Jan 26, 2022
5 mins read

Joining our team: Lessons from our head of people operations

Magdalena Hristova - Customer Marketing Manager at PayhawkMagdalena Hristova
Payhawk team posing in front of our main office.
Quick summary

Scaling up is big for us at Payhawk. Just as we help our customers scale their expense management and business spend, we continually scale our operations. Our product capabilities and customer base has grown a lot since 2018 — and so has our team.

In 2021, startup veteran Merita Ramadani joined the Payhawk team to help us expand our recruitment process and bring more capable people on board to support customer success and product and business growth. Now at the start of 2022 and head of our people operations team, Ramadani caught us up on her journey with Payhawk so far. And what a journey. Since joining, Ramadani has been involved in two funding rounds, countless satisfied customers using our corporate cards, and more than 60 new additions to the team.

Why I joined the corporate cards space

“You need to be passionate about both the people you’ll be working with and the product you’re building,” Ramadani said. “Product and people are inseparable. I had some previous knowledge of corporate cards and expense management, but I was completely sold on the product’s benefits by the time I began recruiting. Automation is all around us. It didn’t make sense to hear about finance teams that are still dealing with the burden of chasing expenses etc. Payhawk offered a comprehensive solution that is easy to believe in.”

Yet, besides the corporate cards and software, Ramadani was impressed by the people behind the solution. They had previously launched a working product with only four people on the team: One product manager and three engineers. “It was truly fascinating to see what such motivated and capable people can develop. Meeting with the founders reaffirmed my confidence that Payhawk will execute successfully in a massive market. If they could kick off powerful software and corporate cards with a skeleton team so early on, imagine the lengths we will go to now as we scale.”

Ramadani was impressed with the investors on board too. “One lesson I’ve learned is to always pay attention to who roots for you and the company.”

Take your career to new heights

Context vs. control

Setting context over control is a crucial part of our company culture. “Giving me freedom in my work shows me recognition,” said Ramadani. “And, it’s great to be able to honestly share the way we work with prospective employees and new starters.”

Understanding the context makes it easy for our team to excel in what we do instead of being limited by micromanagement. Ramadani stresses that one of the key things she learned is always to be open to new ideas regardless of their origins, especially those that challenge the status quo. “Something that will always stay with me is that great ideas come from unexpected situations, and perhaps even from unexpected sources.”

So, if you come up with a plan, pitch it to your team members, share some metrics, and it could very well turn into something we push forward. That is the kind of direct impact you can make at Payhawk.

“Essentially, if you do a good job at hiring, you don’t need to establish tedious mechanisms to ensure people perform at the level you want them to. So far, we’ve done a pretty good job at Payhawk in terms of high-talent density,” stresses Ramadani.

Talent scaleup

The startup status of a company is the golden stage to set the right internal culture of the team and its approach towards processes and challenges. Ramadani reiterates that startups and scaleups in the fintech sphere should prioritize looking for people team professionals. Their responsibility should not be limited to recruiting people exclusively. Instead, they should manage the entire employee cycle while ensuring that they help preserve company culture. “Our team at Payhawk grew more than 200%, from 25 to 80 people in a year. And we still have the same values and attitudes as in the beginning. What’s changed is just the scope in which we operate.”

And the last piece of knowledge that Merita shared was: Recruit people who genuinely believe in the core product. “Corporate cards, or expense management as a whole, are becoming a hot topic in financial services. Fintech products like ours solve massive problems. You have to find people who take interest and pride in scaling the product.”

If our approach to working together sounds good to you, check out our blog, the top reasons for working at Payhawk. And visit our careers page today.

Magdalena Hristova - Customer Marketing Manager at Payhawk
Magdalena Hristova
Customer Marketing Manager

Maggie has been an integral part of our journey from a modest three-person marketing team to where we are today. A jack of all trades, she navigated through social media, directed various video campaigns, and started our customer marketing function. Outside the office, she embraces the challenge of being a mediocre snowboarder.

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