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At Starling, we hire for aptitude and attitude rather than specific experience or qualifications. We encourage our people to try new things and experiment, creating a culture of innovation which differentiates us from others. The work we do here is shaping the future.

“We look for people who share our values of transparency, inclusiveness and exceptional customer service. Career development is all about learning new skills, but the most important thing is that you share the beliefs of the company you work for,” says Marc Douch, Recruitment Manager at Starling.

Here, we find out more about launching a career or beginning a new career chapter as part of Team Starling. Everyone we spoke to found their way into fintech from a degree, job or set of experiences that weren’t directly connected to finance or technology. Yet they all believed in Starling’s mission: making money management better for customers.

Be curious

“Very few people actually have a career that’s written and traced from when they were 16,” says Prita Das, a Project Manager at Starling. “It’s normal. I fell into tech and I loved it. I found it fascinating.”

Between her third and fourth year of studying French and Classics, Prita spent a year in Paris as an intern at Apple. After graduating, she moved to London and began working in Communications and Marketing. “It really wasn’t for me,” she says. “I wanted to be on the product side of things and I didn’t feel challenged. It takes guts to fess up and say that it’s not for you. But if your circumstances allow it, resigning from a job could give you the time and space you need to find out what else is out there.”

After handing in her notice, she began to apply for roles in France. While job hunting, she fell back on the savings she’d built up, cut back on spending and was able to live with her parents. She also spent time volunteering for The Prince’s Trust. Nine months later, she found what she’d been looking for: fintech. “When you do an arts degree that’s not intrinsically linked to a career, it can be daunting at first and it’s easy to be pushed into doing a law conversion, or to go into banking or consulting. But it’s important not to write off technology,” she says. “If you’re curious and interested in learning, you could definitely have a career in tech.”

Working on a product in-house vs working with clients is also an important factor. “What I like about being in-house is being at the crux of the subject. You’re not airlifted out of a project before seeing how things are implemented, you’re able to see the bigger picture.” Prita, 28, joined Starling in August 2019 and has since worked on the launch of the online banking portal, among many other projects. Previously, she worked for the French payment app Lydia. Between jobs, she spent seven months travelling in the US and South America. Few people leave jobs without knowing what they’re going to do next but for Prita, it enabled her to build up more skills while being able to job hunt productively.

Prita and Gareth smile
Prita Das and Gareth Towler

Look at the products you love to find your career path

Gareth Towler also travelled to South America before joining Starling. He was a Starling customer before he became an employee. “We needed to be able to get cash out abroad and Starling came out on top,” he says. Starling doesn’t charge customers fees to use their card or withdraw cash overseas. “I had no prior experience in tech but I thought it looked like a good company to work for.” Throughout his biology degree, he worked as a lifeguard. To earn money for his travels, he also had a temporary job in a warehouse.

Gareth, 24, applied to be a customer service agent in August 2018. What attracted him to Starling was not only the product itself but the opportunity for professional development. After learning about Starling and speaking to customers, Gareth became a Technical Subject Matter Expert. “The engineers spot a lot of bugs but some are reported by customers and we needed to relay those back to the engineers and keep track of them,” he explains.

What has been a dramatic shift is his move into working on the Marketplace, the space in the app where customers can access third-party products such as insurance, online investment platforms and pensions.

“It’s been a pretty steep learning curve,” he says. He’s not an engineer himself but has built up this technical knowledge through his experience in customer service and asking lots of questions to the engineers who work alongside him. Gareth now helps source new partners and advise them on how to build into Starling’s open API.

Don’t count yourself out before you’ve tried

Gareth was initially hired into customer service by Ewan Mood, along with a group of several hundred others. We’re not exaggerating. Ewan, 30, began recruiting for Starling customer service in May 2018. The team now hires an average of about 50 people per month (at the date of publication).

Ewan joined Starling as a customer service team member in July 2017, just two months after the app launched. “As a young professional in London, I wasn’t able to afford much so I was glad of fintech’s arrival because of the control it gave me over my finances,” he says. “I became obsessed with fintech and I really wanted to be a part of it.”

Before Starling, he worked for a talent agency which sourced and arranged work for many Oscar winning actors. And before that, he studied Biology with a focus on Zoology. The link is Edinburgh, where he studied and produced a show for the Fringe Festival. In fact, Ewan has always had a strong musical streak. He played the flute while at school and performed in lots of musical theatre throughout school and university.

“Always take the opportunity if you can,” he says, advice that applies to both our personal and professional lives. If you have the opportunity… go for it... don’t count yourself out...” Last year, he joined a contemporary voices choir in London.

At Starling, he now manages recruitment for all Operations roles across London, Southampton and Cardiff. He is also involved in organising events and meetups with the Always Open forum and #bendthebank LGBTQ+ community.

Harriet and Ewan smile
Harriet Rees and Ewan Mood

Step out of your comfort zone

Harriet Rees joined Starling after she heard a BBC Wales radio interview with our founder Anne Boden. “Anne was talking about how she was often the only woman in a room or the only person with a Welsh accent. It really resonated with me,” says Harriet, 30, who grew up in Caerphilly in South Wales.

“I wrote Anne an email and explained that I was a Welsh woman working in Finance and Data looking for my next challenge. Within ten minutes of sending the email on a Sunday, she’d replied. By Wednesday, I’d had an interview and by the end of the week I had a job offer.” She joined Starling as Head of Data Science in April 2018. Previously, she studied maths and trained to be an actuary with a multinational finance company in Paris.

“On day one of Starling, you have to come with an open mind - it’s very likely that it will be like no place you’ve ever worked before. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even ones that might seem silly because those are the ones that no one thought to ask and therefore no one had answers for. And be brave with your ideas. The whole concept of Starling and the challenger bank sector couldn’t exist if people weren’t brave with the stances they take and the choices they make for customers.”

When it comes to careers, her advice is to go with what you’re good at and what you enjoy. “My story, if nothing else, is that you can train in very traditional ways and still find yourself at the cutting edge of your field if you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone.”

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