Working in DeFi and the Benefits of a Multinational Team
When I was younger, we were taught to choose a job based on its earning potential, rather than pursuing our “passion” or “purpose”. At the time, investment banking was the career path to take, so I decided to become an investment banker. But even before my career could take off, the global financial crisis happened — everyone started to hate banks and the people that worked for them. It was through this experience that I started to notice the massive disconnect between the banking sector and the average worker they supposedly served.
Innovation was a word often thrown around among colleagues in the industry, but in larger institutions, with its bureaucracy, red tape, and antiquated mindsets, true innovation is hard to actualize. But still I persisted — after a 15-year career in traditional finance (TradFi), I made the move to start my own business, leading me to discover the new world of decentralized finance (DeFi).
Personally, I have always leaned towards the innovative side of things — I’m passionate about finding new, simple, and efficient solutions for problems. I have always been an early adopter, always on the lookout for the newest technology or software that will elevate my everyday experience. The moment I think something is taking too long, the first question I ask myself is, “What is the easiest way to do this?” This line of questioning usually leads me to pretty cool perspectives on age-old problems.
This mindset is what grew my passion for Web 3.0 and DeFi. DeFi is fundamentally changing the way through which people can interact and transact with each other, removing the need for an intermediary — something that has been at the center of TradFi, and is usually the biggest reason why many, particularly those in emerging markets, are turned off by or have been shunned by traditional financial institutions. The existing TradFi infrastructure continues to support a wealth divide, mainly because the profit margin they will earn in serving the traditionally underserved will not be enough to make them interested.
DeFi creates a true avenue through which more people can be in control of how they keep and spend their money, and challenges the old perspectives that traditional finance has instilled in customers. An amazing example of how DeFi is changing the way that we do things is the donation effort that Yield Guild Games Southeast Asia (YGG SEA) had initiated to help the families affected by Typhoon Odette in the southern region of the Philippines. Traditionally, donations would all need to be routed through a bank and a large organization who would then disburse the aid. Because of the red tape in TradFi institutions, this could take days and will require the receiver to go to a bank or remittance center, potentially exposing the receiver to more risks, and missing the critical window of when those affected need aid the most. But because YGG SEA took the DeFi route, with help from the XLD Finance team, they were able to distribute more than US$ 500,000 (just over 25.5 million in the local currency) within minutes: with each dollar going directly into the mobile wallets of the beneficiaries.
Web 3.0 is, by nature, a trustless infrastructure, not even needing to trust the code upon which something is built to know that something will work, and work flawlessly. This makes it interesting when looked at from the lens of office organization and working from home (WFH). Prior to the pandemic, many companies had difficulty in transitioning to a WFH workforce, citing a myriad of excuses for why, with all of them pointing to one culprit: the lack of trust in their own employees. The most common feedback I have received from managers who didn’t want to let their employees work from home is, “But how do you know if they’re actually working?” The pandemic forced multinational companies to allow everyone to work from home, and the answer to the previous question became very clear: employees are actually working at home, and productivity rates became even higher because employees had better control of their work-life balance.
As many companies have shifted to working from home, geographic barriers have been torn down, allowing for more professional opportunities to rise for people in the seldomly-reached corners of the earth, and a previously untapped pool of talent to be discovered. If geography is no longer a relevant factor in hiring, then who do you hire and why?
Let’s take the case of XLD Finance: while the idea and the pioneering team were birthed in the Philippines, we have not limited ourselves to hiring solely in the Philippines. I, along with a few other members of the team, am based in Singapore; some members of our engineering team are in Vietnam and Bangladesh, and we’re currently seeking out more employees in the markets we are about to enter. Because of the shift to WFH, many DeFi enterprises, like ours, as well as many multinational companies now have the option to look for the best talent in any locale. But, we always have to take into consideration the cultural nuances of our business, so it makes sense to build a team that is aware of the markets we want to serve, or are citizens of those markets as well. But beyond that, we are free to hire a diverse intellectual team agnostic to where they live. A team built around the diversity of thought is critical because it provides a broader range of perspectives through which to view a problem and therefore, its potential solutions.
I am of the belief that any great idea will remain only an idea if it’s not supported by a strong and agile team to bring it into existence. For me, this paints a very clear picture of organizations of the future: Web 3.0 projects taking the majority share of new start-ups, with DeFi structures becoming stronger and creating projects and protocols to close the gap between Web 3.0 and the real world, built by teams based from different parts of the world and different backgrounds: bringing unique cultural nuances and perspectives, creating more holistic projects.
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