Meet Gabriele Roncoroni, TransferGo’s Design Director. Joining our senior team in July 2019, Gabriele is responsible for the design side of our brand, managing our marketing design team and overseeing all design assets—from landing pages for specific campaigns to global ads and social media visuals.
Born and raised in Monza, Italy (not far from Milan), Gabriele Roncoroni is enjoying an exciting career in design, having worked in both Budapest and San Francisco during his design manager role at Prezi and freelancing throughout both his career and studies in Milan, Turin and Sweden.
Gabriele is currently based in our London office. Here he talks about his love for design, the path that led him here and how communication is key.
“Design has always interested me, but I’ve not always known what it was…
I’ve always been interested in design and materials. I remember going around the shops as a child with my parents, touching objects, looking at the bottom of chairs… you know, little things you’re not aware you’re actually doing. Only in high school did I get to understand what design was. At that time, I had a crappy Windows computer and I remember asking for an iMac because I really wanted to get into something that was nicer looking and better performing. After that, I picked up Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.
As a kid, my friends used to pay me to draw little sketches on their backpacks and I bought a camera with the money I saved. I then started learning Photoshop to fix the photographs that I took with my camera and it naturally pushed me into the design world. I actually wanted to become a photographer but my parents wanted me to get a ‘real’ degree, so I compromised on design. My degrees were in service and strategic design, which means connecting the development of touch points and the physical parts of a service to the economical and strategic sides—so implementing business strategies, learning about finances etc. That was instrumental in bringing me to Hungary, where I started working for Prezi, which specialise in presentation software.”
“Prezi introduced me to the world of graphic design and brand design…
I worked for a design team called Evangelism at Prezi, creating presentations for stages such as Dreamforce, TED and SXSW. After that, I became a manager for another team in the same company. I was managing 8 different designers and our goal was to create presentations for our sales team and clients. We were creating templates and presentations, essentially creating sub brands related to how presentations were defined for different companies including BMW, Sony and Airbus. Basically, our team was dedicated to creating internal assets to help companies build their brands around presentations.
Throughout this time, I also worked freelance—again, most of the work was related to graphic and brand design, helping small companies to set up their brand. After that, I moved to London for my role at TransferGo.”
“London’s been great from the beginning; I felt like I had to make more of an effort in Hungary…
My design degrees were taught in English, which not only helped me learn the language, but also made me aware of other nationalities because I was studying with people from China, Africa, Venezuela and so forth. When I lived in Hungary, I felt like the language and culture barriers were stronger and I had to make more of an effort to understand things. I had to rethink things I was taught to do. It’s been much easier to feel a part of London and I don’t really feel like an expat here.
That said, being an expat has been instrumental whilst working at TransferGo because we essentially serve expats and migrants. We help people who need to adjust to their environments. So being able to empathise with that has made my role easier. I really enjoy doing what I do and helping our customers because I understand what they’re thinking and living. However, I’m way more fortunate than some of the people we serve; we have specific countries where our customers’ work is all about supporting their families. When I was sending money, I didn’t have to help a struggling family, I was sending money to another bank account I had. So I also have to make an effort to understand their situations as much as I can. I don’t want to make the mistake of stereotyping and making assumptions.”
“Working in fintech was challenging to start with, but TransferGo offers an interesting environment to work in…
As well as overseeing the design team’s creations and progression, I sit in many meetings and facilitate processes, brainstorming with copywriters and growth managers on how to do certain things and introduce design to certain tasks. In the past, I used to change projects and brands often. I’d have around two or three brands to take care of in one month. But now, I focus on one and it brings a lot more responsibility. You have to think twice before making any decision.
There’s also a lot of strategy behind it that I find interesting. I love working and designing stuff with a backup of data on top. It’s not just about making designs out of personal opinions. We have numbers and objective reasons for making a decision, using them to support whatever we come up with. Even little things like photography—there’s always a decision behind everything and sometimes you have to teach that. TransferGo has provided an environment where I can spread my design knowledge to people that weren’t necessarily aware of it, or who didn’t feel like it was important.”
“I see us as facilitators and digital helpers; we do what we do for people that need help…
Despite the fact that we handle money—which in most cases can be seen as hell on earth—the mission we have and the people we want to serve has a nicer impact. Yes, we handle money but we do it for people that really need help. We’re not just a team that makes business out of their situations. And I value that. I consider it ethically good; I would never work for a company with an ethic against mine.
In terms of our own company values, I really like the idea of the ‘Be your best’ value. I really thrive when I can challenge myself and come up with goals for myself. And there are situations where I can test my limit. Without a goal, I can’t come up with idea. I’m not a person that just comes up with things because I feel it.”
“For inspiration, I look at great brands that are making a great impact…
I tend to avoid all the direct competitors when looking for inspiration—of course, I look at what they’re doing because we need to know what’s happening, but otherwise I go the opposite way for inspiration. I look at brands I like such as AirBnb and Uber. And brands that relate to us in terms of our design principles—so ‘helpful’, ‘human’, ‘direct’ and ‘friendly’. It doesn’t necessarily matter what field they work in if they’re providing great design examples in their landing pages.
I’m proud of what we’ve done with the brand. When I started, there’d been seven years of multi-layer complexities from other designers doing different things and this was very visible across our channels. We’ve now created a single direction and guidelines that our designers can use and make their own choices. Because they own it and they know what they’re doing at every point.
I’m also really proud of the work we did on the India campaign and its multi-channel outcome. From the buses to the radio and TV—it was really interesting to think about ad creatives that had to adjust to all these channels.”
“Communication is key to coming up with good design…
Without communication, people are driven by personal taste or personal knowledge of specific skills. So we’ve set up a Slack channel for our team, where the guys share their work internally for feedback. I tend to let the other guys answer first. Then, they can learn from what others are working on, and also how to structure their thoughts around what works and what doesn’t. It’s critical for any designer to objectively evaluate any piece, not just their own. And this will also help them in the long run because they’re then able to justify their decisions and critique their own work.
On top of that, there’s a lot of friendly communication. As a result of Covid, we’re now missing the chat at the water cooler and coffee machine—that informal approach where you’re speaking with a copywriter or another designer and come up with the real business. In person, you can let your mind wander, play around with things, make jokes and find the idea together. No brain is set up to properly come up with an idea in a scheduled 30-minute meeting.
That said, we were lucky that a lot of the business was already set up to be remote pre-Covid. And when I joined, I asked for certain softwares like Miro and Honey, which has made the sharing of information easier. They function as alternatives to things that require physicality so those tools are very helpful. But being without physicality also means we have to dilute the creative process; we have to make sure we have the time to think and iterate on the work before it’s considered valuable. There’s not that back-and-forth dynamic, which would naturally happen in an office.”
“One of the most challenging things is the clashing of skills, knowledge and locations…
We’re currently still developing and testing the brand. And we’re also focussing on introducing new talent to the company. This brings the specific challenge of allowing brand and design to meet to ensure a valuable user experience—which so far hasn’t been its best. There’s always a marketing and product clash, and our website can definitely still be improved. Some pages are still broken and it’s time for us to make it into one big piece that makes sense. I’m really looking forward to seeing where we can go with that.
But most of all, I’m so pleased that there are so many different nationalities at work. I’m happy that TransferGo has a multicultural workforce. Diversity is really important—and not just in terms of nationalities. I’m really proud of the guys I’m working with. And they’ve helped me too.”