TransferWise Mission Days

Nicholas Lembo
27.03.19
6 minute read

At TransferWise our mission is money without borders - instant, convenient, transparent and eventually free. Whether you’re sending money to another country, spending money abroad, or making and receiving international business payments, TransferWise is on a mission to make your life easier and save you money.

Twice a year we get together as a company to review our progress on achieving our mission at an event we call Mission Days. This year we’re starting to share more of this discussion and progress from Mission Days with you, our customers. This post gives you some background as to why.

How we’ve talked about the mission so far

As a customer, you may have noticed that our price has been changing in many markets around the world. On average, it’s been steadily dropping.

Every quarter, Kristo - our co-founder and CEO - gives an update on how we’re doing on our mission. These quarterly updates show what improvements we’re making in our price, speed, convenience, and transparency for our customers. We put efforts towards these topics as these are the core parts of our mission and most important to our community of customers.

If you’re a customer you may get some of this news to your email. Maybe you are excited about hearing what’s next from us on price? Or maybe you’ve been disappointed with our progress? Or you maybe you care more about how we’re helping drive forward transparency around the world?

Whichever area of progress interests you, it’s all related to our mission of money without borders.

Some history on how we think about our mission

As mentioned above, we host something we call Mission Days twice a year. One of the reasons Mission Days exists is to align our team on the importance of our mission and provide updates on how we’re making progress on price, speed, convenience and transparency.

It also gives our customers a chance to engage with our team, give us feedback, and help us make sure we’re working on the right things for all 5 million of you.

When Mission Days started in March 2017, it was focused on bringing the 300 TransferWise staff at that time together (we’re now more than 1500!) to reflect on our progress in making money move faster, cheaper, and more easily. We learned a lot from the early iterations of Mission Days.

Initially the event was spread over two days with over 8 hours of content.It was a lot to talk about! The whole team from our London and Tallinn offices gathered to talk about our core product pillars - price, speed, and convenience - and also covered topics like brand awareness and growth and employee engagement.

This first Mission Days evolved (somewhat) organically from earlier quarterly planning sessions. Planning sessions used to involve teams sharing what they were working on in front of the whole company. But once we got to a certain size, team-wide planning was not scaling. People had too little time to share too much information about what dozens of people had done over a whole quarter. Information was not flowing.

The first Mission Days was the result of a few TransferWise team members thinking about how to best bring our team together to reflect on and discuss the mission. It was an attempt to give teams the ability to present and debate plans for the next quarter or two, while also thinking long-term about how we make progress on our mission for customers.

kristo-mission-days-march-2017
Caption: Kristo kicking off the first Mission Days in March 2017 in our London office.

Bringing mission to as many people as possible.

As TransferWise has grown, so has Mission Days. We’ve gone from a few hundred people in two offices to gathering 1500 people twice a year (once in June all together in Tallinn, Estonia; and once remotely from 4 of our regional offices - Tampa, Tallinn, Budapest, and Singapore).

We still discuss big ideas and challenge each other with tough questions. We still reflect on how we’re growing as a team and consider the progress we’ve made on our mission (and how we can go faster). Most importantly, what we talk about is still guided by the impact that our work has for our 5 million customers around the world and how we’re making progress on our mission.

So, what does a full day of this actually look like? The agenda is made up of sessions on price, speed, transparency, and convenience. Teams from all parts of the business present how they have made meaningful progress on these mission pillars (and where we haven’t). We hear from our fellow team members who have insights and ideas about some of the topics that naturally come with working at a high-growth technology company.

It’s an open, honest dialogue about what we’re doing well, what we can do better, as well as topics that are front of mind for many people in the business.

Some of the talks from our last Mission Days looked at:

  • How to communicate effectively across teams and offices
  • How autonomous teams remain agile
  • How we bring our experience building products for individuals to our business and enterprise customers
  • How we price our products sustainably (and what that means for our customers)

It’s a full day of content from our colleagues that allows us to recognise where we are making progress and openly discuss where we are not. It keeps us in check and holds us accountable.

Making transparency core to what we do

A lot of the topics we cover are usually things that are kept strictly confidential in a company - especially things like how and why we price our products the way we do, our plans to launch a new product feature, financial projections and growth forecasts, and how we set up our teams.

Transparency is a core part of our mission and so we try to maintain transparency in our culture too. That’s why we discuss these topics with all 1500 people - even if it doesn’t feel directly related to what they do at work every day.

We also aim to stay transparent with our customers - not just on the price of our products or speed of your transfer - but also on where we are going as a company and how we plan to get there.

Mission Days hasn’t always involved customers. But a few years ago we got feedback that if we really wanted to be transparent with our customers, they should be with us for one of our most important events of the year.

We took that on board and started inviting customers to be a part of the day. First, it was to hear from them about what was good and not so good at TransferWise. Now they spend the whole day with us and have a real connection to our TransferWise community.

Why we want you at Mission Days

It began with a handful of people coming for one panel talk and now almost every session throughout the day (in February year we had 9 sessions, with over 30 Wisers from all across the company speaking) had customers involved.

And it’s not just to tell us we’re doing a good job. Yes, many of our customers are happy and we work hard to keep it that way, but we also need feedback from customers on where we let them down. Hearing that perspective is now a crucial part of Mission Days and inspires our teams for the year ahead. Keeping customers engaged in our team also helps us understand the best ways we can make progress on our mission for them.

nilan-tweet-mission-days-2019

The next TransferWise Mission Days is coming up soon in June in Tallinn, Estonia. If you’re a TransferWise customer and have feedback for us (good or bad!), then let us know on Twitter.

If you can’t make it or aren’t based in Europe, we still want to bring more of our customers into the experience of TransferWise Mission Days. So we’re going to start streaming the content at the next one! Keep an eye out on our social media channels - we’ll be sharing details soon of how you can watch in June.

Onwards.

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

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