Monzo Staff Weekly Q&A - Sarah Allen (People Operations, Cardiff) 🐉


(Simon B) #1

Note : All Monzo Q&As to date can be found here :grinning:


Forum Fam! Stand up! Let’s do this! :raised_hands:t4:
Hope you’re all having a good start to your week. We might be halfway through September, but we’re still feeling
a lil summer-y over here :sun_behind_small_cloud: - not least because we’re close to a million users. Can you believe it?

That’s one in every 65 people in the UK! :uk: Amazing.

And we’re feeling pretty confident in our ability to scale that up, first to 2 million, then 3, then more… The sky is the limit! :cityscape:

As we grow larger and larger, we’ll open new offices, and expand existing ones. That’s where this week’s special guest comes in.

But you know the score by now - it’s catch up time!

****Click here to see all previous Q&As****

Week 1 : Chris MacLean, Customer Operations & Vulnerable Customers :santa:t2:

Week 2 : James Nicholson, iOS Engineer :green_apple:

Week 3 : Tara Mansfield, People Operations Manager :woman_technologist:t5::man_technologist:t3:

Week 4 : James Routley, Backend Engineer :hammer_and_wrench:

Week 5 : Hugh Wells, Customer Operations :policeman:t3:‍♂

Week 6 : Naz Malik, Technical Specialist :computer:

Week 7 : Fred Morgan, COps Squad Captain (Calls & Social Media) :telephone_receiver:

Week 8 : Emma Northcott, COps Scaling Team :balance_scale:

Week 9 : Jarno Wolf, COps Financial Crime Specialist & Squad Captain :wolf:

Week 10 : Maria Campbell, Head of People :woman_office_worker:t2::man_office_worker:t4:

Week 11 : Jim Amey, Night COps Captain :bat: :crescent_moon:

Week 12 : Richard Cook, Online Community Manager :man_cook:

Week 13 : Beatrice Borbon, Content & Press Manager :newspaper:

Week 14 : Tom Blomfield, CEO :crown:

Week 15 : Ella Johanny, COps/Hiring :handshake:

Week 16 : Harry Ashbridge, Writer :writing_hand:t3:

Week 17 : Beth Scott, Overnight COps :cat2:

Week 18 : Georgie Parmenter, Executive Assistant to the Founders :blonde_woman:

Week 19 : Vulnerable Customers Team :sunflower:

Week 20 : Leah Templeman, Interim VP People :sun_with_face:

Week 21 : Daniel Chatfield, Backend Engineer, Fincrime & Security :closed_lock_with_key:

Week 22 : Valerio Magliulo, Product Manager - Revenue Team :money_with_wings:

Week 23 : Sam Watkin, Operations Analyst :thinking:

Week 24 : Kieran McHugh, Backend Engineer :desktop_computer:

Week 25 : Jonas Huckestein, Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer :computer_mouse:

Week 26 : Annual Report Edition with Tristan Thomas and Julie Oey :calendar:

Week 27 : Zander Brade, Lead Product Designer :pencil2:

Week 28 : Richard Dingwall, Payments Engineer :moneybag: :wrench:

Week 29 : Oliver Beattie, Head of Engineering (Reliability Report Special) :watch:

Week 30 : Bruno Vaz Moço, Product Manager (Scalers) :balance_scale:

Week 31 : Dillon Van Auken, Remote COps Team Lead and Vegas Project Team Lead :first_quarter_moon_with_face: 🂡

Week 32 : Rhys Davies, COps Cardiff Office :dragon:

Week 33 : Emily Parrett, COps Call & The Gang :phone:

Week 34 : Liam Houghton, Ops Fixer :hammer_and_wrench:

Week 35 : Frances Coyle, Legal Team :scroll:

Week 36 : Shak Welch, COps Fincrime Specialist :police_car:

All done?

tenor-151483954

Then let me introduce you to our special guest!

This week in the Hot Coral Hot Seat™️ we’ve got Sarah Allen, who works in People Operations in Cardiff!

I recently spent a couple of weeks working in that office and I was blown away at the atmosphere and all the hard work that Sarah and the team have put in to making it an awesome and comfortable place to work.

