrepreneurship and innovation track, at the University of Amsterdam,” Ecaterina says.

For a globetrotter like Ecaterina, moving to Belgium was only a small step from there. “Shortly after I submitted my thesis, a recruiter from Exellys got in touch with me via LinkedIn and we started talking.” Ecaterina did a lot of tests and interviews. “In the end, I was proposed a position as payments consultant in Belgium. Again, because of my international background. I accepted and that’s how I started working for Projective Group in Belgium.”

Move to Brussels

After living in different places all over the world, Ecaterina ended up in Brussels, which has its pros and cons. “If you compare Belgium to the Netherlands, Belgian cuisine is definitely a pro. On the other hand, Amsterdam is very bike-friendly. I used to bike everywhere when I lived there, whereas I’m scared to bike in Brussels. And there are a lot of hills here as well. So that’s a con. But all in all, I really like Brussels. It’s such an international and vibrant city. I read that 70% of inhabitants are expats, immigrants, like me. It’s such an interesting place to live.”

But in the end, Belgium and the Netherlands are not that different from each other. “If I compare it to Moldova, it’s a completely different mindset though. A different way of living and conducting business. Also, there are a lot more opportunities in international business here. Career ambition really was the driver for me to move here.

Suitcase life

As a payments expert for a global financial services provider, Ecaterina still gets to travel a lot. “My role is to provide payments expertise in cross-border payments to financial institutions all over the world. It’s a great opportunity for me as a young specialist. Not only because I get to see different countries and experience different cultures, but also from a career perspective. These business trips are very interesting and insightful. I find that personal interaction really is the key to being a successful international payments expert. Talking with representatives of financial institutions face to face allows me to understand the banking industry deeper than I would if I was just doing research online and having Zoom meetings. Additionally, clients highly appreciate your presence on site. It indicates that you’re making an effort to get to know their way of conducting business, country and their culture.”

Playing favourites

When we say Ecaterina gets to travel a lot, we mean A LOT. “I’ve been to all Central Asian countries: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. I’ve also been to the southern Caucasus: Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

During her travels, two countries really stood out to Ecaterina. “The country that I absolutely fell in love with, is Georgia. I would recommend everyone to visit there as a tourist. This country has such an ancient culture, language and religion; so much historical heritage to explore. The cuisine in Georgia is truly the best that I’ve had in my entire life. The people are so kind and open. And if all that’s not enough, you should know that Georgia is the motherland of wine culture as well.”

I learn a lot, my business trips allow me to see the broader picture.

“Another country I really liked, is Uzbekistan. There’s an amazing history there, too. Uzbekistan used to be the centre of the Silk Road. And the city of Samarkand, where I have been, has lots of historical monuments, ancient mosques and so on. There’s a lot to explore, especially if you haven’t visited that part of the world.”

Always changing

It should come as no surprise that traveling is what Ecaterina likes most about her job. “I learn a lot. Not just because I get to work with different communities and cultures, but also because my business trips allow me to see the broader picture. For me, as a payments expert it is important to have deep knowledge about European Instant Payment regulation, but there is also global ISO 20022 standard that all banks need to adopt by November 2025. Seeing the global picture is especially important, because in the end, top banks operate in the global scale.”

It’s not just the business trips that she likes, though. It’s the variation, too. “In my role, I learn every day. That’s important for me. I don’t want to do the same thing day in day out. In payments, there are lots of changes happening all the time. You have to keep up, you have to adapt. So if you’re thinking of becoming a payments consultant, you need to be eager to learn. Because even if you’re in the industry for a decade, there are still a lot of things you need to learn. Finally, another thing that drives me is being able to innovate, to provide a better service to customers, which is also an important part of my daily job.”


At Projective Group, there are opportunities for people of all backgrounds and ambitions. For a globetrotter like Ecaterina, we found her a project that combines her passion for travel with her interest in finance. This position plays to her strengths and satisfies her thirst for variation and learning.

Would you like to travel as much as Ecaterina does? Or would you rather work in payments from your home base? At Projective Group, everything is possible. Get in touch and we’ll find the perfect match for you.

Inspired by her story? Check out our open vacancies right here!

About Projective Group

Established in 2006, Projective Group is a leading Financial Services change specialist.

We are recognised within the industry as a complete solutions provider, partnering with clients in Financial Services to provide resolutions that are both holistic and pragmatic.  We have evolved to become a trusted partner for companies that want to thrive and prosper in an ever-changing Financial Services landscape.