In spite of the challenges faced since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Checkout.com has continued its rapid rise over the past year in providing enterprises with cross-border payment solutions for digital commerce. In January of this year, the company raised $450 million in investment to become one of Europe’s most valuable unicorn company.
On top of Checkout.com’s rapid growth, Founder and CEO Guillaume Pousaz has demonstrated exceptional leadership and was named as one of the Top CEOs UK for 2021 in Glassdoor’s Employee Choice Awards. The Glassdoor team caught up with Guillaume to find out more about his approach to leadership during a pandemic, hiring, and diversity and inclusion.
How have you adapted your leadership over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic?
I’m an optimist, so the past year has demonstrated that Checkout.com’s team spirit knows no boundaries and that in every adverse situation there was an opportunity.
I always say that it’s possible to be "both super thorough and super nice, that these 2 traits of characters are not mutually exclusive" and I try to embody that approach every day. As well as being focused on data and setting clear goals, I’ve also tried to lead with compassion, integrity and empathy.
Being forward looking, hopefully we will soon be able to exchange in person in our various offices, nurture relationships, travel and more. As we say in French: "there is always sunshine after the rain".
What initiatives have you introduced to keep employees productive and happy?
We doubled in size in 2020 and will add another 700 people to the organisation by the end of 2021. For me, this means culture is more important than ever before.
Culture is never static, it should organically evolve as we grow. But it is also something that requires focus and investment. Specifically, that means identifying the great things about our culture that it is important for us to preserve as well as being explicit in terms of our expectations of how we want to proactively change. For example, we recently introduced a set of operating principles to help our team members translate our values; #aspire, #excel and #unite, into everyday actions.
We’ve also doubled down on providing our team members with learning and development opportunities, wellbeing initiatives, and remote team-building activities to help everyone stay motivated and happy.
Why do you think employees have reacted so well to your leadership and company direction this year?
We set out to manage the business by treating our employees with respect and dignity. That means being transparent in the decisions we’ve made throughout the last year, for example each month anyone can submit questions for our all employee meetings and I have an “open (virtual) door” for anyone to speak with me about any concerns they have.
We’ve always focused on building a strong business that has continued to grow and remain profitable. This has meant we haven’t had to furlough any employees and have continued to hire and provide people with development opportunities. We’ve also recognised however that many of our colleagues have needed to care for family, home school and juggle other commitments and so we’ve tried to be flexible in accommodating these throughout extraordinary times.
Our values sit at the heart of everything that we do, and our freshly launched operating principles will help our people understand even better how to apply those values to their work, every day. It’s humbling for colleagues to validate this approach, as we continue to invest in this values-based approach and enter the next phase of growth for our company.
What has been the biggest challenge for you and your senior leadership team?
Adapting to an entirely new way of working whilst doubling in size naturally has brought its challenges but I’ve been incredibly impressed with the adaptability the team has continued to demonstrate and want to thank my leadership team who have worked intensely this year to drive the business forward.
Our first operating principle is “Solve for the customer” and this remains our biggest challenge. We want to build the best possible product for our merchants to meet their growing needs and to continue innovating alongside them. This means we need to hire brilliant people and empower them to work well together and it is something we continue to focus on every single day.
How do you tackle diversity and inclusion at work? Is this a big reason why people join and stay at the company?
We celebrate diversity and welcome the variety of experiences our people bring to Checkout.com. We create success together and know that our differences make us stronger. We proactively seek talent from different backgrounds and aim to reduce bias during the hiring process. We also endeavour to provide flexible, functional and accessible working spaces that are suitable for all and equal training and development opportunities for all our team members.
Part of the strength of the company comes from our internal communities which are employee-led and company-sponsored groups that help to bring our global team together based on shared backgrounds, beliefs, identities and interests. Creating spaces for all of our people to connect, and find a sense of belonging is important for us as individuals and as an organisation.
What is your top tip for anyone interviewing for a job right now?
In our recruitment process we try to keep things as simple as possible to get to what’s important – finding out more about the candidates. Here’s three pieces of advice for those interested in joining us.
Our business was built on big ideas. I am a firm believer in Einstein’s philosophy that “imagination is more important than knowledge”. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries and think big when sharing your thoughts with us.
We also want to see your passion in action. Anything that shows us more about why you love what you do, we want to see it.
Finally, curiosity is crucial - please ask us any questions at any stage of the process, including the final one.
Is Checkout.com hiring right now, and if so for what type of roles? What type of people are you looking for?
I frequently write that we are still in Chapter Zero and right at the very start of our story. I am determined to build a generation-defying company and that requires world-class talent to join us on the journey!
We take a values-led approach when it comes to hiring, so if you think you connect with our mission and what we stand for, then we’d love to hear from you.