Want to break into the world of fintech? We sat down with Yapstone’s Debra Tenenbaum and Sanjay Saraf to discuss the ideal job applicant, how the fintech landscape has changed in recent years and why the firm chose to set up in Drogheda instead of Dublin.
Yapstone chief people officer Debra Tenenbaum is aware that the firm doesn’t enjoy the brand awareness of its competitors. “We’re kind of a lesser-known name than some of the other fintech players here in Ireland,” she states. Some commentators have even gone so far as to call Yapstone the biggest payments company you’ve never heard of. This is something that it plans to change as it embarks on a recruitment mission to fill up the 16,000 sq ft international headquarters in Drogheda, Co Louth.
The issue that hounds every tech company on a recruitment drive in today’s landscape, however, is the war for tech talent, which seems to have reached fever pitch of late. Tenenbaum, who has been working in the tech industry for more than 20 years, doesn’t see this as a problem. For one, she argues, it’s not a new problem.
“We’ve always had this war for talent,” she maintains, though points out that Yapstone’s decision to set up in Drogheda instead of Dublin goes a long way to protecting the company from vital skill shortages. “There’s a rich community of talent in the Dublin area and outside too. People don’t want to have to commute into Dublin. From a technology perspective, we’ve found very strong folks who have industry experience.” The company has also gone down some of the more typical routes, such as partnering with educational institutions and organisations such as the IDA to help create a stable talent pipeline.
Tenenbaum maintains that seeing recruitment as something isolated to a few nights a month at events is too narrow a perspective, and broadening recruitment efforts is what will help secure talent. Why, she argues, allow a candidate to slip through your fingers just because they can’t immediately make a move?
“We don’t just look as recruitment as a point in time for tech talent; it’s about building relationships, staying connected and then, when the time is right, bringing them back in.”
Yapstone has all the trappings of a modern-minded firm, though Tenenbaum prefers to call it as “stable start-up”. It promises a non-hierarchal and flat organisational structure, recognition for achievements, and ample opportunity to participate in corporate social responsibility schemes.
What the company is looking for in return is what Tenenbaum calls “sophisticated-scrappy”.
“We roll up our sleeves and get things done. We’re community-based; we care about creating a community within the company but also how to give back to the community we work within. We collaborate with each other and we don’t work in silos.
“[We want] people who want to partner, get things done, coalesce around really hard problems and get excited about solving those problems.”
The hard skills for a challenging payments landscape
As Yapstone CTO Sanjay Saraf explains, the modern payments landscape is fraught and complicated. Everyone wants to transact in a way that feels familiar, and yet what is familiar to one is totally foreign to another. Yapstone attempts to cut through the Gordian knot of global transactions with its platform and bring a seamless experience to the end user, belying how complex the process is within.
“The complexity in payments is in how we process a buyer’s transaction, but also how you pay that seller. You have buyers in multiple countries, you have sellers in multiple countries. The buyers in, let’s say, Germany, they don’t use credit cards like customers in the US do, they use Sofort. In some countries people want the money in their bank accounts, and in some countries people want the money in their digital wallets.”
These are heady issues to deal with, hence Tenenbaum’s warning that they need problem-solvers. Beyond the personality element, though, there are a few key skills a prospective candidate will need to possess. The firm processes millions of transactions, and so needs applicants to be well versed in newer databases that have overtaken Oracle and Microsoft, such as NoSQL, which Yapstone is on. It also wants to hear from anyone who understands big-data technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Saraf continues: “We’re looking at Java engineers … Another thing we’re really looking at is people who have built on the cloud, so DevOps is very critical these days.”