Q&A with Arun, Banking Lead (Europe) at TransferWise

Banking and ExpansionLondon

There have been times when I’ve been in a room of 50 people trying to convince them to work with TransferWise. It’s intimidating. They don’t know who we are, what we do and are relying on me for information. My job is to convince them and come back with a bank account and approval to work with the partner. You have to build credibility, but also have the confidence to go for it at times.

Why did you join TransferWise?

Before TransferWise, I worked at a bank for 6 years. By the end, I was fed up with working in a big company with lots of processes and a lack of freedom to express myself. I was looking for a fast-growing company where I could have an impact, learn and take on lots of responsibility.

When I saw the role here, I knew right away it would be a position where I could have a significant impact and be a part of building the product too. The people I met during my interview process convinced me to join more than everything. Everyone seemed so smart, but friendly and approachable.

In a nutshell, what do you do at TransferWise?

I work with banks and regulators around Europe to help TransferWise move money as quickly and cheaply as possible. Day-to-day this means everything from finding new partners, convincing them about what TransferWise does and negotiating contracts with banks and regulators.

What’s the biggest challenge working here?

Coming from a large organisation that moved slowly, the biggest challenge here is to do things fast. Especially convincing big organisations to move quickly so that we can get our product to their customers.

It’s a constant hustle to remind them about the project and get things moving as fast as possible.

What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on?

A project around dealing with Brexit. To ensure our business can keep operating and make sure our customers’ money is safe when Brexit happens. It included getting a license in Belgium, which was a lot of work. My role was looking after our European partners, analysing the impact for them and understanding problems that Brexit can cause in their business — and then finding solutions to those problems.

Most interesting place you’ve used your TransferWise card?

In the middle of rural Japan. I was surprised there was a store that would take the card and delighted to see our card working there flawlessly.

What does working with freedom and autonomy mean to you?

For me, it means being trusted to make the right decisions. To not have to get approval from someone who knows less about your job than you do. In my previous company, I had to take things to 3-4 committees, before making decisions or actioning them. I didn’t feel trusted. When you’re the person who knows the most about something you should be trusted to make decisions, this is what I love about my job here the most.

Tell us about a time when you disagreed with your lead and why?

Once there was a feature that was de-prioritised, but I strongly believed it was an important one to ship as soon as possible to improve the experience we give to our customers.

I convinced the team of my view by justifying the size of the problem and impact the feature would have. If we didn’t ship it, it might take another 4-5 months and impact the customer experience. Even if it wouldn’t be the perfect solution from the start, I said it would be better to ship before our competitors, and we could fine-tune it after.

What’s the most unusual job you’ve ever done?

I did an internship at Unilever in their Supply Chain Team. One of the suppliers was PG Tips, one of the largest tea manufacturers in the UK. Visiting their factories, I got to see how they make tea and what a complicated process it was to get such a simple product perfect. Seeing the number of stages was eye-opening. I saw the ground tea going into the boxed supermarket packaging. It was fascinating how automated the process is, and I learned how important every single step – making the tea bag, counting them, weighing, wrapping it up – all were. I say this as a true tea-loving Brit!

Tell us about a time you went out of your way to help a customer?

I was doing a side-by-side with one of our customer support agents. A customer was upset that their money hadn’t been received yet. And it turned out to be due to a problem with one of our banking partners. Funnily enough, I had a chat with the bank the next day. Knowing how upset our customer was and having learnt their problem, I was able to solve the issue directly the bank. It taught me about the importance of side-by-sides – in your day job, it can be easy to forget the impact your work can have on our customers.

Favourite slack group?

#Pub-club – it’s a great way to get to know the area and your colleagues. We get together for random pub nights, and it’s also a great way for newbies to get to know people.