Q&A with Flora, Head of Government Relations

Government RelationsLondon

For our EU campaign in Brussels, we created an experiential event outside of the EU parliament to secure a groundbreaking regulation that brings transparency to the millions of Europeans who make international payments every year. We commissioned famous cartoonist Lectrr and took over the Politico newspaper. We then built a souvenir stand stuffed with goodies with the Manneken Pis cartoon. We went to passersby and asked them to work out the cost of something judging by the typical information you get with the price and the exchange rate. It was the most exciting thing – taking over the newspaper, seeing it go to press and talking with everyone on the street. We knew it was the right thing to do, and it worked, the Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of the regulation.

Why did you join Wise?

I started my career working for the Conservative Party as an adviser, learning lots of new skills and doing something that I strongly believe in. After this, I went into consultancy to help companies engage with the political process. However, as a consultant, I started missing getting deep into longer-term problems and campaigning on something I’m truly passionate about. When I was looking into a new job, it was vital for me to find a company that is striving to improve the world. That’s what got me bought into Wise – the mission of making international payments fast, cheap and transparent. And I love how I can do that and oversee projects end-to-end.

In a nutshell, what do you do at Wise?

In the Government Relations team, we do two things: policy and campaigns. We’re all about making and shaping rules and regulations that make it easier for people to live global, borderless lives. What’s different from lots of policy teams is that the team and I get to choose what’s the right thing to do to improve the lives of our customers. So it’s not just lobbying to drive profits, it’s creating secure services, driving down prices and improving the speed of our services and the product for our customers. 

I get to work with so many teams – Product, Marketing, PR and a lot of the time we have to make big decisions and are trusted to make them. It’s also cool that there’s a lot of people in institutions like European Union, diplomatic institutions and international organisations that have people who want to shout out about us. It’s interesting to be able to work with them and our teams to explain how we bring a new way of doing things.

What’s the biggest challenge working here?

Accepting that you’re going to be on the edge of your comfort zone at all times here. I’m always doing new things that haven’t been done before. It’s a lot of learning on the job. There’s really no constraints due to your job title or rank. You can join as Policy Officer and be involved in the highest level of discussions and be very involved. It can be scary, and it’s a lot of hard work, but if you put yourself out there, it’s a very rewarding place to work. It’s like the time I went on stage with the president of France – a little frightening, but so exciting!

What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on?

It’s difficult to pinpoint one project, but I love all the work we have done so far about delivering on transparency. It’s a rare opportunity to shape legislation to improve the lives of people. We’ll struggle to make a difference if we’re the only transparent ones in the industry, we need other companies to do the same. Otherwise, people will never realise how much they’re being ripped off.

Government relations team doing a campaign in Brussels

The highlight of our work on transparency must be when we got European Legislation through. As a result, all providers in the EU must show the truth of what it costs to make an international payment. It’s such a rare thing seeing policy come through end-to-end. It was a team effort with our PR and Paid Social teams. This law change makes me so proud. It’s not something that generates new users or particularly makes us more money. But it’s the right thing to do and makes it a fair level playing field. Most people don’t understand the exchange change margin, but soon everyone will know the true cost of their international transfers.

What’s your team’s fun tradition?

We do nerdy political things because we all love them. We’ve gone to a political play in the UK parliament, done tours of congress in Washington DC and went to a lecture from a Lord. 

What does working with freedom and autonomy mean to you?

As a lead, you can’t make decisions for people, but instead, you let the people closest to the problem make the calls. You need to be a coach to your team and deliver a working environment where you ensure the team gets feedback and can use that to make decisions on their own.

Working in autonomous teams comes in waves. First, you get excited about all the responsibility and trust you get. After this, it’s despair – the fear of doing something wrong. But eventually the wave softens out to be a line of comfort – you have the opportunity and respect it, but you’re not terrified by failure.

What’s the most unusual job you’ve ever done?

At university I sold sweets at a nightclub in Manchester, working until 5am. I got to meet all the DJs, which was cool!

When I was 16, I worked in the court service, making sure all the files went to the right places. This was before everything was digitised. It was really hard!

What’s your side hustle?

I use my spare time to do political stuff. I’m the National Deputy Chair of a political organisation – the Tory Reform Group. I help run events and conferences coming up about political campaigns. I also campaign for the party I’m involved in.

I also love knitting. I made a very good beanie already. The next project is to do a blanket with more complex patterns but to be honest, I’m a bit worried about getting into making socks. Recently I also tried sketching. I get to travel a lot with my job, which I love, but I realised I wasn’t stopping to really appreciate the places I’m in. I want to encapsulate moments better, so I sketch and paint to have the memories, and it’s so much nicer than just a photo.