Discover our Qonto Insiders of the month: Albertine Lecointe, VP Strategic Projects at Qonto.
1. What did you do before joining Qonto? (Education, professional experience, etc.)
Right after receiving my degree from HEC, I joined (8 years ago now!), somewhat by chance, a London-based start-up specializing in payment services. I knew nothing about this sector, but I was drawn to the wide range of use cases involved, the multitude of innovations, and the number of regulatory challenges. With Bankable, we paired up with start-up accelerator Level 39 and started discussions with young neobanks like Revolut and Monzo; I think this marked the beginning of “Fintech”. It was an incredible adventure living in a city as vibrant as London.
After this first experience, I moved to Paris where I joined Exton Consulting, a consulting firm specializing in financial services, in their Payment department more specifically. I had the opportunity to work on several projects, from a payment strategy for a major mutual bank, and the acquisition of a Fintech by a retail bank, to a payment strategy for a meal voucher provider. I think this experience helped me build my self-confidence by interacting with clients. It also introduced me to the basics of management.
2. Why did you join Qonto?
The reason is simple: when working at Bankable, my closest colleagues and I were convinced there was an opening on the neobank segment for professionals. At that time, Holvi was the only player on this market when B2C neobanks began to multiply.
We started working on a prototype, market study, a brand... but the project never came to fruition. When I heard that two experienced entrepreneurs were exploring this idea, I contacted them immediately.
3. How would you summarize the recruitment process?
The recruitment process was very thorough for such a young company! There were no more than 20 people working at Qonto when I had my interviews. Qonto had yet to hire any HR personnel or recruiters, but I was struck by the efficiency of the process and the active involvement of Alex and Steve (our co-founders).
4. What stood out to you about the onboarding process?
My first onboarding session with Qonto was promptly set up. The process at the time was certainly not as well organized and set up as it is today, but it was still very impressive how quickly it was put together.
There were no more than 40 of us at Qonto when our previous Happiness Manager began organizing these sessions. They introduced the new Qontoers to the various positions at Qonto and provided more insight into the company’s vision.
Since then, the process for the onboarding sessions has continued to improve thanks to feedback from the teams. I’m truly impressed by the quality of the sessions held for new hires today.
5. Tell us about what you do as VP Strategic Projects at Qonto.
The Strategic Projects team is structured around 3 missions:
- To work closely with the Product team to launch features involving partners (premium cards, SWIFT, Apple Pay, etc.)
- To provide competitive intelligence in order to set short- and medium-term priorities for our roadmap.
- To manage cross-disciplinary initiatives by involving and aligning all stakeholders at Qonto.
6. What are the qualities required to be a successful VP Strategic Projects?
I think the following qualities are essential:
- An understanding of the market, our competitors and new trends in order to guide our medium-term strategy with an informed, unbiased approach.
- An ability to analyze and summarize information in order to derive a clear methodology in response to all types of issues involving partners, products and our organization.
- Finally, by far one of the most important qualities, communication skills to bring people together and keep them moving in the same direction, for our internal stakeholders but also for our external partners.
7. How would you summarize your day-to-day life as part of the Qonto Strategy team?
Each day begins with a daily team meeting to understand the previous day’s challenges and to form an action plan for the day. I also attend meetings on the various ongoing projects, and I try to make time to focus on formalizing the progress made or the difficulties encountered.
8. What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest success as VP Strategic Projects?
I think that my biggest challenge (and success!) was my first project at Qonto, which was to receive our Payment Institution license.
Back then, Qonto operated as an Agent of an Electronic Money Institution. This set-up enabled Qonto to launch its services quickly and thus test the product market fit over the span of a few months.
Qonto’s vision from the outset, however, was to obtain its own Payment Institution authorization in order to become more agile in the aim of offering adapted and dedicated services to its customers. The issuing of our authorization in June 2018 by the ACPR (the French prudential supervision and resolution authority) was the first step towards this independence.
9. Which of Qonto’s 4 values (Ambition, Mastery, Teamwork, Integrity) resonates with you the most and why? What do you appreciate most about the Qonto Way?
I’m torn between Ambition and Teamwork.
I think Ambition best characterizes Qonto, not in the negative sense of the term, but rather the ambition to create a better service for professionals, free from barriers or constraints.
However, the one I find most useful on a daily basis is Teamwork, because I rely on so many people and skills internally in order to help make the projects I am working on a success.
Although it can sometimes be difficult to implement, the Qonto Way concept that resonates with me the most is “one‑piece flow”: to concentrate on priority projects or tasks and carry them out through to avoid creating gridlock and unnecessary reserves in the production chain.
10. If you could speak to future Qonto candidates, what would you say?
If you agree with Qonto’s vision, are motivated by challenges, and, most importantly, if you have a desire to learn, join us! 🤗
Qonto’s size now offers the advantages of a big company—in terms of salary, benefits, growth prospects and activities—as well as those of a start-up company, where each employee can see the real-world impact of their actions.
11. Do you have a fun anecdote you would like to share about your time at Qonto?
When I first heard that two Parisian entrepreneurs were launching a business finance management solution for professionals, I reached out to them immediately. If I recall, the only job openings were for developers, so I wrote to them directly using the Qonto website contact form... in October 2016.
I had no idea the Qonto website had only just been published, or that the team initially thought I was a competitor trying to obtain information on their services. But the Qonto team replied to invite me to lunch... and the rest is history! 😉