On 16 May, the rapidly growing team of TrueLayeristas met bright and early at Waterloo Station to embark on an epic journey: the annual retreat! This was a time set aside to celebrate how far we have come together and reflect on where we aim to go, with a healthy dose of team bonding, delicious food, and luxury accommodations in an exclusive setting.
Nicki: Though a bit sleepy, I was thrilled to experience my second TrueLayer retreat. My first retreat experience was travelling to Sicily in May 2018 in my very first week at TrueLayer. As a total newbie, it was a great way to get to know my new team-and quickly!
In the course of the past year, I had seen the TrueLayer team grow from 17 to 45 strong💪! Seeing the mix of new and old faces on the train to New Milton made me feel proud and lucky to be a part of such a diverse, intelligent, and humorous team.
Salim: Being relatively new to the company (only 1 month into my role), I didn ’t know what to expect from the retreat. But to my excitement, the accommodations were beyond anything I could have imagined! Our rooms were insanely luxurious and people marvelled at having a TV in the bathroom for instance. Chewton Glen, the location of our retreat, is truly magnificent and had a perfect mix of luxury and comfort.
After some much-needed coffee, sunshine, and fresh air to enliven us, we made our way to the main event. It was shaping up to be a perfect day of battling it out in a series of team activities and the competitive trash-talking had already begun! As the teams were announced, we split into 6 groups and made our way to the battlefield ⚔️.
The anticipation and excitement were palpable on the way to the field. Our team (AKA Team 3: The Best Team) was comprised of us (Salim and Nicki) as well as a Designer, a Data Scientist, an Engineer, and a CSM. It was refreshing to get the opportunity to work with people we don’t typically work with to get to know them more. Thanks to our team leader Steve’s epic dance choreography, we won the very first contest - an ideal way to start things off!
After our dance victory 🕺, we were paired with another team and made our way through the following events:
hoppers (racing on giant inflatable horses) 🐎
washing machine (we were all collectively wondering what this mysterious activity was for WEEKS! It turned out to be an inflatable bounce house full of foam!)
assault course (racing quickly through various obstacles)
school sports (sack race, beanbag balancing, relay race)
gladiator joust (as seen below!) 🤼♀️
After the first round of activities, we were all getting hungry and headed inside to a delicious lunch spread.
Fully recharged from our meal, we headed back out for round two of activities. The afternoon was a bit more relaxed and required more dexterity vs. physicality.
We competed in:
laser clay pigeon shooting (PSA: no animals were harmed and no actual shots fired!)
an entertaining falconry 🦅lesson
storm the castle (trying to knock down a wooden “castle” with a cannon)
bungee run (racing against your competitor while tethered to a giant bungee cord)
dog agility training 🐕
Almost everyone’s (at least Nicki and I’s) favourite part was hanging out with the three hunting dogs Banksy, Elsa, and our new best friend, Cleo! Before we knew it, the afternoon was over and it was time to say goodbye to the pups 😞
Our team narrowly finished second 🥈 to the ultimate victor, Team 6.
After all of the running, bouncing, sliding, jumping, and shooting, we were all ready for a break and utilised the next few hours prior to dinner to treat ourselves to a nap, spa trip, or a relaxing lounge in the pool. Resting was vital in order to recharge for the epic night that lay ahead 🔋.
Wine and canapés on the terrace at sunset were next on the agenda. Freshly showered and decked out in our finest, we recounted the highlights of the day and slowly but surely made our way indoors to commence the dinner festivities (with more wine!🍷) and wacky entertainment courtesy of some off the wall “waiters”. A fantastic three-course meal was enjoyed, followed by an impromptu rendition of “On Top of the Eastern Mountain” 🏔 by our very own Product team songstress Jennifer, and a moving speech by our ever-thoughtful and inspiring CEO, Francesco.
The speech centred on the themes of the journey and rapid growth of TrueLayer, the sense of pride, purpose, and belonging that we feel as TrueLayeristas, and the importance of building something new every day that will transform and profoundly change us. He encouraged us to push boundaries of what we think we can do and to ultimately, party as a team! 🥂
And party we did! Music, dancing, a costume-filled photo booth, rolling down the hill 🤔 and an open bar were ours for the taking. The DJ kept everyone dancing until the wee hours of the night, playing a mix of classic pop hits, electro, as well as more recent hits. After the dance floor shut down, we moved the party to the hotel bar and enjoyed cocktails, laughs, and all-round good times 🍸.
The next day, we enjoyed a relaxed breakfast 🥐 and took a leisurely stroll to the beach. We walked along the tranquil forest trail, enjoying each others company. It was a refreshing change of pace to be temporarily away from busy London life. Once we felt the sand under our feet, we soaked up the views, snapped some photos, befriended a few local dogs, and reflected on the amazing experience we’d shared thus far.
Being in such a serene environment led to thoughts about the rapid company growth in this past year both in terms of people but also in terms of goals, achievements, and aspirations. From moving into our own office to hiring 25 additional faces, to receiving $35M in funding, TrueLayer has had one epic year!
On the train ride 🚆back, we were tired, a little bit sore, quite a few of us sunburned, but ultimately we were in good spirits. Yet again, we had experienced a wonderfully fun shared adventure that brought us together across all functions and strengthened valued relationships. We had the weekend ahead to rest, recover, and reflect upon what had been gained over the past few days. Here are our main takeaways:
This company treats employees very well-my hotel room was bigger than my London apartment! 😱
It is refreshing to team up with people you don’t typically work with and know that they’ll have your back
I am perpetually amazed at the rapid growth I’ve seen over the year and know it’s not stopping anytime soon
I work with a damn good group who love to have fun together! 💯
This retreat came at the perfect time in my TrueLayer journey — it allowed me to break the ice with 44 colleagues that I now get to call friends
It was really great to see such a diverse group of people come together and bond over a weekend
We are competitive and want to win, but have fun doing it 🏆
I’m very excited by the challenge of scaling this amazing team while preserving our great culture
Interested in joining us for the adventure ahead 🛣️? Our stellar team is what makes TrueLayer great and we’re always looking for brand new faces! Reach out — we’re hiring across a variety of roles!