Look closely at the personal skills of an employee. You never know how powerful a sales manager can be working as a product manager and vice versa. Sometimes we even go in the opposite direction and offer a position for an already hired employee instead of hiring a new employee for a certain vacancy.
I had the pleasure to interview Ilya Bere. Ilya is the CEO at Changelly, an instant exchange platform that allows to swap over 100 cryptocurrencies and purchase them with a bank card. Ilya’s leadership skills and proper vision allowed to build the powerful and friendly team that made Changelly one of the most prominent exchange services in the crypto industry. Ilya has graduated in Computer Science. Before going crypto, he worked for 10 years in Business Development and Delivery Management in ICT sphere. His strong Product Owner and Project Management skills were useful in many companies working with Mobile and Contactless Technologies, Payment and Loyalty Systems, Consumer Devices, Automotive, Education and Social Development. Nowadays, Ilya’s profound knowledge in the IT sphere helps Changelly effectively deal with the growth issues and daily challenges. He controls the service quality for customers and a range of partners, contributes to the marketing strategy, and sets the right direction for the company as a whole.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
It all started 5 years ago with a small group of crypto enthusiasts who were keen on creating an outstanding cryptocurrency product. Back then, those guys were already well-experienced in crypto and stood behind a project with the longest track record. Changelly was born as a spin-off and now is running as a separate project with a new team of young professionals. I joined the team at the mid-2017 as COO and was appointed as the CEO in September this year.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I remember my first working day at Changelly. It was a cloudy day, I asked my new teammates about the best way I can get to know the product better. And then I was connected to our support ticket desk. There was plenty of different questions I had no idea how to deal with. Among typical questions of our users about their transaction statuses, I saw a few questions from people who wondered how to get bitcoins to their… home postal addresses. That was really weird. How come these people log in to Changelly? There must be a reason! That was the time when I came up with the conclusion that we need to educate the people and provide them with knowledge and smooth experience. So I set the goal that each one of our users should know that bitcoins can not be sent to their postal addresses. Neither to emails.
How do you synchronize large teams to effectively work together?
We have a literally decentralized team, as it’s spread all over the world, in different time zones for maintaining 24/7 support. Whether it’s a partner or customer, they’re always sure to be answered in the nearest time. Keeping the whole team updated and synced is vital. We use collaborative tools, Skype-calls on a regular basis. Once a week, each department shows demos of their achievements. Together, we discuss further improvements and set new goals. All these things are crucial for keeping up the team spirit on a high level.
What is the top challenge when managing global teams in different geographical locations? Can you give an example or story?
I think the main challenge in global team management is recruiting. You need to know well the person you are about to work with. You need to know about their soft skills and hard skills and how flexible their mindset is. Then, you need to arrange the inner process between team members that works flawlessly. And that is the second challenge. The key point is to make the interchangeable team that can resolve issues 24/7, whatever the location.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
I would advise providing your employees with as many responsibilities as they are ready to take. There are some cases when people in Changelly migrate from one position to another. One can work in the support team and then change to another position, like a community manager. If one is ready for new challenges, you should challenge them. This is the only way to grow a loyal, self-manageable professional with ambitions and love for the project.
Another thing to advise is looking closely at the personal skills of an employee. You never know how powerful a sales manager can be working as a product manager and vice versa. Sometimes we even go in the opposite direction and offer a position for an already hired employee instead of hiring a new employee for a certain vacancy.
Most times when people quit their jobs they actually “quit their managers”. What are your thoughts on retaining talent today?
The staff attrition at Changelly is very low. Over the last year, we had only 3 persons who quitted their job. And that was because of dramatic changes in their lives. We have quite high demands when hiring. But in return, we offer a flexible schedule, remote work, and loyalty to the needs of our staff. Blockchain catches up. People love the project, and we need to prevent them from burning out and take care of their comfort since they spend the major part of life at work.
Based on your personal experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team”. (Please share a story or example for each, Ideally an example from your experience)
Things I learned are somewhat obvious, but therefore effective. I think when you combine and all these things in your team and keep up healthy working climate, you build a self-manageable entity and smooth working process in the long run.
Knowledge — Blockchain is a thing that requires a strong general understanding. At the same time, it’s a relatively new technology the most people are not so well accustomed to. When hiring, we meet wonderful and very proactive persons who could become one of our team members but are not well-experienced in blockchain. We give them a chance to prove themselves. In most cases, it catches on, and they become experts in the crypto industry.
You need to appreciate the knowledge that every team member contributes to the company success and train new employees to handle with a plethora of everyday challenges by sharing your knowledge with them. This is the only key to thriving.
Experience — Experience is knowledge put into practice. That’s a never-ending process of trial and error you should discuss with your team over and over, translate your customers feedback directly to the team and talk to them about failures which are, alas, inevitable. Sharing the experience is vital, because it prevents the rest of your team from making the same mistakes twice.
Passion — The crypto industry never forgives a botch. You have to do a high-quality product to stay afloat. You should be ready for the hard work, game changing, sudden challenges, working 24/7. Without passion, doing all these things is impossible.
Enthusiasm — every idea of your teammates should be valuable. As you said, you never know which one will trigger. To maintain the constant flow of fresh mind, you should keep the whole team updated on the roadmap and let them know how the whole company is evolving. We are currently working on the major updates for our service which was contributed by each team member of Changelly.
Healthy working moods — The most part of life we spend at a job. That’s why we need to feel comfortable. You need to ask every team member how are they doing. You need to take care of their comfort by creating a friendly environment, discuss with them their pain, if any, listen and be helpful. Only in this case your employee will stay cool and motivated.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
That movement is already exists, and I’m very proud to be part of that. The movement is called blockchain. In fact, it is already here to revolutionize the way the good and bad is dispersed around the world and make this ratio more righteous probably with all of the discovered and undiscovered options it can give to our everyday life. After all, having an option is the key point that initially gave birth to such a technology and made it that popular. People just want to have an alternative to traditional outdated financial institutions. And I see Changelly’s mission in speeding up the mass adoption. We strive for lowering entry barriers into the crypto world and make digital currencies accessible for non tech-savvy people. We’re constantly working on providing the smoothest experience possible, because everyone should know that crypto is the future of money, smart, secure and easy.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
It’s all about people. The people you are doing your job for and ones you do it with. Your experience should be valuable for both the users and team. You must strike the balance between the needs of users, market players and your team, understand their pains. There is always a reason why a person talks to you and why a user interacts with your product. Regarding this fact, you always need to take this reason into account.