In 2015 TransferWise launched in the USA. Soon after, we opened up an office in Tampa, Florida where a team of revolutionaries help our US customers move their money around the world.
Every month, members of the TransferWise team from our other offices in London, Tallinn and NYC visit the Tampa office. One such visitor was Irma, from our Tallinn office. She spent time getting to know the Tampa team - and decided to put together a blog of her time at the Florida office.
The pictures and words she created were so thoughtful and honest that we couldn't resist sharing it publicly. Shot in the style of the amazing 'Humans of New York' - meet the TransferWise Tampa team, in their own words (and those of Irma, of course).
Florida is called the 'Sunshine State' for a reason. The rhythm of Tampa is calm and hot. It takes about 4 minutes to get grilled if you step outside. There’s a pond behind the TransferWise office that can be overlooked from the balcony. Long distances separate locations and people get around by car.
The building where the Social Security Numbers are issued is just next door and brings a cool crowd on the parking lot. People are chilling on the sidewalks, having a cigarette, looking to get it started in the land of free, the USA, the American Dream. It’s the real life, this is how stuff is. It’s not a sterilized performance set up for the tourists.
Our office is on a single floor - customer support at the back, verification in the middle and the operations team at the other end. The kitchen doesn’t have a dishwasher (yet!) so you’ve got to trust your colleagues' coffee cup washing skills. It feels way more like a community than any other office.
I wanted to write this blog to bring the experience back home. I tried to capture as many people as I could. The images are accompanied by either snippets of our conversations, straight up quotes, descriptions of how I felt around them, and about them, and anything random that just sounds right. I also tried to capture a lot of the surroundings to give an idea of the atmosphere.
Humans of Tampa
Jessa has a hyper dog who runs around and barks. She yells "NO...NO!" and the dog doesn't listen. It's so funny. She looks a lot like Sarah Jessica Parker. It feels like talking to a celebrity.
What I like about Jessa is that you won't know anything about her before she tells you about the crazy stuff she's been up to.
I was humming "Whip my hair" by Willow Smith and Tishonna said: "Oh my God, don't sing that song. It will get stuck in my head forever. The last time I heard that song I was on a tiny fishing boat with my brother.
He was drinking beer and needed to take a leak so he stood up on the top of the boat, started rocking it while singing "I whip my hair back and forth" and then fell in the lake."
"I liked living in New York as a child, in Brooklyn, it was amazing. Each side of the streets were made up of every different ethnicity you can imagine.
My block had the Jews and the Italians on one side, the other side of the street were the Irish Catholics and the Germans. Next block over were the Polish people and French people. I remember as we played stick ball in the street always, we'd smell all of the wondrous foods being prepared by the many stay at home moms working in their respective kitchens. The smell permeated throughout the neighborhoods. At around 4:30pm the first mother would yell from their window ’Dinner time’ and the chain reaction began from house to house of kids being called home for their supper.
I remember in the hot Summer months we would open up the fire hydrants and run under the cold water coming out to cool off. After the brutal winter storm of 1977, my parents packed all of us children up and in the middle of the night drove from New York all the way south to Florida. I remembered waking up and seeing a palm tree for the first time and wondering where the hell am I with such strange plants and trees."
If you force Matt to do the Tennessee accent, he'll say 'How have you'all been doin?'.
"Hey, where are you guys going to?" "We're going to pick up food for the meeting."
What can I say about Leah.
She told me a story about her previous job. She said she worked there for 10 years and it was a retail position. Basically, one day the place went bankrupt and everybody was just straight up fired. None of the vacations were paid out, no thank you's, sorry's, nothing. You put 10 years of work into something and that’s that.
But she’s here now, working her butt off as a TransferWise team lead in Tampa. It makes me happy to know I can tell her future to the extent that I know the history won’t repeat itself.
"Awesome!! I'm wearing my panda slippers today" [---] "I was picky about men in my twenties... so I picked a lot"
We had a kitchen conversation with Charita about whether she’s going to get her house decorated for Christmas or not. But obviously she was gonna do that because she has children, which shifts the center of the question from 'if' to 'when'.
Yasmine is just straight up one of my favorite people in the world. I like that she’s blasting music on the maximum volume when driving. This is exactly what I’m planning to do once I get my licence.
Our one and only Louise, our Tampa manager in her new habitat having moved from our Tallinn office.
Ricky is hilarious, not because he would intentionally joke around all the time but because he’s just really genuine. He responded with "true" whenever I said anything. Once I walked past his table and he went "Yoo, do you like horses?" "I guess" "There’s a sick race going on right now" and showed me a window of a horse race that he had open in another tab.
I didn't get many chances to learn who Meredith was, but I felt that if she was in Transformers, she would transform into this particular car that she owns. "Where did you get it from?" "Off the Craigslist."
"I used to be a teacher." "Yeah? Why did you quit?" "I wrote down a list of reasons." Another fantastic piece of information I learned while talking with Max is that every time when they learned about evolution, some kids just magically disappeared from school for a week.
I was grilling Paul next to that wall. It was so hot that day. I had this vision in my head of what I wanted to achieve with this photo aesthetically and I’m not sure what it was anymore. But Paul waited the whole time very politely.
I feel that this image tells a lot more about Stephen than I ever could. Still, to narrate it using his own words: "The red Jeep in the background is mine."
"Can we take a photo in my car?"
He told me he got this car, because it only goes ’so’ fast. So regardless of how adventurous he feels, it just won’t go any faster. By the way, Sean’s such a nice person I don’t know how to put it into words.
Apart from working in TransferWise, Erin works at a surgery over the weekends and also attends school full time. With this much to do, a shirt like that is justified.
Our Tampa team are an awesome bunch - and so are our teams in London, Tallinn, New York and Cherkasy. Want to join us? We're hiring in all of the above locations - find out more here.