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bunq: transferring its unique culture to Sofia (Interview)

We’re here to break free from the status quo and create the bank with you in mind. Giving you the freedom to live life on your terms,” states bunq’s mission statement.

Back in 2012, Ali Niknam set out to radically change the traditional banking industry and create the bank of The free. The company he founded – bunq – become a fully-fledged bank by obtaining a license from the Dutch Central Bank (DNB) in 2014. Since then, bunq’s team has been making life easier for its users across 30 European countries.

The company has also expanded its operations (HQ in the Netherlands) and set up an office in Bulgaria and we’re incredibly happy to have them in the Campus X community.  Today we speak with bunq’s HR Business Partner Kristiana Hadjilarska, who tells us more about their mission and why they chose Bulgaria.

1. What’s bunq’s mission? What problems do you solve for your clients?

Since the launch in 2012, we've been conquering the world of banking and building a product that breaks so many world-firsts, we've lost count. Freedom of choice lies at the core of what we do. And our mission is to give it to our users. How we do it? Traditional banks invest deposits with the intention of profiting off those investments. The problem is that historically consumers have had little to no visibility into where their funds end up and what they are used for.

We came up with a simple and transparent solution. When someone opens an account with bunq, they are presented with a list of different investments to choose from as well as the option to not invest in any of them. The choices include green companies that have been Arista certified for their sustainable credentials. There are also other options like personal lending and mortgages. Last but not least, we make a point to educate our community about each investment option through an information button in the app.

2. Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at the company. What do you love the most at your job? What were some of the biggest challenges you had faced?

I joined bunq as an HR & Recruitment Officer in early March, though it feels like we have already achieved so many things in this short time frame. 

I’m responsible for transferring the bunq culture in Sofia and setting up efficient processes. The most exciting part about working at bunq is that everyone here has ownership and sees their direct contribution. The biggest challenges we have faced as a growing team is scaling up and keeping the team spirit high during the lockdown. 

For example, we had to continue hiring but also ensure the safety of our team. Campus X equipped the entire building with top-notch UVC lamps and the highest-class of air purifiers. The on-site PCR pool testing also ensured peace of mind and allowed us to continue our operations (Learn more here).

Finally, the weekly virtual meetups and sharing tips and tricks on how to work from home definitely kept the team together and energized.

3. Tell us about bunq’s team and company culture. What are some of your key differentiators?

At bunq, we celebrate all walks of life. Across our 180 bunqers, we have 44 nationalities and an age range from 18-60 years. We’re a work hard, play harder kind of place. As a bank, abide by lots of rules and regulations, but as an IT company, we’re hell-bent on bringing the latest financial technology to your device. 

We’re focused on the end-user. At bunq, we want to make banking easy. Traditional banks have spent too long messing around with our finances, we’re here to give the power back to the people.

4. Why did you decide to expand your business to Bulgaria? How did it happen in practice?

When we were seeking to expand our operations to another country, we looked internally and externally to find a place where the culture was just as fun and friendly. It took us time. Then, we found what we were looking for.

Bulgaria has the needed talent in terms of language and IT skills, as well as the right mindset that matches our values of getting shit done.

5. Why did you join Campus X? What were the top reasons you selected us? 

Campus X really gave us the flexibility we are looking for in terms of more than an office space but also a community and services that enabled us to set up our first international office but also grow and scale-up fast!

Also, we had the opportunity to move to a bigger and better office so our team can enjoy the wonderful view of the Vitosha mountain.

In a nutshell, Campus X has been helping us transfer our bunq culture into a vibrant integrated ecosystem and provided us the needed solutions prior to seeing the roadblocks to our operations.

6. What’s next for bunq?

With the launch of bunq V3, the future is bright. We’re a bank that’s focused on creating a better world. We are planting 1000s of trees daily as a result of our SuperGreen users and Common goals help our users crowdfund money for a large range of charitable reasons. Our team is continuously growing so we can provide the best banking experience to our users. If you’re a user of bunq, tell us what you think is next for us. We want your feedback, ideas, and dreams to help push bunq into its next stage.

Want to become a member of Sofia’s biggest end-to-end ecosystem? Rent a premium office space and join the Campus X community now.


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