October 07, 2019 — 4 min read
My journey to lead a team at WeGift / Career Progression
Camille Desprez
Marketing

My name is Sara and I’m the Financial Controller at WeGift.
Prior to joining WeGift less than two years ago, I worked in the tax industry and as a Management Accountant for a manufacturing company in the United States. Whilst working in the US, I became a qualified accountant and soon thereafter realised the slow pace of a large corporate business was not for me. That’s when I decided to take the leap across the pond to a country I had never even been and pursue a Masters degree in Finance and Accounting! 

Shortly after completing my degree, I learned about WeGift and the great opportunity they had for a Finance Manager. At that point, WeGift was extremely new in the market but had already built a product that was being adopted quickly.
Behind the hypergrowth, WeGift had an extremely complex finance operation but had no in-house finance team and no financial infrastructure in place. From my point of view, it sounded like a great opportunity for me to organise, build and execute a finance function from scratch. 

It didn’t take long for me to realise that the WeGift team is the driving force for both the company’s success and my own. From day one, the team was welcoming, friendly and supportive. Looking back, the company values we have defined today (big hearts, sharp minds, fierce drive, curious souls and true spirits) were apparent even then. Throughout my time at WeGift, I have experienced a truly collaborative and open environment in which everyone at all levels is given the freedom to act autonomously and the opportunity to make a huge impact on the business. 

The reason the employees are effectively able to contribute to the company’s goals is that management is supportive, flexible and trusting. The company invests in your growth and success through training, mentoring and coaching. I had a lot of guidance and help from the CEO directly, and today I’m lucky enough to have two separate coaches to help me realise my potential. When life throws up surprises (in my case needing to work from a different country for an extended period of time), the company will do all it can to support you. Most importantly, they trust you to make decisions that will have a positive impact on the business, which is not a standard in most businesses.

After one year of being the sole finance person, WeGift had grown tremendously and whilst we had built a lot of automation in the finance function, I was beyond capacity. We could see the pace of growth continuing to increase. That is when the CEO, and I agreed an additional finance person was needed. We hired deliberately, it was a long arduous process. We really took care to ensure cultural with our team and technical fit with our business. Fast forward another nine months and I’m proud that we’ve now built a young and vibrant team of absolute superstars! During that my role shifted towards overseeing the entire finance department and received a promotion to Financial Controller.

Learnings

Throughout my time at WeGift, I’ve learned what it takes to work in a start-up. You need to be driven, forward-thinking, a team-player and dedicated to achieving the company’s goals. It’s crucial to learn how to transition from a scrappy start-up, to a process driven scale-up, whilst staying lean and focussed. It’s been a challenging, but rewarding experience working at WeGift. I’m looking forward to being a part of the continuing growth and new challenges WeGift will face as we continue to scale we continue to build a world where everyone can participate in the global economy without banks, barriers borders or boundaries!

Advice for new joiners

When you join the WeGift team, try to get ingrained into what we do, why we do it and how we do it. Ask a lot of questions, read through our OS handbook, play around with our products. Having a deep understanding of these things will allow you to understand the entire business model and how you can make an impact on achieving our purpose, mission and vision.