How to build a world-class team in a global and remote context

Maria Santos

Maria Santos VP of People


How to build a world-class team in a global and remote context

Is it possible to build a world-class team in a remote context? At Belvo we think it is, and this is how we’ve approached this challenge in order to create a shared and successful company culture.

Culture is one of the critical topics inside every company and, at Belvo, we take it to the next level due to our challenging mission: power the next generation of financial services in Latin America through a bank and financial data API platform. We are only able to accomplish that mission with the right people. And for that need to have a team with whom we share the same set of values and empower everyone with autonomy and accountability.

So, how do we do that? How do you align different people, from different cultures, with different backgrounds, under the same mission?

First, let me share with you some data about us that will give you more context before we proceed:

  • Belvo had a team of two people in June 2019. 
  • We have grown 400 percent in terms of headcount thus far in 2020. Only 0.5 percent of our worldwide applicants are hired 
  • Our team has 12 different nationalities and it’s a hybrid between 38 percent full remote employees and 62 percent remote friendly employees that can work from our 3 offices: CDMX, São Paulo and Barcelona. 
  • Around 22 percent of our hires come from employee referrals.
  • According to our Q3 assessment results 100 percent of the team has good or high engagement.
  • We have zero voluntary employee turnover.

We would have never been able to achieve these numbers without a strong company culture and without a deliberate process. So what have we done so far to build a company culture while working in a remote context?

An aligned and focused hiring process

We try to avoid all bias or assumptions by implementing shared decisions from the start in everything we do:

Several people inside Belvo participate in different stages of the hiring process. After all, you choose who you’re working with and they choose you too. Our process starts with the definition of the profile (together with a manager, the people team, and a senior belvoer). Once the profile is well defined and all stakeholders are aligned, every candidate will follow a standard process: 

  1. Interview with a belvoer and the People team. To check the cultural fit and screen the hard skills. Sometimes you meet people that are good, but they are not the right ones for you at that moment. In these cases we keep in touch with candidates for potential future collaborations.
  2. If the candida is, we follow-up with a technical test that the candidate will have the chance to present to their future manager and a team mate. At this stage we understand deeply how suitable the candidate is in terms of pragmatism, getting things done, etc. 
  3. What follows is a team fit meeting with one of their future teammates to gather more data in terms of how we work: we need everyone to feel comfortable and aligned. 
  4. Finally you will meet the founders, who meet absolutely everyone at Belvo and are open to answer any questions the candidate has in terms of mission, vision, values, challenges as a company, etc.
  5. And finally we do a references check.

Keep in mind that the process is standard for all candidates, even employees referrals. We need to give everyone exactly the same experience, regardless if you are applying to become a remote employee, to be based in Barcelona, CDMX or São Paulo.

It doesn’t matter where you are based, what matters is who you are and who you’ll become at Belvo.

An onboarding that starts before day one

We’ve set up an onboarding process that allows candidates to feel part of the team before their first day with:

  • A welcome pack, and relevant information as a checklist of items regarding what to read from our Notion articles.
  • They can review our last two recorded all-hands meetings, general and department guides
  • Onboarding schedule, tools, what to expect the first day, the first week, and the first month.
  • Information regarding ‘having a buddy’ (a teammate that supports you through the onboarding) and everything related to the first days.

With a standardized onboarding, as a belvoer you will have access to all information you will need in order to succeed, you will meet part of the team and have the chance to meet absolutely everyone in an all-to-one coffee (virtual) – which happens in your first week – where everyone is invited to join to meet and greet every newbie.

You will also be informed of all the benefits that apply to all employees such as: information regarding holidays, wellness stipends that everyone has, the birthday off, the possibility to change the bank holidays, annual team retreat once per year in a secret location, training budget that we all can use on a yearly basis, etc. And super important: stock options. That means that you are as owner as everyone at Belvo, if we wanna rock it together, everyone needs to feel the ownership. One company, one team, one mission.

build a team in a remote context

A culture based on trust, respect and care

One of our core values is the community-driven focus – with our clients, with our clients’ end-users, and with our teammates. In that sense, we have crafted a culture based on trust, respect, and care. And a part of showing that care, in the long run, is not about words, it’s about acting according to it. So we also set up these initiatives:

  • We do weekly all-hands meetings on Fridays where all belvoers are present and where all aspects of the business are reviewed: KPIs, sales, product launches, new hires, etc. We also reserve 15 minutes at the end for Q&A.
  • The founders do AMA (ask me anything) sessions every month in order for everyone to feel comfortable and understand how approachable we all are. And that at Belvo we don’t have tabus, we are all focused on growing together as a team and a company.
  • The people team holds informal coffees with all team members from time to time. Interaction is key in a team. And the best way to interact is by knowing each other and sharing experiences.
  • Donut random coffees. There’s a human tendency to speak with people that are closer to you, that you work with on a day-to-day basis, or that you have some alignment in terms of hobbies and interests. With a random weekly space for a virtual coffee, you can discover things in common, that you didn’t even think or know about. And, the best thing about it: you have an enjoyable meeting not focused on work-related subjects.
  • We also have more formal one-on-ones on a monthly and quarterly basis that lead up to the yearly performance appraisal. In these formal check-ins each belvoer reviews with his or her manager the impact they had as a belvoer during the year and how to further progress in their career path and in terms of responsibility. Since we are a startup, and things move fast, also our careers move fast.
  • At Belvo we give everyone the empowerment they need or want. During these check-ins, belvoers will answer a set of predetermined questions to help them understand the impact they have inside Belvo, to give them the space to share their thoughts. It is also a space to give and receive feedback in order to become a more effective team and align expectations.

These are some of the key highlights that help us to align, build and scale: at a personal and at a company level. That being said, we are continuously trying new things if they make sense for our people and structure. They help us replicate the culture we have and set the roots to scale while keeping us focused on the important things.

Want to join the team? Check out all our open positions here.



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