Meet Edgardo Savoy, our Chief Technology Officer. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Edgardo joined the TransferGo senior team in February. Already he’s made significant progress in shaping our culture with the values he feels passionate about; whilst accelerating our product and strategy to further improve the lives of our customers.
Here, Edgardo Savoy discusses his background in software, the importance of speed, the value of communication and his dream of one day opening up his own restaurant.
“I started as a software developer when I was 14 years old…
I was born in Buenos Aires just over 40 years ago and have been living abroad for the last 10 years. I’ve lived in Munich, Dublin and London, where I moved just over 3 years ago. I now reside in Brighton with my partner and two children.
Professionally, I started as a software developer very young. I was 14 when I sold my first system to a small company that did VHS rentals just around the corner from my parents’ house. It was a small company—kind of like a micro Blockbuster—and they had a couple of shops around Buenos Aires. Basically, they needed a system to keep track of their rentals. I remember feeling really passionate about how to design the database and reporting. They kept coming back for more features; and I was very happy to engage and do free work (although I did charge for the initial product). It was very fun to do and build something from scratch. I found it really interesting.”
“I’ve worked in a few sectors now; from telecommunications and travel to gambling and hospitality…
I was linked to Microsoft very early in my career, doing different things with software and product. I then moved to a few different companies in Buenos Aires, working for Verizon Business before moving to Lastminute.com. Through that job, I moved to Munich to head the technology team and product. After 2 years in Germany, one of my ex bosses then took a role in Dublin for Paddy Power. So I moved there and joined him there for about 4 years, which was a lot of fun.
I then met my partner and we moved to the UK. I first worked again in gambling with the Racing Post and then I took a role with The Restaurant Group as the CIO, which gave me a chance to explore an industry I’m attracted to. Hospitality and the restaurant industry are something I find interesting; it was a big experience for me. What I was doing wasn’t very digital but there was a lot of responsibility: dealing with a public company, shareholders etc. It was a little boring, but still a great learn. I then moved to TransferGo in February 2020.”
“I repeat myself a lot at work. It’s something I’ve learned is very important…
I am the Chief Technology Officer, so I run technology and product alongside user research and user experience. So it’s a bit of a product-technology role. I spent the first couple of months working with Daumantas and his team on our product strategy for customers and working on how the company could deliver more value.
My first two months were very much focussed on working on something for the future and trying to think of things we need to do to essentially win. Now, I probably have an eye on the future whilst also focussing on today, getting my team in the right shape to execute the strategy. A lot of my work has to do with communicating that and repeating myself a lot, which is something I’ve learned is important. I think about these things a lot but that doesn’t mean everyone else is. I don’t want to make that mistake of assuming everyone knows what’s in my head. The strategy can be quite boring and abstract sometimes. Therefore, it’s important to bring it to something they can understand and hopefully be excited about.”
“I really like TransferGo’s ambition and its lack of fear and hesitation…
I have a limited opinion on TransferGo’s office culture as I only really experienced three or four weeks of it before we went into lockdown. But I was fortunate to visit the Vilnius and Kaunas offices. I really like the people. In fact, I love so many things about the company. It’s the first time I’m working at a start-up this size. I’ve helped start-ups before that were very young, but this is a mature start-up with funding and an interesting customer base.
I really like TransferGo’s ambition and its lack of fear and hesitation. There’s analysis and thinking behind every action but there’s a willingness to evolve and move forward, which is interesting and very useful. To me, speed is very important. To be in a place where I don’t feel like I have to push is good. It feels like we’re running together. I can definitely see that in TransferGo’s culture; there are very few things that take a long time. There’s a general appetite to improve, move forward and evolve, which is great. And it happens across all of our offices. There’s also very little bullshit, which is good. It’s refreshing. It’s been great so far; I’m really enjoying it.”
“Speed, learning and relationships are all important to me…
When I first started, I spoke to my team about the values that were important to me. I explained that speed was important and wins over anything. I don’t care about size; being nimble to move quickly beats everything. Learning from our mistakes is also important. And finally, so is the network.
