Employer Branding T.I.P S02Ep09 | Behind the scenes of talent acquisition in FinTech with Gabriella Cheston, @CrossLend


Episode 9 of Employer Branding: The Inside Podcast is live on Spotify! Tune in to listen to Gabriella Cheston, Senior Talent Acquisition Manager at CrossLend, talk about the complexity of the entire recruiting life cycle in FinTech. We also discussed KPIs, delighting employees to preserve competitive advantage, and more. 

What you’ll learn by listening 

  • Talent acquisition in the FinTech industry – how is it different from other industries
  • Delighting employees to preserve competitive advantage 
  • How to position your company from an HR perspective 
  • Insights into the entire recruiting lifecycle 
  • What a talent acquisition manager’s strongest KPI  
  • What makes a candidates a sustainable candidate

About the company 

CrossLend is a FinTech company, licensed & supervised by BaFin and CSSF, with a mission to transform private debt into a more efficient, transparent, and profitable space for both loan originators and investors by providing end-to-end digital solutions and standardisation for loan asset transactions. 

As a hub for loan data management and standardisation, as well as debt trading and securitisation as a service, CrossLend provides leading-edge technology for loan asset transactions on a pan-European scale. The heart of CrossLend’s business model is a private debt platform where originators and investors can interact with each other seamlessly and transparently, viewing loan data clearly in a standardised format. This makes it easy for institutional investors to identify and compare loans according to their criteria. 

CrossLend was founded in Berlin in 2014 and employs more than 70 people from over 30 countries. In addition to its headquarters in Berlin, CrossLend has offices in Frankfurt, Vienna, Luxembourg, and London.

Podcast link – Enjoy listening to S02Ep9 of The Inside Podcast!

Podcast transcription 

Georgiana: Hi everyone! This is Georgiana and you’re listening to Employer Branding: The Inside Podcast. And today I’m talking to someone in the FinTech industry – Gabriela Cheston from CrossLend who is a Senior Talent Acquisition Manager, right? Gabriella, welcome! So happy to have you here today. Could you please tell me first what CrossLend does, and of course, what your daily duties involve?

Gabriella Cheston: Of course! Happy to be here.Thank you, Georgina. I’m Gabriella and I work as Senior Recruiter at CrossLend. I’ve been with the company for about four and a half years now. FinTech stands for financial technology. It is quite a booming industry at the moment, and I’m very, very proud to be part of it. 

CrossLend actually started its journey back in 2014, as a B2C peer-to-peer lending platform company. We’ve changed a lot since then. We’re now operating as a B2B company. And we provide pretty amazing products to digitize loan asset transactions. So we’re in the finance industry and we offer bespoke, tailor-made solutions to financial players around Europe. We’re talking about institutional investors, banks, pension funds, etc.

Georgiana: And you are based in the office in Berlin?

Gabriella Cheston: Exactly. The office is open again. We’re about 65 employees, the headquarter is in Berlin where I mainly do the recruitment. But we’ve got offices in Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Vienna, and London. And we do all get together once a month, but that was post Corona days.

Georgiana: So tell me, Gabriella, how is it to do talent acquisition in the FinTech industry? Is it different, is it the same as all the other areas?

Gabriella Cheston: It’s very different because you’ve got to meet both worlds, the intersection of finance and technology. It’s not just one industry. And in fact, I would say this is a big challenge that we have at CrossLend because it’s two different languages in one. You’ve got the finance side: sales, business marketing, who are selling to our clients, versus the tech people who are working on the behind the scenes features. So it is an entirely different market. And you have to keep that in mind when you’re recruiting within the FinTech ecosystem. So that can be everything from the target audience, the pitch, I greatly differ my speech when I’m talking to developers versus sales people, and it’s very interesting. But it’s not something you learn in a day.

Georgiana: And you don’t learn it by reading it either. You just learn it by doing, I guess.

Gabriella Cheston: By practice, exactly. So it’s very interesting to be at the intersection of both worlds. Absolutely.

Georgiana: Would you say you get the best and the worst, from both of them?

employee value proposition

Gabriella Cheston: You see both sides of the coin. I’m not sure what’s best and worse, but you have to adapt. That’s for sure. And it’s very fascinating to see if you could say it’s a race between finance and tech, and who’s going to be at the finish line. But they are dependent on each other. And that’s how it’s really interesting.

Georgiana: And that’s what keeps it together at the end of the day. You and I both know there’s a lot of competition, right? When it comes to hiring and in tech, maybe FinTech also, but especially in Berlin. Things are crazy around here. So how does CrossLend compete?

Gabriella Cheston: I think we generally have to keep an eye on – and when I say we, we’re talking about HR and management – we have to keep our eyes and ears open and gain market insights. Now that can be from generally comparing with other eight companies, talking at HR events, understanding market insights. 

How we’re going to differ is what we offer our employees internally. We’re talking about the benefits, the packages, the sports memberships, the personal development plan. We are quite strong in that. We have very strong values and we work hard on employee retention. So it’s about knowing what your competitors are offering and seeing how you can leverage from that.

