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A global brand, a startup culture, a social purpose: Here’s what it’s like to work at Western Union

Western Union is a rare blend - a diverse global company with a social purpose and the ideas-led culture of a startup. The company values diversity and is proud of its business's social impact in some of its key marketplaces. Here, two of its senior leaders in product and pricing talk about how they build their teams what they look for in the hiring process, and why a financial services company with such a unique culture appeals to candidates.

“My purpose is elevating my community”

Everyone at Western Union is united under the same goal – helping people prosper. This passion for uplifting aspiring populations usually comes from their background. The cornerstone of Western Union’s business is international money transfers, with its main customer base in emerging markets where remittances are sent from the diaspora working overseas. According to the World Bank, remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries could hit $656bn this year, so it’s a significant part of the financial services sector.

Patria Cabral is Western Union’s Head of Product, leading a team responsible for ensuring all products and services align with the overall business strategy. She feels a close link to the company’s services because of her heritage and is happy that she can promote financial inclusion through her work.

“I’m Latina, I’m a first-generation immigrant that went to college, and Western Union really aligns with my purpose of elevating my community,” she said. “I understand the value of building inclusive financial products for the aspiring population. We help our customers to support their loved ones and maintain that emotional connection with people in the countries they have left.”

Finding a role that can create this type of social change outside of a nonprofit organization or government is unusual. This makes Western Union special and a rare breed in financial services.

A business in transformation

Regulation and compliance are paramount in a financial services organization that operates in over 150 markets. Yet, Western Union is able to balance that with a high-growth, transformational environment with plenty of scope for advancement.

The company culture has an exciting, startup feel thanks in part to its current push to transform its business.

“We are a lot more entrepreneurial, a lot more growth-focused, than your average $5bn publicly-traded company,” said Rich Fox, Western Union’s Global Head of Pricing. “It's rare that you see a Fortune 500-style high pace of growth and transformation along with social impact. That is a pretty unique combination.”

Fox hopes this mix will attract candidates who are up for the challenge of reimagining everything and are excited to explore ideas in pursuit of what’s next. 

“Do you have a vision for doing things differently, challenging the status quo, and really having an ownership mindset?” he said. “We want people with new and innovative ideas about how to make the business better.”

Who is the ideal Western Union Candidate?

In Fox’s pricing team at Western Union, hiring managers might look for good analytical skills and candidates who can easily handle financial data. To get ahead, you’ll need a resume that includes industry-level consulting experience, a dynamic approach to problem-solving, and a background in sales or marketing with some understanding of the commercial side of business around revenue and profits.

In Cabral’s product team, good fit candidates will be those with a product-centric skill set, a technical background, and critical thinking skills. Ideally, they would also have experience in the payments or remittance space, but demonstrable passion for the role is perhaps more important. Emotional intelligence to build customer empathy is also on Cabral’s list.

“If I see a good candidate that has the right skill set in terms of technology, and number of years in product function, but doesn’t have the finance or remittance experience, I focus on their EQ,” she said. “That means their ability to empathize and to develop products for a customer that does not look like them.”

You’ll need to be flexible, too, as most jobs at Western Union aren’t 9 to 5. It’s a global business, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself on a 10 PM call with the Dubai office now and then. You can also expect flexibility from the company side – think hybrid working and flexible hours so you can maintain a work/life balance.

What’s the interview process?

Typically, there are several rounds of interviews for each post. Interviews focus on two basic questions:

  • Are you a good fit for the team and company?
  • Do you have the intrinsic skill set to do the job that is asked of you?

During the hiring process, candidates can expect face-to-face conversations with the person who would be their direct manager, a peer on their team, and a customer or stakeholder outside of the team they would be working with regularly, explains Fox. There are also interviews with HR and a skills test. With five or six interviews, it’s a thorough process but can be as valuable for candidates as it is for the company to determine if someone will flourish in the role.

On Cabral’s team, candidates will usually be given a problem to solve, although they can see the requirements beforehand and have time to prepare. “I want to know if you can understand the problem statement and come up with creative technical solutions for it that deliver value to the business and consumers,” said Cabral. Her aim is for candidates to outline their ideas clearly while explaining the reasoning behind them, so communication skills are vital here.

Western Union is a global company and a diverse one. Just as its business ethos is around financial inclusion, its hiring policies are inclusive too. “It’s important for us to hire diverse teams because our customers are diverse,” explained Cabral. “They want to feel that they are interacting with a company that understands them, and that builds trust. If we hire an employee base that mirrors our customers, that helps a lot.”

Explore opportunities with Western Union. 

 

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