Credit Sesame is bringing cash and credit together in a new, seamless way that helps consumers establish a direct path to financial wellness. We help our millions of members improve their credit scores, increase their approval odds, lower the cost of credit, and save money. Our mission is to help consumers improve their financial health and ultimately create better opportunities for themselves and their families.
Each team is asked to select, explain, and rank their top 8 values in order of importance.
EQ > IQ
Emotional intelligence is so close to our heart, we just had to put it first. We value empathy more than raw talent.
Why? We’re a service organization and we do great things only because our teams work closely with each other. No one accomplishes anything alone. Our engineers understand the challenges other departments face and we’ve created an environment where we’re free to be as curious as we need to be. EQ is critically important to us for a number of reasons:
First, one of our core values as a mission-driven company is “Focus on the Member.” We know when Credit Sesame members see improvement in their credit, their quality of life improves dramatically. Having naturally empathetic engineers who remember that the “end user” is a person – a member who’s ready to dig in and do the hard work to build credit, fix past mistakes, or safeguard their future – helps us continually ask ourselves, “Who are we helping in front of the screen?”
Second, emotional intelligence is important to us because we want our engineering talent to grow with us as we scale. We’re committed to promoting talent from within whenever possible. Empathy helps us understand what our engineers need to grow so we can match them with work and responsibilities to help them fulfill their potential as we scale.
We assess empathy and emotional intelligence in our interviews by asking each candidate non-technical questions to get to know them better. When we ask candidates to tell us about a significant achievement, we’re looking to understand how they viewed their role within their team and how they collaborated with others to accomplish their goals. We also check references to learn more about our future teammates – how they work with teammates, and what we need to do to make them successful at Credit Sesame.
Of course, while we value empathy highly, there’s zero compromising on technical skills. So we look for those amazing people who have both qualities.
Bonded by Love for Product
Credit Sesame is the nation’s only full-lifecycle credit management service that helps consumers achieve financial wellness.
Since 2010, we’ve helped millions improve their financial health – at no cost to them – by offering powerful tools possible to access, understand, use, and protect their credit so they can lead better lives. Teammates at Credit Sesame know that they’re a part of something larger – our desire to help millions lead better lives. Our vision isn’t accomplished by a single teammate or department, but by a companywide effort with every department and every teammate working together. Many of our members have low credit scores. Because our teammates care about the people who benefit from our products helps drive our strong engagement, supportive work environment, and high teammate retention. Each month at our Company All-Hands, our members tell us via video how Credit Sesame has improved their lives.
During our interview process, we take time to explain our mission, because we want to hire people who share our common goal. The happiest and most successful teammates at Credit Sesame deeply understand and are motivated by our mission – over 85% of our teammates report feeling connected to our mission and vision.
Currently, we’re a team of 140 people, so we have that awesome startup energy where time-to-market is very important.
We work on really exciting, totally new, game-changing products that challenge industry norms. This kind of work takes creativity, inspiration, and drive. We know that a go-go-go environment leads to lower quality of work (see our Work/Life Balance section below!) and isn’t sustainable. Instead, we allow enough room for us all to breathe and think creatively, with a pace still fast enough to allow us to experiment with interesting ideas and still push out new features that delight our members.
To achieve this, we have 1-2 week agile sprints where we work cross-functionally with other teams to complete a sprint cycle (see the Agile Methodologies section!). We tackle projects iteratively and push code out live faster than the fintech industry norm (around 3-4 weeks).
High Employee Retention
Meet Pradeep, Pandu, and Wil – some of the engineering OGs, who’ve been here as early as 2009, when Credit Sesame was founded!
Why have they (and others) stayed so long? Simple: The essence of our mission and vision are still the same as when we first started out in 2009. We haven’t pivoted or changed business models, and we’ve never followed any short-lived trends. We’ve just tailored and refined the original mission and vision. As one of our engineers said, “It feels like you’re on a ship that’s sailing to a certain port, not just adrift in the middle of the ocean!”
As a company, and within the engineering department, we’re a listening organization – a grassroots organization where ideas are welcome – and where we get teammates involved to solve interesting and challenging problems. Feedback is very welcome and we believe this empowerment translates to retention, especially since we’re in an environment where management is willing to listen to all ideas and problems are better solved collaboratively.
We believe engineering is both a science and an art, so we try to create room to play around with ideas. Being able to listen to ideas with freedom to operate is important to us, so we like to give our engineers a big sandbox.
This keeps the work interesting and exciting and makes our teammates want to stay here. We’re empowered to suggest and bring newer technologies into the mix. We’re nimble enough to use different tools – we aren’t bound by legacy tools that may not be the right ones for a given task. Our teammates have agency and an abundance of opportunities to learn and grow.
Committed to Personal Growth
We’re curious, motivated individuals and we prioritize training and opportunities for continued learning and professional growth.
For instance, we send teammates to workshops and conferences on a fairly regular basis – we’ve even sent people to Istanbul, Vegas (see photo below), and more. We also source experts or outside consultants to help us internally with best practices. For example, we’ve engaged with Amazon and Elasticsearch and have invited experts to lead seminars and give us recommendations. During these sessions, everyone on the team is invited, everyone can ask questions, and everyone views the opportunity as open time to get expert consultation. It’s an opportunity to get our work vetted externally, and every teammate can personally engage with industry experts.