Georgiana: Okay, okay. What’s the one thing that a talent acquisition manager wished would happen on the market right now, so that their life would become easier?

Gabriella Cheston: Well, we’ve had a drought of applications. I think, generally, there’s been a lot of recruiters who had to work a lot harder to be proactive in candidate engagement. There’s been a big gap in employer branding. And I think what would make my life easier – since I spend a lot of time headhunting direct search – I think I would like to see the market change a little bit to work in our favor, get more coverage, get more applications in, more interest. 

It’s a constant battle that we fight with in recruitment. So I think there’s a lot of factors that would influence that but I think it’s how you position your company from an HR perspective and the outreach and the target audience. I think Corona has had a lot of benefits because we’ve now opened our doors internationally. So we can have exotic hires, not just in Berlin, but present or remote work, which is really, that’s a big plus for us.

Georgiana: Yeah, for sure. Yes. And I think more and more companies are looking into that at the moment. What’s your favorite part about the job?

Gabriella Cheston: Well, I love everything. But what I love is actually the entire recruiting life cycle experience. But I truly love making an offer to a candidate and seeing them walk through the doors. For me, that is how I value my success at work. That’s a KPI. When I’ve held the candidate’s hand from the very beginning, we’re talking about maybe one entire month, to that very moment when the candidate signs and walks through the door. 

And we can be collaborating for a couple of years. For me, that is the strongest KPI making a successful hire. And then beyond that, I’ve been at CrossLend almost five years now. And I think as much as I’m motivated by what we do, I think it’s who you work with. And to know that, you know, they’ve been on the other side, and now you’re working together. That, for me, is the most rewarding aspect.

Georgiana: I see. What’s a project or an initiative that’s employer branding related, and that you hold very dear? 

Gabriella Cheston: This was a collaborative effort that we did pre Corona together with an external agent. We filmed the company video, went around the office, and I say this was a good two, three years ago, so it’s time to update. But it’s on our company page, and it’s a company video, and it’s a short teaser of the CrossLend culture and behind the scenes, which we just cannot capture in an interview. 

I can pitch to X,Y, Z so many things, but this little video hopefully can engulf what is life at CrossLend. And it really is a war. And that’s what I love. The interaction with management, there’s flat hierarchies. And this was a really interesting project because it broke down barriers. And it got us talking to different stakeholders and understanding what are the true ingredients that make CrossLend successful. And why would you want to come in as a candidate? 

So this was a big project that we did with marketing and with communications. And this was something that I was heavily involved in. I really had an influence in the direction, so I’m very proud of that. 

Georgiana: Is this on your website?

Gabriella Cheston: It’s on our website, yes. I’d invite everyone to have a look. 

Georgiana: Gabriella, what would you do employer branding related if you had all the money in the world?

Gabriella Cheston: Yes, very good question. I think something linked to the company video. I’d like to lean on maybe doing more testimonials. I think there’s nothing better than having direct footage insights from our team because after all, they are the success, they are what keeps CrossLend going; the manpower, the resources. 

So if I had more time and resources, I would love to, you know, manage the project of having testimonials of different colleagues and understanding what led them to come to CrossLend. Why are they happy? How do they imagine their future with us? I think, again, this is about portraying the behind the scenes at CrossLend not just seeing a job description on paper, but it goes far beyond that. Let’s get the insights.

Georgiana: I guess that’s  bound to happen, right? Now that you’re back in the office?

Gabriella Cheston: I think that’s probable. Yeah, again. Exactly, hopefully. 

Georgiana: Okay, so that brings us to our last question, the question that I ask all my guests at the end of the podcast. What’s a resource that you would recommend? Give me a book, an article, a movie, something that you feel has helped you? It can be professionally or personally.

Gabriella Cheston: Yeah, actually one of my all time favorite books – now I’ve been in recruitment for six years – was recommended by Crossland CEO, Oliver Schimek. It is called Attitude for Hiring, by Mark Murphy. And this book talks about the ethos of what is the best candidate fit for your company. Because every   company has different requirements, whether it’s soft skills and tech skills. 

One of the biggest learnings I’ve had at CrossLend is that we put a lot of emphasis on the soft skills rather than the technical skills. And this book really depicts understanding the approach of what is a suitable candidate and not a suitable candidate. So spending the right amount of time interviewing on the right skills rather than perhaps putting your energy into something that’s not beneficial. 

employee value proposition

Georgiana: That’s super useful for me. I learn a lot from my guests and now I have a very long list to read. Gabriella, this was really nice. It was really nice talking to you today. Good luck.

Gabriella Cheston: Thank you very much, Georgiana! 

Georgiana: We’ll be in touch! 

This was Employer Branding: The Inside Podcast. You can find our podcasts on Spotify on Apple podcasts and content on employer branding-related things on employerbranding.tech. Until the next time, stay tuned.

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