As Head of People at Beacon, writing a blog that states it’s all about the people may seem obvious. But if you look at our company’s core values, from clients first through diversity and inclusion to technical excellence, they really all come down to people. And as a rapidly growing company building and delivering a powerful software platform to the financial services industry, recruiting, developing, and retaining the best people we can has been, and will continue to be, fundamental to our success.

HR as Customer Service

I brought to my job almost 15 years of experience in financial execution and customer service, honed from years working in various trading roles. So I treat my role and responsibilities leading Beacon’s human resources department as a customer service function, with our employees and managers as my customers. But I don’t want HR to be treated like Yelp, where you only go to make complaints about bad service, so we actively encourage positive feedback and reflections about people who have done something to help you. At the same time, we are continually trying to improve and actively solicit and respond to feedback and suggestions. Even during the interview and onboarding process, we ask our people how we could have done better and whether the job is working out as they expected. We also focus on selling our people, encouraging them to put their name on blogs and white papers to promote their ideas and accomplishments, and writing “day in the life” articles that highlight their interests.

Managing Growth

As a high growth company, growing the right way can be very challenging. In the last year our recurring revenue is up 90 percent and headcount up more than 40 percent. So my mission is to set up the HR team for the future and help the company negotiate the scaling risks, including the need to add people internationally to get us to the next level. In addition to hiring we have been turning the HR team from an army of one into a full-fledged department. Adding staff with expertise in recruitment, benefits, and onboarding have made it possible for us to hire 50 people since January, and we have another 35 open positions as of writing this blog. At the same time we must ensure that we develop and retain our best people, continue to improve our diversity and inclusion, and find the right balance between growth and our culture. From interviews through development activities and annual evaluations, we strive to keep the company focused on our core values, asking how their actions best reflect the values. We also want to be aware of our employees’ growth, respecting personal lives and supporting an appropriate work/life balance. So we strive to nurture a sense of belonging, doing fun things as a group and encouraging our people to go out and volunteer in their local community and offer matching gifts for local and global charities.

Post-Pandemic

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Beacon was not a virtual company. As the virus touched the first employees, the executive committee met and quickly decided to close all offices and go 100 percent virtual. We did not want to lose our valuable connections and sense of community, so we worked hard to preserve the company’s culture of trust and sense of family and inclusion. We stepped up communications and are still organizing a range of virtual events and outreach activities to keep our people engaged with each other and especially our new hires. Now that we are starting to return to the office we feel that it is important to be thoughtful and find the best hybrid of home and office work. So we are actively listening to employees, coaching and empowering our managers to understand when and why people need to be in the office. But we also see the benefits of at least some office time, so we are on the lookout for fun and interesting reasons to be together, encouraging social activities as well as work time.

Move Fast, Hire the Best, Don’t Break Things

Beacon’s company culture is sometimes described as a hybrid between an investment bank and a FinTech startup. Our co-founders and many of our employees have deep knowledge and experience in financial services, which we are integrating with the tech attitudes of speed, flexibility, and adaptability. Whether working from home or in the office, we assume positive intent and professional responsibility, and nurture a culture of trust and communication. This allows our people to adjust their days to what suits them best, fitting in their workouts, errands, and appointments as needed. We also encourage everyone to get involved in whatever aspects of the company interest them, playing together in our common sandbox and rewarding success. We know that as we grow, we need to be nimble and accessible enough to quickly adapt and adjust to market changes and our own mistakes, while delivering the security and reliability that our clients demand.