When I started my career, one of the many requirements for a job is technical or business domain skills. Along with the career development, communication and management skills had turned to play a more important role.
While I fully embraced and welcomed advances in technology and banking industry in last 15 years, now comes the age of Fintechs and startups. As a product strategy manager, I spent last 2 years dealing with Fintechs. The more I engaged with them, the more I was impressed by their people – even the biggest fintech firms are supported by with a relative skeleton crew. There are so many things to talk about these startup talents. Besides passion and enthusiasm, today, I would like to highlight three things we could learn from these talents, three things that make these startups unique and successful.
Entrepreneurs fight to build and save a company. So does its employees.
All In is more than just an attitude resists the temptation of backup options. It is a lifeline for startup staffs who are thinking about launching a new idea and a new product. Given the scarce resource, if they can’t find a way to turn the startup around in the next several months, cash might be burned to zero and the company will be forced to shut down.
All In certainly does not mean to put every efforts and investment in one basket. But it holds the keys to strive our best in the new digital economy and achieve the success of innovation. However, in a big organization, such as Infosys, we are lucky enough to be offered with many alternatives in our decision making. The flip side of this, by human nature, is we many times choose to stay in a comfortable “renew” zone without dedicating ourselves to make “new” things happen. Unfortunately, dedication and consistency are among those characters we need most to succeed in innovation.
A full stack developer is someone capable of performing tasks at any level of the technical stack: OS, server, programming, and even UX design. More than just a technical perspective, a full stack startup talent can do sales, business consulting, and technical presentation in different scenarios. I have seen a Fintech CEO presenting business value, talking about technology integration specs, and discussing commercial terms in one conference call – and he nailed it very well! Instead, there were 8 people from our side in the call and still, we called extra resource to support the discussion.
Of course, it’s unfair to refer a Fintech CEO as the requirements of a regular employee of a traditional technology company. However, in a broader context, full stack means being pushed outside of our comfort zone to constantly learn new skills. Full stack means a spirit of doing innovation by changing ourselves to adapt to multiple roles – always ready to accept new challenges. And, full stack means to keep us cool and sexy in the industry, and so does to our business.
Agility is the ability to rapidly respond to change. Although agility is one of the key principles to achieve success in a digital world, it is usually a character that a big company lacks. Can traditional organizations achieve the same speed and agility as a startup? Maybe not. Can an employee of a traditional technology company or a bank be equipped with a similar level of agility as startups? Certainly yes. In many cases, agility is not a matter of process or culture. It is a matter of individual will to think out of the box, and to strive to make change a routine part of organizational life to solve problems.
No pain no gain. In this brave new world, it is critical to have talents that with all-in passion, that can constantly learn new skills, and be able to break a routine part of the process. These are important characters of startup employee that we could learn to make us, and the company success in a digital world.