Sarah just got back from holiday so I thought it would be a good time to throw her in at the deep end and have her answer all your questions! :grinning:

So, to the details!

Sarah has been here since February this year (2018) and she used to work for many years at the Tesco Engagement Centre in Cardiff. She joined us as our Office Manager and is now working in the People Team :grinning:

She’s currently working on :

Drafting and reviewing our People Policies. Running to poundland with my suitcase to get supplies for the Cardiff office! Lots of Haribo!

Fun Fact About Sarah:

I collect Starbucks Mugs from all the places I’ve been in the World. No-one is allowed to drink out of them though!

Alright y’all, get your questions in and Sarah will be here later this week to answer them! :raised_hands:


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#2

Are the Skittles and M&M’s still mixed up in the office? I think whoever did that should be ashamed :wink: (Was it the skittles and M&M’s, or am I mis-remembering…?)

What do you do in the People team…? How does it differ to what you did as Office Manager?

:slight_smile:

Liam


(Chris Rimell) #3

People policies are what I get involved in on a day to day basis (or should I say I work for a finance trade union supporting employees on the receiving end of policies) so I’m keen to understand what progressive policies you have in place or are looking at that perhaps differ from traditional banks?

We’ve recently got Lloyds Banking Group to sign up to the Dying to Work charter which deals with how employers treat employees with terminal illness (dyingtowork.co.uk). Would you sign up? I think getting fintechs involved is important because you’re setting the direction for the industry.

Have you considered recognising a union for your employees? It becomes more important as you get bigger and there are many benefits of unionised workplaces with progressive relationships (ie not simply the down tools and strike at a pin drop kind of militancy)?

What one policy do you think you need to focus on?

Are you aware of and do you support the Bank Workers Charity (bwcharity.org.uk) which provides a lot of support to bank workers? I’m unaware of whether they team up with Fintechs, but they provide a great service to traditional bank workers.

I’ll not hog the thread and finish there :grin:


(Brenda Wong) #4

I am so ridiculously happy to see this wonderful wonderful human in the Monzo hot seat this week! :blossom:

My question: What is a challenging part of your role in the People Team that people might not know about?

Also, for the community: Sar is the NICEST PERSON IN THE WORLD and if you ever have the pleasure of visiting the Cardiff HQ she will shower you with love and biscuits. She is the best.


#5

Hi Sarah,

  1. Where did you go on holiday? :flight_arrival:
  2. How many Starbucks mugs do you have in your collection now? :thinking: I’m guessing you’re a Gold member…
  3. Do you feel Monzo Cardiff is “connected” to Monzo London? Is it your role to make sure it is from a cultural/people point of view?

(Simon B) #6

What was your first impression of Monzo when you started working here and has it changed since then?


#7

If you were to choose…

Monzo Cardiff or Monzo London?


(Simon B) #8

Sarah was a bit late in sending me her favorite thing about working for Monzo.

But here it is! :grinning:

The People. You must be thinking - ‘oh yeah - there’s original! - haven’t heard that before’. :face_with_rolling_eyes:

But hand on heart, our people at Monzo motivate me and make me excited to come to work each day. For example, just came back from hols - and for the first time in my career so far I’ve thought - ‘I can’t wait to get back to work to see everyone.’ No holiday blues for me! :heart_eyes:

We have such an incredibly creative, diverse and inspirational bunch of people working at Monzo I just feel in awe of every one of our team each day.

Peoples ideas, viewpoints and stories are shared freely and effortlessly at Monzo. From a personal development point of view, I feel like I’ve learnt so much from each and every one of the team because of this ‘melting pot of awesomeness.’ :sparkles:

Keep the questions coming y’all, Sarah will be answering them on Friday :grinning:


(Sarah Allen) #9

Hey Liam - how are you doing? :wave:

Feels like only yesterday you and I were in the Pride Parade in 30 degree heat sporting our cute Monzo Pride Tees. :monzopride:

Hahahah yes - you remember perfectly. Skittles and M&Ms were mixed up. Naughty Ryan. We still love him though!

Office Management at the Cardiff Office predominantly involved looking after the engagement and well-being of our Welshies. :black_flag:󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Now, being in People Operations, it’s more for the whole company - whether that be London, Cardiff or our remote Monzonauts.

