TrueTalk with George
George is our payments trailblazer who is fearlessly leading the development and growth of our Payments product 🚀. His work ethic, customer-focused attitude, and big picture thinking are inspiring to all TrueLayeristas! Did we mention he also conducts Westend orchestras and wins hackathons in his spare time? 🎼💻
Tell us what you do.
I’m a Product Lead at TrueLayer, building out our payments platform.
We’re a small team made up of product and engineering folks. We’re growing fast, and building product that is changing the payments industry; making faster payments accessible for every business. We use open banking to facilitate bank-to-bank payments, disrupting an industry dominated by card scheme monopolies. Every day is interesting for our team, whether you’re an engineer or a product manager.
Most of my time is spent building our payments product strategy, managing the engineering workload, and sharing knowledge across the organisation so that our clients can integrate in the smoothest way possible.
What are you most excited to work on over the next few months?
In the next few months, the payments team will be tripling in size so that we can start building some exciting new features in the digital money space 🛠💰. The next evolution of the product moves beyond building connections to PSD2 Payment Initiation APIs. We are creating an end-to-end platform that can service everything a merchant needs to send, receive and reconcile payments in the fastest way possible. We’re going to be the first in the industry to do this and will be solving a huge pain for any company issuing payments digitally, anywhere in the world.
Until now, there has been no way for a merchant to access the fastest payment rails in every region they operate in. TrueLayer will be providing this, democratised for the every day, unregulated merchant.
What attracted you to TrueLayer?
Before TrueLayer, I was running a FinTech startup for 3 years focused on machine learning as a service in the finance industry. This experience developed my love of building financial products that enable businesses, and I knew that I wanted to work on a similar product again.
TrueLayer is an enabler and I love this. We don’t build products that compete with our clients, we provide the rails and infrastructure for everything from startups to enterprises to build exciting financial products — whether they are using financial data or using faster payments. A huge market is emerging for businesses that provide the ‘plumbing’ and TrueLayer is one of the leading companies in this area. This was really exciting for me.
How do you maintain balance while working in a fast-paced startup environment?
Like many product managers I know, when I get excited about a product, I go all in. Obsessive focus fuels innovation and leads to the best products being built. However, it can also lead to burnout and I felt this hugely when I ran my startup. I think it is really important to have a creative outlet that is totally separate from work.
For me, this is music 🎼. All throughout my childhood, music was my obsessive focus. A couple of times a month I sing in and conduct cathedral choirs and often deputise in the Westend as a conductor ⛪️. It is so different in every way from work that it acts as both an outlet and a hobby. This helps me maintain balance.
What is something unexpected you recently learned at TrueLayer?
I learnt Francesco (our CEO) and I both trained as professional tenors before going into tech! Although Fra definitely has me bested as alumni of the Sistine Chapel Choir in Rome 😱.
If you weren’t at TrueLayer, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t at TrueLayer I would be starting another company. At TrueLayer we are empowered to make decisions and drive strategy. I feel like I am running my own mini startup, so I’m content.
What advice would you give to aspiring Product Managers within fintech?
Dive in at the deep end 🏊. It is easy to get held up in formality and worry that you don’t have enough experience to build an amazing product, but ultimately products are built with great instinct. There are definitely things that experience can give you, but often the best product decisions aren’t driven by agile scrum training. After building and managing products for 4 years, I’ve learnt that the most important thing is to be customer-obsessed, everything else is secondary.
What would you like to share with those interested in joining TrueLayer?
Get ready to work hard and achieve things you never thought possible. Being a scale-up, we are constantly raising the bar on what we can achieve and we never settle for second best 💪. TrueLayer is creating a market and this is never easy but it is worth it. You’ll spend every day amazed by what the teams at TrueLayer are achieving.
What’s a great book you’ve read or podcast you’ve listened to recently?
I have two favourite books that inspire me at work and at home. Marty Cagan’s ‘Inspired: How to create products customers love’ is one of my favourites. Marty doesn’t just tell you that you should be customer-obsessed he tells you how to be customer-obsessed. This is so important for a product manager — it is very easy to go down a rabbit hole and find that you couldn’t be further from the original customer pain you were solving.
Secondly, Ben Horowitz’s ‘The hard thing about hard things’. I LOVE this book because it doesn’t sugar coat what it takes to succeed in the startup world. The brutal honesty either drives you to succeed or scares you away. Either way, it is for the best. Ben Horowitz shows what it takes to win and this really inspired me with my startup and has driven me to succeed at TrueLayer.
What is your life motto?
Age is just a number 👼.