Monzo Staff Weekly Q&A - Vuokko Aro (Lead Product Designer) 🖌

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


So… in case you missed it… We just did a fundraising round of £85 million and are now valued at an eye-watering £1 billion :astonished:

Although it is definitely a milestone (and one the media like to talk about), it’s important to remember that it isn’t, itself, an achievement. The real achievement is when we no longer need to fundraise and are a self sustaining and profitable business! :muscle:t4: But this investment will certainly help us get there! :grinning:

So it’s business as usual here at Monzo, and we’re knuckling down to bring you more awesome features, squash bugs, and continue on our mission of Making Money Work For Everyone :raised_hands:t4:


Before we get into this week’s Q&A… 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:

Week 37 : Sarah Allen, People Operations :woman: :man:

Week 38 : Simon B, COps Community Specialist :globe_with_meridians:

Week 39 : Natalie Price, Visual Designer :paintbrush:

Week 40 : George Webster, Night Cop :crescent_moon:

Week 41 : Brenda Wong, COps, Call & The Gang :telephone_receiver:

Week 42 : Niamh Power, Mobile Engineer (Android and iOS) :calling:

In the Hot Coral Hot Seat™️ this week… we have…drum roll please…


Lead Product Designer, Vuokko Aro!


Vuokko has been here since June 2017 and is presently managing our Product Designers and growing the Design team and its culture!

Fun Fact About Vuokko!

“I’ve lived in 8 different countries and I speak 6 different languages”

Get your questions in, and she’ll be here to answer them later this week! :grinning:


Which countries and which languages?

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I know your role has changed a bit since you started here, could you talk a little bit about your progression in the company? :grinning:

Have you ever stuck little Lego men on those Lego earrings (which look amazing! :grin:)?

Also, what tools do your team use for designing?

Lastly, with the new iPad seemingly encroaching on the professional space (with the full version of Photoshop launching on it), do you think it’ll be used by more designers in future?

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What’s the best designed app on your phone at the moment? (Other than Monzo…)

I’m based in Chile and Banks are trying to catch up the value experience that is now offered by fresh fintech players like you and non-financial ones such as Netflix. However, their product roadmaps look more like agile tactics or release plans rather than meaningful artifacts that help them achieve their vision and articulate/manage their product strategies.

So, how do you guys manage your product roadmap? What are the key things that you do to bring Monzo’s vision and strategy to your teams? How do you measure the intersection between user experience and business results?


What’s your favorite thing that you’ve ever designed, at Monzo or anywhere else? :art:

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What 2-3 bad product decisions that Monzo avoided in your opinion? Something that would turn out to be a total disaster? :wink:

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Hey Vuokko :wave:. From Simon’s intro it sounds like your role is primarily people management and culture related. Is that right?

If so, how much actual design, if any, do you do? How important (or otherwise) is it for a good leader to have an appreciation, or a talent for, the discipline?

Finally, can you give us an indication of how big the team is and who does what? Some of us will know of Hugo and Zander from the Community - how do you all fit in these days?

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What are your design principles? And how does one go about building their own design principles? :memo:


Who is your favourite office dog, and can you post a picture? :dog:

I really enjoy you speaking about design at the all hands we have, do you enjoy passing that knowledge on? Can you do more of it?

What’s your favourite part of the Monzo product?

What would you change, why and how?

What are you passionate about? (other than Monzo obvs)

Do you like cats?


Hi Vuokko! :hot_coral_heart:

There might be a bit of overlap with some of the questions people have already asked, but:

  • How did you become interested in design? And how did you end up becoming a product designer, specifically?

  • What are your aesthetic touchstones / inspirations? (whether they have anything to do with tech or not — could be movies, music, art!)

  • What are the best parts of your job, and what are some of the challenges?

Are you new to managing?
If so what tips would you advise someone who’s looking to be a good manager / team leader?

What are your tips to get around mental block when designing or writing etc?

What’s the structure of your team? Do you work on multiple projects at once?

Hi @vuokko

Do you as a designer have your own unique signature?

(like how bomb makers have their own way of doing things… Sorry for the comparison, couldn’t think of another way to describe :see_no_evil::see_no_evil::see_no_evil:)

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Me again! If you don’t mind, I have another question. I asked Zander this in his Q&A:

I’d be interested in your views on product design vs service design vs graphic design. Do you think these are similar or different things?

I was wondering what your thoughts were. Do you see design as primarily visual/graphic or is it something else?

If you could have one piece of design furniture from anywhere in the world what would you choose?

Hi! This is an easy one to start with :sweat_smile:

I’ve lived in the US, Finland, Australia, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, France and the UK… and I speak English, Finnish, Swedish, French, Spanish and German. The ones I use regularly are :uk:, :finland:, and :fr:.


Hey, thanks! :smile:I’ve tried sticking every possible kind of Lego piece on there, but everything looks too messy! I prefer the clean and minimal look :nerd_face:

About our tooling: we use Sketch for product design, Illustrator for iconography and visual design, After Effects and Lottie for animations, Principle for prototyping micro interactions, Marvel for prototyping user flows etc. We also document as much as we can in a tool called Notion.

We store our design files on GitHub, and we actually have some really cool systems and tools we’ve built around that. Our Sketch files have a particular naming system, our artboards are meticulously named and organised into grids, and we have tools for exporting flows so non-designers can easily see our work. We’ll be sharing our processes and tooling soon, so watch this space!

Also, funny you should ask about the iPad! I just bought one for myself after enviously watching all my illustrator friends switch their workflow over there. The new iPad Pro is a powerful computer, and it can be attached to external displays. It’s no joke. Sketch obviously isn’t available for the iPad yet, but it’s a great tool for illustration. I do think we’ll see more professional design tools for the iPad soon. I can’t wait.


I’m Finnish, and I’m a big fan of our very own Alvar Aalto. I think I’d love to have one of the famous Aalto lounge chairs for relaxing and reading in style. The tank chair, or maybe the Paimio.


Hmm :thinking: … gotta say Instagram. Their attention to detail is unparalleled. I’ll share a few examples: when watching a video and adjusting the volume :sound:, the indicator bar sits at the top of the screen, not covering the video like the clunky iOS system one. Also, on the tab bar if you hold the search :mag_right: icon, it’ll open the tab with the search field already active and the keyboard up. I love that. Instagram is also just a very fun app to use. I’d say that even though they lifted the stories concept from Snapchat, they’ve perfected it. It’s a really fluid experience :sparkles: