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My first two weeks at the bank of The Free

October 22, 2019

A slippery start to my first day

It was 8:15 when the torrential downpour started. Cycling through Amsterdam was something that I have (after a few minor incidents) become accustomed to. However, you can never quite prepare for cycling through Amsterdam when the heavens decide to open up, leaving you puttering along through the Westerpark on your modestly priced, one-speed bicycle, resembling a drowned rodent.

Trying to see the bright side in all this, I was comforted by the notion that no matter what my first day of work threw at me, it couldn't be as bad as the first commute in.

First days are typically a whirlwind of fast-paced introductions and fleeting pleasantries, finishing with death by HR bureaucracy and trying to look like you know what the hell you're doing when operating the coffee maker (no two offices in the world seem to have the same one).

Luckily, this wasn't the case at bunq, apart from the Dutch coffee maker I encountered. I had the fortune of meeting Ali the CEO almost a year previously in my last job, and I was impressed by his enthusiasm and the conviction he exuded when speaking about the company and his mission to change a broken banking system.

A young and ambitious team with a vision

The atmosphere I encountered in the office can best be described as youthful and incredibly dynamic. When introduced to the team I would be working with, I found a talented group of young professionals with strong convictions about the potential of the business. These are incredibly promising signs when designing a strategy to help them on their journey,

Something I was keen to avoid in my next challenge was a prolonged 'settling in' period, which usually translates into handholding and micromanagement for the first few months which can feel like purgatory at times and the 9th circle of hell at others.

In this case, it was abundantly clear from the word go what was expected of me within the company's strategy, and in that respect I felt empowered to base important decisions of my instincts. Those that know me professionally will agree that this is how I like to work!

My first 10 days were filled with writing, engaging stakeholders from across the company, rewriting, strategising, analysing and establishing processes to attempt to conquer two of the most challenging aspects of any content team; establishing consistency and effective communication. I even starred in a social media promo with a German payments partner which had its perks.

In the corporate world there seems to be a lot of discussion about the importance of diversity and inclusion but insufficient action, I found that bunq is leading by example. My new colleagues were made up of all types of personalities from 19 different nationalities. Take the office pod of four I was assigned to; we had the UK, Italy, Spain and Ukraine all represented and all genuinely enjoying each other's company.

In just two weeks we have made some great strides in redefining our content strategy to better represent where bunq is going as a business and to spread our message of what the bank of the future should be. That is a challenge I'm absolutely raring for. Watch this space and prost!

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