Building bridges (not walls) at Estonia’s newest bank

by Jobbatical March 31, 2017

Inbank has a unique, product-based strategy. Focusing mostly on retail clients, it offers specialized financial products to clients when and where they want them. And they have a secret (well, maybe not such a secret anymore after this): a Mexican software developer working for them with a totally different perspective — as someone from a country 90 times bigger would. As a bonus, we’ll reveal two go-to places in Tallinn if you’re craving some Mexican food.

Meet David Ochoa Quintana, a Software Developer at Inbank who has worked there for 3,5 years and counting. David finished his studies in Mexico about five years ago and was looking to get some international experience under his belt when a consulting gig in Estonia caught his eye.

David Ochoa Quintana found an excellent job opportunity in Estonia — a country 90 times smaller than his homeland Mexico.

“I didn’t know much about Estonia, but saw there were a lot of opportunities for IT people, so I was like — okay, this sounds interesting — and this country is somewhere completely on the other side of the world!”

What struck David the most was how simply everything worked out after arriving in Estonia. “It is a small, pretty and easy country. Renting an apartment without a broker was quick and easy. In comparison, renting an apartment in Mexico is always a big hassle,” he says.

Open communication is the key: everybody can give ideas and they can be tested right away.

It wasn’t for long after arriving when the consultancy company David worked for merged with Inbank and since then he’s been part of the IT team developing one of the most unconventional banks here — Inbank does not have an ambition to become a traditional universal bank, but rather focus on special product categories like consumer loans and deposits. In addition to Inbank’s own software development, the IT team creates fintech solutions for both local and international partners in order to integrate Inbank’s services into theirs.

“Our IT team has a really good attitude, we’re not just colleagues, more like friends,” David says. “There’s no hierarchy, we are always open about problems and when we need to get something done, there are no overly complicated processes for that — we discuss things with everybody on the team. Everybody can give ideas and we can test them right away.”

He says being flexible and continuously improving is vital for a company that is trying to think out of the box. “Everyone on the team is really talented and feels comfortable working with others because they appreciate to be constantly learning, not being static or just doing their thing. Everybody has different eyes and brings their vision to the table.”

The different visions are also ensured by the fact that the team is international — in addition to David, there’s Polish, Hungarian and, of course, Estonian talent.

Banking made simple

“We are not as corporate as your usual bank, we’re more flexible. Our mission is to make banking simple for both the customers and ourselves. I do think that working in a smaller country has its advantages — the bigger the country, the bigger the level of bureaucracy. And I should know — I come from Mexico, after all — with 119 million people compared to the 1,3 million here,” David laughs and adds: “As for the company culture, I think it is important that the employees sense you’re trying to make them happy besides just handing them over their salary in the end of the month.”

But also, the desired employee should be someone that is not there only for the salary. “One of the main things that we focus on when looking for new people is the attitude, because some skills can be rough and one can improve their programming, but attitude — I’ve rarely seen people change that,” David stresses.

The good news is that the organization is also flexible regarding the new ways of working and encourages remote working, too.

“Everybody gets a laptop, so that in itself is a promise of flexibility regarding working place. Some of the guys here are doing their Bachelor’s or Master’s, so they just take their laptop, go to university and go home afterwards and continue working from there,” David describes. “Of course you’re required to attend meetings at the office, but we’re okay with remote working on other occasions. We’ve had developers going to Thailand for months and working from there. I myself have done it from Mexico — because you wouldn’t go there for a weekend or even a week; the trip itself takes almost 24 hours. So what I’ve done is go there for Christmas and stay for a month — two weeks of which would be vacation time and the rest of the two I would work from there.”

The people working at Inbank are more friends than colleagues and do fun stuff together frequently.

And that brings us to David’s personal story. Being from a foreign country, the most difficult part is to be away from your family. “I miss my Mom and the Mexican food and especially when the food is being cooked by my Mom,” David says. “But I don’t see myself going back to Mexico anytime soon. I’m really happy here and luckily my parents do come and visit and sometimes we meet up somewhere in Europe.”

And now to the valuable tip section. Has David found any Mexican food in town that qualifies as Mexican food? “I would not qualify this authentic Mexican food, it’s more of a tempered down version one could find in the US. But, there are two places right now that I do find good — Cerrito Burrito at Solaris center and Bueno Gourmet food-truck in Telliskivi. The last one is more like a Latin mix, but it is still decent.”

Inbank is now hiring in Tallinn — take a look at their openings:

If Inbank’s team sounds like your cup of tea, here’s your chance to find out more about them :

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