To foster personal growth and mentor effectively, we encourage managers to have 1-on-1s with their directs that focus on three parts:
How can the manager help them avoid roadblocks in their current role?
What are the teammate’s professional goals?
What does the teammate want to do this year and next year?
By understanding what each individual wants in terms of their career progression, we can give them opportunities on-the-job.
Every engineer works with at least one analyst.
We love experimentation and letting the data tell us what our members like best. This allows us to quickly ideate, brainstorm hypotheses, and see how our members (end-users) respond. We use Mixpanel and Optimizely to do continuous A/B testing and every decision we make is based on data derived from controlled experiments.
As a result, we work very closely with the Analytics Department. While each team is responsible for deriving analytics and making decisions based on their data, it’s our policy that everyone has access to all analytics at Credit Sesame.
We look at data like click-through rates, how many members are completing a particular funnel, and see what resonates with our members. Before we start any experiment, we have strict guidelines around defining success criteria.
Even internally within our department, we use other data-driven metrics to make decisions. While the product team focuses on the business value, the engineering department considers metrics like tickets resolved, tickets completed in our sprint backlog, and other productivity metrics. This helps us improve our turnaround time for tickets and tells us how many tickets we can take on over the course of a week. Everything gets evaluated during sprint retrospectives.
Note: This is not a stock photo – it’s just us doing our thing :)
Uses Agile Methodologies
Our engineering teams frequently use scrum.
Every engineering team has their sprint planning every 2 weeks. During these planning sessions, the product, engineering, and analytics teams look at the backlog and determine prioritization and focus areas depending on current needs.
Every day, we scrum for 10-20 minutes to touch base on where we’re at within the sprint. We keep these feedback loops short so no one is blocked, and we divide our work into small, 2-person scrum teams. We follow our sprints with a retro every 2 or 4 sprints to recap our work. While there is no official scrum master, someone plays this role for each sprint.
We also work hard to get new hires up to speed quickly, and most end up contributing to the code base within 2-3 weeks. Within 45 days, they can usually start looking at recent tickets.
For instance, here’s how it might look when we onboard engineers:
First, we provide our new hires with training that covers the workflow: where they get tickets, what our stages mean, how we consider an engineer’s job to be complete, how we hand off code to production, and so forth. After they finish this training and any HR-related work, new hires meet with the heads of each engineering sub-team to get a sense of the teams within our engineering organization. The last step is to work directly with their new manager to do a deeper dive into the specifics of their work environment, architecture, and business flows.
Once we onboard a new hire, we ease them into their work by giving them low-complexity tickets and slowly increase the complexity over time.
Likely the most important training covers the credit landscape. We don’t expect our engineers to come in with credit or financial literacy – we teach the terminology and key points they need to know to serve our members well. If they have the skills needed to do the job, and the passion to improve lives through improved credit, we can help bridge any knowledge gaps about the credit space!
Work hard and stay balanced.
We’ve been around for over a decade. Part of wellness is ensuring that we give our teammates the support and flexibility to take care of themselves, especially when we’re working hard. We have core hours when we’re available to collaborate with each other, but we don’t have fixed work hours. Creating the best products out there means we have to take care of ourselves and each other.
During crunch times, we’ll sometimes put in 50 hour-, or even 60 hour-weeks, but these are the exceptions. We offer flexibility around when people work (though we try to overlap with the working hours of our engineering team in Lima, Peru) and do our best to protect weekends and weeknights. We also fully support working from home as needed.
We’ve been working hard for the last year to build our newest product, Sesame Cash, which launched in March, 2020. Sesame Cash (along with several other features we haven’t yet launched) will help millions of people to effectively manage and optimize their credit and cash, and ultimately, reach financial stability. With Sesame Cash, the future of Credit Sesame has never been more clear and we’ve never felt more motivated to realize our mission of providing financial wellness to all.
We have a monthly engineering All-hands meeting as well as a monthly engineering mixer where we acknowledge and celebrate our teammates’ accomplishments and get to know them outside of work. Some of us are musicians, some are surfers, and some are regular attendees at ComicCon or Burning Man. While we don’t expect team members to socialize outside of work, we think it says something about our culture that many of us do so anyway! We offer healthy catered meals at both of our Mountain View and San Francisco offices every day and also provide fully paid family leave: 12 weeks for maternity and 8 weeks for paternity.
In addition to 10 paid holidays, we have an Open PTO policy, which means there’s no specific amount of vacation time. Our teammates take the time off they need to stay happy, healthy, and productive at work.
Outside of our data teams, our engineering teams use Java, JBoss, CDI/Spring, Freemarker, Jquery, Knockout, SpringBoot, Redis Kinesis, and Docker. Our Data Engineering team uses Groovy, Redshift, AWS Data Pipeline, AWS Lambda, Cassandra, AWS, Elastic, Beanstalk, Python, and Docker. Our Data Science team uses Python, Jupyter Notebook, SciKitLearn, Redshift, and Docker.
The first step in our interview process is to apply! You can do so here.
After that, we’ll reach out to you if there’s a fit to schedule a phone call to learn more about your background and your interest in Credit Sesame. Then there’s a hiring manager phone call, followed by an in-person onsite meeting to get to know you and more deeply understand your interest in and qualifications for the position.