Chief People Officer Hannah Soye shares her thoughts on Bink’s unique culture
Hannah Soye, Chief People Officer
Q1: Hannah, how long have you been a part of Bink? What was it that drew you to working here?
I joined just over three years ago. I was working for myself at the time and returning to HR consultancy after having my second daughter, when Mike Jordan contacted me to see if I had ‘a little bit of time’ available to come and work with him and Richard Evetts (then COO). Mike had recently taken over as CEO and Barclays had just announced their partnership with Bink.
It was clear right away that there was a huge People agenda ahead to launch with Barclays. The ‘little bit of time’ soon became an offer to come on board as Bink’s first Chief People Officer and I couldn’t wait to get started – the team was fabulous, I loved going to work for the first time in years and I was excited at the prospect of working with Mike to build out the leadership team and grow the business and People function. Our headcount has increased around 250% since then.
In order to scale effectively, we needed to overhaul all the foundational elements of HR (contracts, systems and processes), upgrade our talent acquisition processes and build a culture and operating model in which people could flourish, so that we could bring in the right people to thrive and complement the founding team.
Q2: Which three adjectives would you use to describe the culture at Bink, and why?
Transparent – corporate spin just doesn’t work here. Being yourself (whoever that self is) is good with us. And what we say is what we mean.
Inclusive – we want to know what people have to say, because end-solutions are always better as a result.
Ground-breaking – people, product, technology.
And at the heart of it all, creating a properly enjoyable and fun community for people to thrive in.
Q3: How have the challenges posed by Covid affected the morale at Bink?
The initial crisis of the pandemic brought us very close as a team. Most people worked hybrid even before Covid, so whilst it was a major blow to suddenly have everyone working from home, it was technically seamless. We immediately took the decision to have company stand-ups twice a week and that continued for many months, in order that we could navigate the pace of change that was going on around us. We had some phenomenal and very touching feedback from people around the support they received and how reassuring the business was during that chaotic time.
As the pandemic progressed, we adapted; we opened the offices early on, to support a small group of people that were facing major challenges working from home, we gradually adjusted our stand-ups, we tried like many to have some virtual socials and so on and eventually, we opened up the offices to more people, responding to the needs of individuals and teams. We also recognised the major challenges people were having to cope with, like home schooling and being stuck indoors, so we started surprising people with Bink Holidays – the gift of time was incredibly well received and became a regular feature which we have continued post lockdown.
We are now, like all businesses, navigating the best way to work in the short-medium term (I’m not sure any of us can quite predict the longer term yet). We see a lot of value in balancing time at home with physical time together as a team – mental wellbeing, team spirit and company culture and continuing to operate as a high performing team and business. We also believe in responding dynamically to the needs of our people at any point in time. Overall, morale is good right now and we are excited for this year.
Q4: Your recent office initiative – Brew Monday – was about connecting people and helping to bolster each other during these unprecedented times. Tell us a bit more about it.
Everyone knows January can be a gloomy month and we just don’t want people to feel that way (or to feel on their own if they are feeling that way). Work can be super-challenging and difficult, but I also believe that it should feel energising and rewarding overall. Most people will tell you that in the end, it’s the people you work with that really make or break it. There is a reason why I am here and love my job three years later!
There is so much to look forward to this year – in and outside of work – and we have to get back to seizing more opportunities to get together, talk and reap all the rewards of that. This week we have a Product and Technology offsite for the whole company, followed by a social evening together, we have games nights planned and will be bringing in regular office brunches, lunches etc. to encourage collaboration. Life is too short not to get together and enjoy it.
We have many more benefits and initiatives to come this year.
Q5: Looking ahead, what do you feel puts Bink into a strong position going forward, and what excites you about the upcoming year?
This year’s commercial plans and growth excite me enormously and the strength of our success both now and in the future, is purely down to our exceptional team. They put us in the best position for success in 2022 and beyond.