We spoke to German Bencci, Founder of Code Your Future. Amongst all of the topics discussed were diversity in the FinTech sector and how you can improve engagement with your team during the crisis by giving them volunteering opportunities.
Hi German, thank you for taking this interview at what is a critical time for everyone. Can we start by asking a bit about your background and who Code Your Future are?
The idea behind CodeYourFuture started brewing during the summer of 2016 when, while working in the tech industry, I was looking for a way to create a positive impact in people’s lives through technology.
In my previous job, I had the chance to travel all around Europe meeting founders of tech companies and he had seen how valuable developers were for organisations of any size and how hard it was to find people with the right skills. At the same time, the European refugee crisis of 2015 had left the UK with a generally negative perception of forcibly displaced people and society was arguing about the dreams and aspirations of people that most in the society had never met.
CodeYourFuture was inspired and guided by the work of other organisations running in other countries that started training refugees in tech skills through volunteer developers and helping them find employment in the industry. The idea was inspirational, so we went to find an equivalent organisation in the UK that was offering a similar program.
We compiled a list of around a hundred NGOs/organisations that worked with asylum seekers and refugees and reached out to all of them. By now, we serve four regions in the UK and expanded to work with people from various disadvantaged backgrounds.
Why do you think Code Your Future is a great solution for FinTech organisations generally, as well as during the current climate?
We believe that our organisation can play an instrumental role in diversifying the workforce of the FinTech industry so that it becomes much more representative of society, in order to serve it better. The lack of diversity among employees in the tech industry is an important issue that can only be tackled by investing in the education of people from various socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds.
Through our company partnership programs, we offer comprehensive volunteering opportunities for employees to utilise their skills and experience in improving people’s lives. It also gives them a chance to belong to a community to meet people from other social circles and learn from other cultures and backgrounds.
As someone who has worked in the tech industry for several years now, what advice would you give to FinTech companies in making sure they are looking after their teams whilst working remotely?
My main recommendation is to ensure you create a warm and relaxing atmosphere while working together. Ensure that long calls start with an energiser and small activities to get people to know each other. Be mindful of people with children and try to work around the best times for them. Ask them to suggest times and welcome them for children to say hi in the calls.
If any company is interested in partnering with us, we can offer a wide range of volunteering opportunities so that they are more connected with the wider society.
And is there any advice you would give those that are still looking to hire and grow, so are therefore hiring remotely?
Crises offer opportunities for companies to hire good talent and pivot to new products and services. Use your recruitment drive as a way to trial working with people based in different locations and be open to working with more distributed teams. Spin your hiring activity into a positive story in society, to make people feel that there is a future and that the economy will recover and thrive again.
Finally, tell us 3 things you have done across your career, which others may not have done, in order to recruit the best talent for your teams?
- Offer internships to junior people and give them a chance to deliver
- Streamline the hiring process
- Hire people that are coming from different backgrounds. Think creatively on what industries or experience could be the right answer for your needs