Q&A with Diana, Global Head of Banking and Expansion at TransferWise

Banking and ExpansionLondon

My most interesting project has been our expansion into Brazil. It’s a massive project and learning experience for me, with lots of ups and downs. It’s such a different market in so many ways. But it was so interesting, understanding the regulatory environment, talking with partners and banks and learning from local customers.

The second is building a team. To me, the biggest challenge of becoming a team lead has been to understand how I can have an impact through others. And the amount of effort and dedication it takes to build others up so TransferWise can grow faster.

Why did you join TransferWise?

I needed to send money back to Colombia to pay for my student loan. I came across TransferWise and thought it was an amazing product, but I realised it had no presence in Latin America. I thought to myself – I want to build this product and help to bring it there. I found a position that aligned with what I’d done in my previous job as a financial lawyer, and I thought I could really bring value and build a career here.

I previously worked at a law firm in Colombia. I knew it wasn’t for me, and I was looking for something more exciting where I could have a bigger impact. Here I can see and influence how we build our product and have an impact on real customers.

In a nutshell, what do you do at TransferWise?

I lead the global Banking and Expansion team that helps take TransferWise to more countries around the world. We deal with financial regulations and partners to enable our services to be present in more countries.

Have you done any other roles at TransferWise?

I’ve always been in the Banking team. I started as a Latin America Banking Lead. I then progressed to leading half of the team, and now 4 years into my time at TransferWise, I lead our global team.

What steps did you take to progress here?

It’s a matter of finding a way to have an impact, quickly. It took lots of work with other teams to deliver projects. I see my career progression here as quite organic – you start helping others to deliver faster, and suddenly you realise you’re leading bigger projects.

My advice to others is to be proactive, build relationships across teams and find areas where your input will be valuable, without anyone asking you to do this. What helped me was to find problems nobody was solving and start owning them. I’ve never been satisfied with the basic job description I was given. I’ve always tried to do more. Not just because of it being a career move, but because I’m motivated to have more impact.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learnt during your journey here?

I’ve learnt to speak up. Everyone here is smart, proactive and ambitious. You’re not competing with anyone, but to be heard you need to get out of your comfort zone and be vocal, otherwise, nobody’s going to notice the value you bring.

What’s the biggest challenge working here?

First, keeping up with the fast pace. We have so many things going on – so many teams and projects. It can be challenging to understand what everyone’s doing and where the problems that you can have the most significant impact on are.

Second, autonomy. It’s the best thing and the biggest challenge. It can be a shock to a lot of newbies. Suddenly you have to make decisions on your own and figure out how your team lead can help you without telling you what to do.

Most interesting place you’ve used your TransferWise card?

Argentina. People there loved the colour of our card!

What’s your team’s fun tradition?

Our spirit animal is the honey badger – it defines us as we need to be fearless talking to regulators and banks, negotiating and often, making the impossible possible. So we use the honey badger emoji everywhere and share a video of it with new joiners.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made at TransferWise?

Trying to keep a currency open for a long time, and not making the decision quick enough to close it when the product wasn’t good enough for our standards. It can be hard when you’ve built something to take a step back and stop something you’ve worked so hard on. There’s so much pride in what you built. I learnt to be stronger at making decisions when things just aren’t working.

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

I worked at a jewellery shop. I loved learning about the types of jewellery and precious stones. The job also taught me to react quickly and think on my feet as customers are right in front of you at that moment.