Another exciting difference is that I now manage an incredible new team that help me in achieving some wonderful things for our Monzonauts across the company.

The key things I’m now responsible for are:

Onboarding - Making sure everyone who joins our team gets a magical and seamless experience on their first few weeks at Monzo - to really set them up for success as they go on to do super-awesome things. This is super crucial right now as we continue to scale our team at a rapid rate to meet the needs of our wonderful customers.

Offboarding - Just as important as Onboarding, but when someone leaves Monzo, making sure that they have everything they need to be set up in the best possible position to continue their journey on to pastures new.

Hopefully see you soon, Liam! :star2:


(Sarah Allen) #10

Hey Chris

Some super interesting questions here! Thank you! :star2:

What progressive policies you have in place or are looking at that perhaps differ from traditional banks?

Our teams here and I personally love our policies on supporting personal development and growth. For example, we offer our teams up to 6 days a year in paid study leave, in addition to funding our teams training courses to help them learn and grow.

Our Progressive Policies encourage a healthy work-life balance are something that works really well with our team at Monzo.

Monzo support flexible working, so although we set the expectation that our teams work their contracted hours, we don’t generally mandate specific shifts: some people start work at 7am, others begin at 10am. Generally we trust our teams to work with their colleagues to find a pattern that enables them to work the most effectively.

We have a ‘work from home’ policy where we recognise that there’s rarely a genuine need for our team to work at the same desk every day, so giving the freedom for our team to work at home whenever it works better for them.

Monzo offer up to a month of unpaid leave each year, to support our teams if they would like to go off on their travels or have an extended break in addition to their annual leave.

Finally, our teams really appreciate our Parental Leave policy. moved away from ‘Maternity and Paternity’ leave and offer caregiver leave. We mirror our policies with society so we offer primary and secondary caregiver, with the same policies applying to families adopting children.

Would we sign up for the Dying to Work charter?

It’s been really helpful to gain awareness of the Dying to Work Charter you’ve mentioned. Thank you so much. I’m currently engaging our team here on how we can make this work for our team at Monzo.

Would we recognise a union?
From the research we’ve done with our people, most of the unions currently out there do not represent the kind of people we have at Monzo and the things they do. However, if someone wanted to join one we would support them 100%.

As you’ve mentioned, as we scale, the needs of our team may change. So we’ll certainly continue to engage our people on whether a unionised workplace is something that our teams want.

What one policy do you think you need to focus on?

All of them!

We are currently in the process of reviewing all of our policies to see that they are still fit for purpose as we scale. It’s also a focus of ours to rejuvenate the way we engage our teams on People Policies.

We understand that what worked for our People when we were a team of 9 in 2015 might not work for our 400+ Monzonauts - hence our focus on reviewing right now.

We’re in a great position where our teams are telling us that they are satisfied with the benefits and People Policies according to our monthly colleague engagement surveys. However, we don’t want to become complacent. We want to continue to deliver progressive People Policies that really are exceeding the benchmark for the industry.

Bank Workers Charity

Again, this is so useful to have awareness of this initiative. Thank you for flagging. I’m currently working with the team here to understand how this could benefit our teams here.

It’s reassuring to know that many elements mentioned on www.bwcharity.org.uk are things we’re already supporting our people with at Monzo.

For example, we’re currently running Mental Health First Aid Training for any Monzonaut that wants to gain this skill. My Manager, Tara, our Head of People is a fully qualified Mental Health First Aid trainer and has been delivering our training. The mental health first aid programme we run at Monzo is there to ensure there is someone to talk to at Monzo when you need to and that there is someone who is there to help you find extra resources if you need them.

Thanks again for your questions.

Have a great weekend. :sunny:

Warmest,

Sarah


(Sarah Allen) #11

Hey beautiful! Sending you lots of cwtches from Wales. :hugs:

The most challenging part of my role in the People team, is meeting everyone’s needs!

In the people team - we provide a service to the whole of Monzo on things that are often very sensitive and super important to them. You want to drop everything and help them right away but you also have lots of other things going on, too - so you have to carefully prioritise all of these different needs and requests.

