A team that laughs together works well together

by Jobbatical April 12, 2017

The story of the friendliest player in the FinTech space

Founded by Estonian entrepreneurs in 2010, Friendly Finance is a microfinancing company operating in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain, Georgia, and Argentina. With 300 employees in different locations and an ambitious plan to open at least three or four new markets each year, the company isn’t wasting any time on thinking small.

Now hiring on Jobbatical for Wisemedia, the group’s IT department, Friendly Finance is all about trust, friendship, and a fair amount of laughter when it comes to inspiring their global teams. We asked Kärt Ala, Friendly Finance’s Estonia-based HR Manager, and Piret Luts, their Recruiter/Sourcer, what it takes to keep the right people on your team.

The team enjoying a relaxing sea voyage. Photo courtesy of Friendly Finance

Be friendly, hire wisely

Established in the small Estonian city of Tartu — a riverside university town that prides itself on its relaxed yet innovative atmosphere — Wisemedia supports the success of its mother company by offering services ranging from basic workstation setup to developing modern and convenient FinTech solutions. It’s this department that now needs some fresh tech firepower to keep up with the growth of the company.

“At the moment we’re concentrating mainly on Ruby developers in different locations,” says Kärt. With opportunities to join them in Estonia, Czechia, Poland, and Georgia, Wisemedia is offering a broad selection of potential destinations. “Georgia is a fascinating country,” Kärt enthuses. “It’s really growing, and it’s beautiful! The people are hospitable, and the food is especially good. So it’s definitely an interesting relocation destination.”

Wisemedia’s appeal as an employer, however, extends beyond the attractive locations. Living up to its name, the Friendly Finance Group has built up a reputation as a caring employer. “They always say that we’re really friendly people,” says Kärt. “And we believe it too!” A job at Wisemedia is not just a job, she explains.

“You’re not just coming to do the job because you need money. It’s about the team.”

“I think the biggest motivation for our developers is that their ideas count,” says Kärt. “Before we do anything, we discuss projects with them. They are part of our business, not just code writers.”

Whether they’re junior coders or experienced tech mavens, Wisemedia’s developers know they can grow with the company. “Our coders need to adjust a lot, and they have to keep up with the growth,” Kärt says. “But the main thing is, they’re never bored. They have the opportunity to develop themselves and be a part of a really great team.” Learning from other team members is a given. “Even if you don’t have the skills yet, you have to let it go — ask and learn from the top specialist in our office,” Kärt says, stressing the importance of knowledge sharing. “There is no bad question, no stupid question, because you want to learn.”

Developers at Wisemedia know they’re always encouraged to expand their knowledge. “Of course, with all the technology that we use, we try to be really innovative and we don’t use old technologies,” Kärt says.

According to Kärt, the main element to building and maintaining a team that functions so well is trust. “From a management point of view, you have to trust your people to do their job and not micromanage them. And even if they fail at some tasks, you trust that they will learn from them. Because as you grow, you can’t be involved every step of the way. The trust starts from recruitment. You recruit the right people with the company culture, with the DNA, with values that match your team and the company. And then you can build up the trust in a deeper sense.”

A team that laughs together…

Building the trust can take on many forms when it comes to global teams in particular. “Relocation can be a really intimidating thing if you haven’t done it before,” Kärt says. “I have learned from experience that I have to send as much information as I can about the destination country; the culture, the weather, the people. I sent tons of links about the weather situation — lots of information. When we made a hire from India, they already had a really, really, good understanding of what they could expect in Estonia. No matter where you are relocating people to, they have to understand the country they are entering.”

From then on, it’s a matter of offering the right amount of support. “We do the best we can, but we’re not holding hands all night and day,” Kärt explains. “Of course we will help with all the paperwork and finding a place to live. And taking them to the pub with us — definitely. We do the best we can, but we expect the person to try as much as possible to fit in. It comes with time. So just be yourself and don’t worry!”

In addition to the usual team-building tricks — parties, board games, adorable office dogs — simply sharing a few good laughs is a massive driving force behind a team that works well together.

Chief Happiness Officer pictured in the middle. Photo courtesy of Friendly Finance.

Kärt bursts out laughing while recounting a miscommunication worthy of a sitcom storyline. “We had a case where one of our team members needed to go to Kazakhstan, so he went to our partners at Flymore and said he needed plane tickets quickly. We realized later that the city he was flying to in Kazakhstan was not the right one — the right one was actually 2,000 kilometers away. We all laughed so hard — you know the feeling when you haven’t worked out for quite some time and you go, and the next day you feel all the muscles that you never knew you had? I had this feeling the next day because we were laughing so hard. It was crazy.”

Staying true to their values and making time to have fun together, Wisemedia has built a fast, flexible, and ambitious company with a talented, energized team. “We believe that the crazier the idea, the better,” Kärt says. Not a group of people to take no for an answer, team Wisemedia knows there’s always a way to reach a goal.

“Our work matters to us. It’s a part of us, and we’re really dedicated.”

Are you looking for a friendly team that will appreciate your skills as well as your personality? Wisemedia is hiring in Estonia, Czechia, Poland, and Georgia!

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