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Top fintech CTO on the 24-year-olds doing intense jobs, and how to get hired

It’s not easy getting a job in fintech in 2024. Jobs are scarce, and competition is high. In Index Ventures’ new startup guide ‘Scaling Through Chaos’, Wise CTO Harsh Sinha suggests that, if you want to stand out as a software engineer, you’ll need to think more like a product manager.

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“Every engineer we hire has an interview round called the ‘product round’” Sinha says. In it, engineers are asked “what have you built, how did you measure impact, and why did you build it that way?” Sinha expects Wise staff to be “generalists, able to take on other roles in the company,” and calls specialization a “productivity killer,” albeit a necessary one once you reach a certain scale.

If you’re a product manager (PM) meanwhile, you’ll need to make sure you’re likeable. Sinha says “engineers can effectively fire the PM by just walking away.” He calls PMs “the glue, but not the CEO in a squad.”

You’ll also need to be prepared for lots of responsibilities very early. When Sinha first joined Wise he said it was full of “young and driven people, aggressively learning. 24-year-olds were launching new countries.” He doesn’t expect you to have it all figured out, however, saying “you should feel like things are almost at the point of chaos,” and that the best swords are “forged when the steel is almost melting.”

In exchange for this responsibility, teams at Wise are very meritocratic. Wise MD Steve Naudé calls teams there "startups within scaleups," and high-performing teams are able to pitch growth to their higher ups like pitching to an investor.

Surabhi Gupta, formerly SVP of engineering at Robinhood, has similar demands of her technologists in the startup guide. She says engineers “need to shoulder additional responsibilities when it comes to developing production level code." She warns against expecting too much too soon; a common problem she has noticed is when “a technical team needs to be scaled from 20 to 60 in a year, but delivery plans assume you already have the 60 in place to start building.”

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AUTHORAlex McMurray Editor

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