Also, like I’ve described already, my favourite part of working for Monzo is that I have the absolute privilege to work with very different and talented people. :heart_eyes:

But with that spectrum of diversity, comes a definite need to consider everyone’s viewpoints before implementing something, to make sure the differing needs of each Monzonaut are considered. The key has been to get our whole teams ‘buy in’, feedback and collaboration before we make any changes to our ways of working - and not to make assumptions on what will land well without getting others input.

Keep rocking London! You absolute superstar! :star2:


(Sarah Allen) #12

Hey Theodore

Thanks for your questions. :hot_coral_heart:

  1. I went to Chicago (my new fave place - thanks to Deep Dish Pizza :yum: and my love of the Nolan Batman Trilogy :bat:), Nashville, New Orleans and Memphis.

  2. Here’s a pic of my pride and joy. 73 Mugs total. It’s pretty sad that the first thing I do when I land somewhere is log on to some wifi and find the nearest Starbucks! The sheer disappointment I experience when I realise there’s not one at my destination is pathetic! (Italy had no Starbucks - for example!)

  3. Yes - I feel like London and Cardiff are truly connected - so much so - it just feels like we’re on another floor! We often arrange Office visits where our team in Cardiff go up to London to do face-to-face meetups with the team and get to hang out with our London team. And then vice versa. We’re big on knowledge sharing so if one of our team in Cardiff has an area of expertise that would benefit London - then we can arrange for training to be delivered in London and then the same when London have something really cool and helpful to share with Cardiff.

But for the most part, our strong connections are built from Google Hangouts and Slack. Our whole culture we have around transparency allows anyone, no matter where they’re located in the world, to view and take part in what’s going on and really feel part of our mission. :star_struck:

A large part of my role is to create consistency across the company. Any processes, benefits, communications or perks we introduce in Cardiff get mirrored in London and vice versa.


(Sarah Allen) #13

Hey Simon :hot_coral_heart:

My very first impression of Monzo was that - ‘wow - we have amazing people working here’ :heart_eyes: and therefore ‘oh dear - I’ve definitely got imposter syndrome.’

We talk about impostor syndrome a lot at Monzo. For those of you who don’t know what that is - it’s when someone doubts their accomplishments and has this fear of being exposed as a fraud and not worthy of the position they’re in.

This impression stemmed from my own insecurities. I was really nervous about being the ‘new girl’ again after 10+ years in another company where I knew everyone and knew mostly everything. I was anxious about not fitting in, being too “institutionalised” in my previous company and not being valuable quickly enough to the team.

However, day one - all my nerves and anxieties went away! It was quite clear in early days that my role was what I make it. I was encouraged by everyone to have the confidence to use my own initiative and get stuck in - and that’s exactly what I did!

It’s such a culture change for me to be part of such a great feedback culture where people take the time to thank you personally for things that you didn’t even think were a big deal and it makes me want to continue to keep going and get better and better. With this culture, when things haven’t gone quite the way they should have - we have open and useful conversations that have helped me continuously learn and grow. :sunny:


(Sarah Allen) #14

I get the best of both! Although I’m based in Cardiff - I get to pop across to the London Office a lot.

I’ll always be a Cardiff girl, though. Cymru am Byth!

Cardiff office is much smaller than London. 40 people in Monzo Cardiff vs almost 300 in Monzo London. So with the size we are in Cardiff, we get the opportunity to say ‘hey’ to every person that walks in the Office each morning, really getting to know each of the team and what’s going on in their worlds. I really value those interactions. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

We’re going to be expanding rapidly in Cardiff shortly, so we’ll soon be catching up in size with Finsbury Square. Our mission is to continue to keep things as closely-knit as they are right now as we scale. :rocket:


#15

Cheers for the insightful response! I also realise I need to travel more and that your cool collection of mugs could almost pass for art :open_mouth:

Italy now has its first Starbucks so you might want to add this to your bucket list :coffee:


(Sarah Allen) #16

Awesome :heart_eyes:

Have a great weekend. :hot_coral_heart:

Me right now:
:eyes: Checks Skyscanner for cheap flights to Italy Haha


(Colin Robinson) #17

Might be worth checking Mo mondo too!


(Sarah Allen) #18

Thank you Colin! Having a look as a type :hot_coral_heart:

Have a lovely evening!