Radically transparent career maps

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At TransferWise one of our core product values is transparency. Our mission is to remove the hidden fees that so often get applied when you send money across borders to different currencies – so advocating for transparency and building it into our product is a top priority. At times we’ve taken this maybe a bit too literally – you might remember the team from a few years ago stripped to their underwear protesting outside the Houses of Parliament against those hidden fees that banks like to charge

Making career maps transparent

Today we still passionately believe in that mission and continue to lobby for transparency in financial products, as well as upholding that value across our products – money transfers, borderless accounts and cards. We’ve also started to apply that principle to our product team – and earlier this year published what is probably one of the most radically transparent career maps in the industry. And it’s had way more impact than we expected.

Take a look here.

We started out in early 2020 by wanting to ensure that product managers at TransferWise were clear on the expectations of their role, that promotions, feedback and compensation was fair across the team and there was a guide to help PMs grow with the product they were building. The subtext to that final point is that we tried to codify what we mean when we say ‘the more impact you have for customers, the more you’ll grow and be rewarded’. We want to be clear that we evaluate impact and pay our people consistently and fairly.

Gender diversity in Product teams

At the same time as we started putting this career map together, we were also starting to tackle some of the imbalances in our Product team – specifically our gender diversity, which was not in an acceptable state. Back then less than 20% of our PMs were female. I’m proud to say that’s increased to 35% over the past months and the career map has really helped us to do that. 

We realised that women, as well as many other minority groups, are far less likely to apply for jobs when the salary range and level of seniority of the role are not clear. So, publishing our career map suddenly became a priority as we tidied up our job descriptions with more inclusive language, clarity on our support for flexible working and clear statements of intent for our commitment to building diverse teams. We quickly realised that the career map was going to help more than our product managers – it was going to help us find the product managers we needed to hire to achieve our mission.

Customers first

Partnering with recruiters

One key adjustment we made to our hiring process was to mandate 50:50 female to male sourcing, which meant leaning on our recruitment teams to really rethink how they found candidates for our open roles. The career map helped them to firstly understand what we were looking for at each level of product manager, find relevant candidates and then describe clearly to those candidates what we were looking for. Of course job ads can do a lot of this work, but having a generic description of each product manager role makes proactive sourcing much easier. It also helps us to connect candidates with multiple roles – we often consider candidates for multiple roles. Our recruitment team are partners for every hire we make and the career map has really helped that partnership to work. 

Why do we vouch for transparent career maps?

So to summarise, here’s why every organisation should have a radically transparent career map:

  •  It helps create a culture where PMs in an org feel confident that they are treated fairly and supports them to grow
  • It helps PMs outside the org understand what we are looking for at TransferWise and whether the role might be a good fit for them
  • It helps our hiring teams (recruiters, hiring managers, etc) do their job by supporting sourcing of candidates, screening calls and all the way through to offer conversations – the end result of this is that it increases the speed at which we hire the right people
  • It helps us build the team we need to achieve our mission faster

I strongly believe in managing your team like a product – understand its problems, continually think of ways to improve or solve them, test those ways and measure the impact, do more or less of those things as appropriate. People build the product and getting that to work well at scale doesn’t come for free. We’ve found something that works here – as well as our hiring rate and gender diversity metrics both trending up, we’ve had enough anecdotal feedback from Product Managers both at TransferWise and externally to feel confident that this is worth doing.


Want to join us? Check out our open roles here.