In a job, often, you pick two out of those three things:
- Interesting and challenging work
- Competitive compensation (like salary and various perks)
- Fancy job titles
The fancy job title is a nice way to compensate for deficiencies in the other areas, especially in the "interesting work" one. And sadly in many places the job title matters terribly. However, wouldn't it feel depressing if the main achievement in your professional career is, for example, to have reached Partner level instead of having built an amazing product?
At TransferWise, we don't do such job title sugar coating. We call our engineers Product Engineers, that's it. If a fancy title is important for your ego or job satisfaction, TransferWise isn't the right place for you.
Not only does this build a culture with people having the right kind of motivation, it also saves us from tons of organisational and emotional waste. For the company, ensuring that people have the right titles and handling all the problems that come with it usually consumes a tons of resources. But the effect is worse in term of employee happiness: In an organisation that values titles, not having the right one is a huge source of stress. There is only that much stress and pressure a person can handle, we think it's better to use that small capital on building TransferWise rather than worrying about your business card title.
There is of course a social aspect to the job title. To your mother or friends, it's usually much simpler to tell them your nice title than trying to explain them what you actually do. But hopefully building TransferWise makes also for a compelling and not so hard to explain story!
That being said, we have team leads. We run a complex business, which needs to be organized. That's where leads come into play: Point of contact for other teams, ensuring their teams can do their jobs with no obstacles.
Leads in TransferWise grow organically from the teams. Most of our team leads joined as developers in existing teams first. Even for a role like VP of Engineering, after 18 months of search and 40 different candidates interviewed, when finally Harsh joined, he literally wrote code with the teams for the first two months.
We hire developers that have plenty of technical and non-technical qualities. If you want to, and show the initiative and skills needed for a team lead, after a few months your responsibilities change a bit and voila! you are a lead. I'm not saying promoted, as becoming a team lead is not a recompense for some good work. It's more a (often small) change of focus, and a recognition by the person and by its peers that the skills and motivation for leading a team are there.
TransferWisers usually say that one of the reasons for working here is their great coworkers. Things are just friendly here, and our approach to titles is one building block of this good atmosphere.