This article is part of a series:
- Reflections on 3 years of (Transfer) Wise | Part I: Mission and Values
- Reflections on 3 years of (Transfer) Wise | Part II: Autonomy in the DNA
- Reflections on 3 years of (Transfer) Wise | Part III: All about People
- Reflections on 3 years of (Transfer) Wise | Part IV: The Engineering Organisation
- Reflections on 3 years of (Transfer) Wise | Part V: Other Strategic Topics
- Reflections on 3 years of (Transfer) Wise | Part VI: Not just about Work
- This Article
(^ Always loved those cute illustrations! ^)
This part is intentionally subjective, summing it up for the parts in the series. The views are all mine.
Firstly, a startup with a true mission and a clear vision to get there is rare. Most didn’t want to bother; some, such as WeWork, overdid it. I saw how a true mission-driven company connected like-minded people. As a group with a shared mission, the collective output was powerful.
Secondly, once those people are in place, let them do their best work. Autonomy is important but it is not a religion. Strong leadership, like a captain of a ship, should be willing to steer the ship when times are good and steady it when troubles are coming.
As for the engineering organisation, Wise tripled its engineering headcount from an already sizeable operation across locations during the period. It felt incredible to be part of that growth which showed me an engineering growth playbook to follow. It also gave me the experience and confidence to embrace more challenges in life as a product-minded technologist.
Last but not least, people are always the key to success, no exception at Wise. Take care of your people, they will take care of the business.
Looking back, it was three years in my life where:
- I learned a tremendous amount from people around me;
- I witnessed first-hand what rapid growth looked like;
- I asked many what-if questions in my mind while reflecting on my journey, some answered and others were still in need of answers;
- And I got paid for doing all of the above.
I joined Wise to see how a company post-product-market-fit scaled, to complement my learning at a much earlier stage. My experience at Wise turned out to be as relevant. It was an ideal training ground for aspiring startup founders because:
- It instilled in you the idea of always listening to customers;
- It believed in autonomy where you are expected to work out what to do and then how to do it;
- It encouraged constant feedback that helps you grow as the company grows;
- Most importantly, it showed you a way for a mission-driven company to be commercially successful.
Mallory asked me why some people jump ships every so often after leaving Wise. My response to her is that if you are motivated to learn and grow, you always have the feeling that you are yet to achieve your full potential, even in an environment where you are already 90% there. You only realise that fact AFTER you leave the previous environment, in this case, Wise. There is always room to improve for a company like Wise, and I believe that it has the right people to keep iterating on making the organisation an even better workplace for all.
By writing this, I hope I could repay a tiny piece of what I had been given over those wonderful three years.
- For my readers, I hope it gives you a sneak peek of how a fintech unicorn scaled up to its eventual IPO.
- For my former colleagues who moved on from Wise, keep flying the flag of TransferWise mafia (Sifted member-only content) like Taavet expected.
- And for my friends still at Wise, keep going with the mission and keep building.