Past achievements also brought frustrations
There were a lot of exciting moments throughout my career before joining bunq: pitching a new marketing strategy to Nestlé bosses, being equally nervous and excited before my first day at the Tesla office and launching kickass 360° ad campaigns for Chrysler.
Truth be told, most of these things sound exciting only because they are now distant memories. In reality, a few explosive breakthroughs here and there were not nearly enough to outweigh weeks of pointless motions you had to go through. What was even more soul-crushing was the amount of passion my colleagues had that I then saw gradually decaying each day. However, that’s to be expected - in places like these, even the best ideas usually follow one of two predetermined paths:
- Going nowhere after weeks of lengthy emails, ridiculous conference calls and excruciating meetings.
- Going through countless approval stages and layers of management which takes a serious toll on the initial idea. A couple of highly questionable changes here, a few ‘adjustments’ there. By the time the final product is ready, you can barely recognize what it was initially supposed to be (cue The Godfather’s Vito Corleone “Look how they massacred my boy”).
From getting shit delayed to getting shit done
For someone who’s passionate and really wants to change things for the better instead of sitting around and discussing completely hypothetical scenarios, the process I described above felt like my own personal hell. When I read about the ‘Getting Shit Done’ attitude at bunq on my way to the interview, I was slightly intrigued, but didn’t pay much attention to it - as far as I knew it could have been another meaningless HR quirk.
However, as soon as the interview started, I somehow realized that bunq was the place for me. They didn’t care much for talking, they weren’t impressed with my past conquests. Instead, I was immediately told that the only thing that matters here is Getting Shit Done. That was refreshing, but not too surprising, the world-famous Dutch directness seems to thrive even in diverse international environments. However, it also felt honest and efficient - it’s a very fair agreement and I very much prefer things this way.
Others talk about user-centricity, we live it
After five months of working at bunq, I can’t even fathom going back to tedious (and pointless) meetings involving 10 people and requesting three approvals every time I want to sneeze. In fact, when you get rid of those 90-slide-long PowerPoints, 3 hours of blah-blah in a boardroom every day and stop being CC’d in hundreds of emails, something funny happens. You realize you can actually do ten times the amount of work you did before. We never have meetings for longer than 30 minutes and there’s a framework in place for fast and efficient decision making. As an added bonus, you no longer dread your very existence every time you wake up on a Monday morning!
Oh, and one more thing. A lot of companies claim to be all about their users nowadays. However, I have yet to see one that cares as much as bunq, and not only on paper. Sending chocolate bars along with the cards, inviting bunq fans (trust me, there are plenty) to company events, having the CEO join in to help with the customer support shift to solve issues for users - there’s basically no limit to the lengths we will go to make users lives easy. Unsurprisingly, there’s no bigger sin at bunq than not thinking enough about our users. In my book, that counts for a lot.
The above thoughts are my own based on my own experiences with a variety of companies. I fully realize there are benefits to working in an array of different work environments. However, where I am now really is the place for me, and if you’re looking for a hardcore challenge, it might be the place for you too.
Evgeny - Head of Data & Research