I try to see teams as a network of people. I think the strength of that network depends on how connected they are; how strong those connections are. When somebody starts in my team, I tell them to pay close attention to those relationships. I think relationships dictate the overall health of the network and team. If something’s broken or not properly established, people start assuming things and don’t make the effort to try and connect. In the long term, it slows you down and limits your learning because you don’t have time to talk to the person. Achieving a delicate balance between those three things is important. My ambition is to help the rest of my coworkers do that too.
Our ‘Doing the work that matters’ value particularly resonates with me because it’s the result of having a strong network, moving at a pace and learning. I think our values are spot on and I can see them being reflected in people’s day-to-day actions, which is cool.”
“I’m a big believer in communication; frequent spontaneous conversations are important…
Most of my team is based in Vilnius. Therefore since lockdown, my relationships with my colleagues haven’t really changed as I would normally see them over video. However, we recently had a restructure which meant that some people left the organisation and executing that process over video was difficult. It was important to me to explain the changes and protect people from misunderstandings. And obviously you can’t do that with the same level of humanity as you can face to face. To me it was a massive learning; and despite the fact it was a difficult process, we did it reasonably well.
Day to day operations aren’t as easy as it would be if we were all together. I’m a big believer in communication and just being with people. Frequent conversations are important. As is building enough trust so that you can have spontaneous conversations and almost replicate what it would be like to go over and talk to someone.
I’ve worked in many distributed teams; a lot of the communication pace is set by meetings and I think that’s a problem. I don’t think information happens or decisions are made like that. As humans, we can’t schedule everything. So I think it’s important to have open communication channels so that people can address problems and talk to someone when they need to. It’s better than waiting for a one-to-one or leadership meeting. But I think we’re adapting well.
After a busy day, sometimes the last thing I want to do is have a Zoom call with my friends. A lot of the time that I spend working is time I spent talking. I have very little time to work on my own so it can be quite head-wrecking after a full day. It’s on-on-on all the time.”
“Covid-19 hasn’t massively affected my work, but we’re watching out for its impact…
We did some fantastic reactive work with donations as a way to try and help. It wasn’t led by me, but was enabled by part of my team. But in terms of product and company strategy, we haven’t had to change drastically. We just keep an eye on things. I think Covid-19 will inevitably have an impact on a macro level, so we just need to watch out for that. We stay close to performance and operationally we’re still tracking, but we haven’t had to change much else which is good. I think we’re very lucky in that sense.”
“I’m proud that the team now pushes back when things aren’t moving fast enough…
I think we’re in a very interesting phase at the moment; we have clarity of direction. I also think the team is starting to hopefully fall in love with our vision and is becoming emotionally involved with the journey. I think that’s one of the things I’m most proud of.
I’ve always told my team not to accept slow or think that slow was okay. Because when you start doing that, you get used to it. It’s almost like a slow process where slow becomes the norm and it’s okay to not question things. Now, I’m proud that people push back on me when things aren’t moving fast enough. The fact that we’ve managed to get people to that level of feeling uncomfortable with slow over three months speaks to the quality of the communication we’ve been having. Hopefully, the vision is appealing and they think it’s a good thing.
In terms of product, we’ve now got the groundwork necessary to deliver exciting changes in the next 6-9 months. The team is geared up with the right mindset and a clear vision. And hopefully that’s going to pay off.”
“I remember telling Daumantas that I wanted to change the world…
We’re currently accelerating a lot of things that will bring a lot of value for our customers. When I joined TransferGo, I remember telling Daumantas that I wanted to change the world. And I could see that his vision was aligned with that.
I think there’s a lot of things we can do, not just to make the company successful, but to deliver real value to the customers that we serve, who are people who want to help their family. I think there’s a massive amount of opportunity for us as a company to deliver value that will make life easier for these people. Again, everything that I talk about at work is about the same thing; the products that we’re building will facilitate that. Lots of exciting things are coming soon and fast. Hopefully people are excited about that.”
“My retirement plan? I’d love to open up an Argentinian restaurant…
I don’t know how many people know this, but I do want to try and have a restaurant at some point. My retirement plan is to try my luck in that. It would be small and I’d have to have enough financial security to let it fail (if it has to fail) without starving my family. I’m a decent cook so I could probably do something that I love; and if not make money, at least employ people and do something for the community.”