Banking and Expansion the Wise Way – MEA region
Hi, I’m Tawanda, Expansion Lead in the MEA region. The MEA expansion team is a subset of the Global Expansion team responsible for solving problems and building rails in the Middle East and Africa. I joined the Wise team in the summer of 2021 and my primary territories of focus are initially Turkey and Nigeria.
What I do:
The core mission of the Banking and Expansion Team is to identify opportunities to grow the Wise brand and products to both new and existing customers. We’re the pivot point around which the diverse skills assembled at Wise can focus to tackle our core mission – money without borders!
For the territories I am responsible for, I contribute to formulating a strategy — building tactics and an action plan that will see the business expand and open up opportunities for customers to move their money around the world in easier, cheaper and faster ways. Externally this involves building relationships and partnerships with key stakeholders in the markets in question — such as regulators, other fintechs, payment service providers and banks. Given the varied markets we operate in, there isn’t a set manual of how to do this, and the drive and creativity really has to come from the Banker and Expansion team! A large part of the role is understanding from a very localised level what will work, what will not work, setting priorities, and building the internal case for execution.
What is enjoyable:
I work in challenging, emerging markets. With the territory comes a lot of ambiguity, change and uncertainty, which all translate into risk from a business point of view! That’s the trigger point for a lot of internal crafting and analysis, to help build with these challenges in mind. It really requires focus and perseverance to influence the way people view our opportunities in new markets!
An example of a project I am currently working on is re-opening the Nigeria route for our customers. We unfortunately had to shut due to regulatory changes and some uncertainty around our position in the market. It’s a massively exciting opportunity with several contours of information gathering, analysis and decision making – a beautiful baptism of fire to the Wise mission!
Some of my colleagues in the Banking and Expansion team are working on growing, optimising and finding efficiencies in existing markets that have a level of maturity and predictability. My work is largely figuring out how we can operate sustainably in new markets.
As a result, the demands are a lot of learning, digging into details and becoming the subject matter expert for a territory — with a full picture of what the opportunities for Wise are and how the business can execute on them. There is a lot of responsibility and accountability that comes with this, but also a massive opportunity to have a big personal impact on the collective effort of the business. This role allows you to imprint your style and personality in the approach to problem solving. The Banking and Expansion team and colleagues in our orbit come from an amazing array of professional and personal backgrounds — this really does spark a genuine culture of idea sharing and feedback. People want to get things done in smart ways. There is a palpable sense of adventure and endeavour about the manner people approach work. It’s an amazing setting for personal growth, and while being challenging, it’s a lot of fun!
Impact — there’s a lot!
You have autonomy on big issues very early on. This forces you to grow and take responsibility from day one. When you put this way of working into the context of Wise’s mission — it’s a privilege to have this level of responsibility. It’s a huge challenge, but not something that instills fear in the culture at Wise. Instead, it’s the fuel that keeps people motivated and looking forward.