Bound Updates

My first 30 days as Head of People at Bound

Bound Team

Clear expectations

I’ve always praised folks with polyamorous career paths: actors turning to presidents or politicians to war captains. Or more simply traders who become marketeers or bakers. This requires some risk-taking and a willingness to grab any learning opportunity, anywhere.

I have a pretty steady career line in people roles myself apart from a 3 years gap as a judge. Not so common but not so unbelievable either. And while there’s a lot of buzz about #futureofwork, actual companies are often reluctant to give a chance to non-standardised profiles. Get your degree, embrace a function for the next 40 years and climb the so-called “career ladder”.

Meeting Seth and Dan, founders of Bound, was a relief. We talked about how to support the future growth of the company in terms of talents or how to shape a great working culture from the first chat. I was immersed from the very start in Bound’s world: trustworthy, easy, and straightforward communication. Exactly what Bound is trying to build for their FX customers.

It felt great to actually meet people who practice what they preach. The deal was clear: treat employees as good as customers in a fast-growing and hectic environment. And a remote-first organisation.

Experimental days

As in any startup, at Bound, you have to plan and do at the same time. So this is about choosing the few right battles and not getting lost in the flow. And speak up. But really. There is so much news, changing elements, and potential perspectives that you need to listen up, assess, and then focus on. When you’ve been long enough in a very corporate environment, this can be tough. I’ll have to make sure all our Bounders have a safe space to do so.

So very classically, I started my first days at Bound by “onboarding myself” in the company. Seth and Dan had prepared some elements (ie 30-60-90 days plan) and I did also some pre-boarding tasks (setting up a remote office, reading a bit about FX business…). I spent my first days meeting all the team, getting to know each other, understanding their role and interactions, trying also to capture what the strategy, the product, and the customer’s expectations were like. An excellent way to start thinking about the design of a good onboarding program!

It’s stating the obvious but in a remote culture, you do have to unveil the unsaid, right from the first days: why this type of message is delivered on Slack, what’s the use of this meeting, or how decisions are actually being taken… So this took a bit of energy and time for me to figure out in the midst of a creative chaos what would be the first projects and how to break priorities down between short and long term topics. I’ve decided to lean on the Bounders’ vision, Seth and Dan’s plan and my own observations to come up with a mixed roadmap including immediate actions (like recruitment), concerted and middle term ones (ie career pages) or long terms ideas - imagining and shaping a manager(less) culture -

What I did not expect though would be that everyone on board would be so interested and creative on these topics and collaborative to tackle them!

Not everything is hunky-dory

Building and trying is the daily life of a startup when facing a huge growth challenge ahead. But you still have to give everyone a true psychological safe space to allow it and I feel like Bound has already been great at gathering an open-minded community of not so like-minded people even if gender gap has reached a critical aspect: I am one of the 19 guys of the organization for just 1 (fantastic) woman… Yes Bound is about tech people in an FX world where male predominance is not even questioned. But we all feel concerned (to some different extent about this issue and Seth might be one of the most worried. How are we ready to turn the tide? Are some options taboo and how am I ready to stand up for DEI: this is what I want to address in the coming weeks.

A second and key point of concern: most of the sales and marketing teams are English-speaking persons coming regularly to the office in London whereas engineering teams are continental Europeans working remotely. Even if collaboration between the teams is highly efficient right now, we must make sure that different silos and working cultures do not emerge due to geographies, functions, or native languages. Remote-first organisation will have to be nurtured to offer everyone a great employee experience. I am thinking of random meetings and ambassadors (to be continued in this regard).

Great Chapel Street

I was super happy when Seth and Dan asked me to come and visit them, from remote to hybrid working. I therefore spent my third week at London’s office.

I’ve been working remotely or partially for more than 10 years, but I do praise the tiny informal moments of the office life: the meal we shared on Monday, Caleb’s dog looking for a playmate, small  talk between 2 meetings, a beer (or more) at the end of the week.

I’ve been at Bound for just 5 weeks and it feels really more… I must make sure to remain on track with top priorities while being flexible enough to welcome new topics. Series A, company growth, HR tech, DAO… My role: helping people to find their way. My own challenge here: less process and more people.

I will keep you posted!

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