Sergiu Negut (Co-Founder, Chief Strategy Officer & SVP of People and Corporate Operations, Bucharest)
What is something unexpected about Sergiu?
People who don’t know me well might not know that for me, it is really about the pursuit of peace between heart and mind. Some people have only seen the mind part, and they’ll I’m only concerned about finance and raising money and paying attention to costs and making sure that this part of the business is perfect, and so on. Other people focus on my softer side and would say, okay he’s more about how we work together, more on the people as opposed to the business practicalities.
But I don’t believe that there should be any kind of conflict between the two.
The key is balance, and that’s something that I’ve pursued for a long time because it is something that I think is present in every great business. And it’s something I want FintechOS to have. In my mind, a great business should have these two areas completely coherent and fully aligned. To be successful, there is definitely a place for numbers, and money, and how we develop our strategic competitive advantage, but at the same time, it’s also quite important that we have respect and compassion for each other and our customers, and that we understand how to treat the people around us in an empathetic way, in a way that can make the world better. I think all the companies that have managed to balance these two dimensions of a business are thriving.
So that’s me. It depends on how and where you get the first glimpse of me, and then when you see the other side, you may be surprised.
What was the ambition for FintechOS?
For me, ambition is something that is like fata morgana. It’s floating in the air and you’re following it and you never grasp it. It’s a moving target. So, while you may have an immediate goal, there is always this thing that is half-vision and half-hallucination hovering in the horizon.
I would say that when we conceived FintechOS, the immediate goal was to make a company that would be valued at more than 10 million. So, in the very early days, I got a bottle of wine with Teo — I don’t even remember which wine, but we agreed it was good wine — and we told each other we would drink this bottle when the company reached 10 million in valuation. Funnily enough, we got to drink that bottle when we already had maybe 50 or 70 million in valuation, because things moved so fast afterwards and there was no such benchmark as a 10 million valuation that we ever crossed.
Yes, we reached our goal, but of course, now we’ve expanded on that, and we’ve re-assessed where the future finish line might be. Like I’ve said, it is a moving target, and it’s not necessarily measurable, because, ultimately, what we really want to achieve is the creation of something that changes people lives by building a technology that changes the way financial services are constructed – and there is just so much potential in that proposition.
What do you want your employees to stand for?
I have I have three answers to that.
First, which I think is the most important thing, is that I want our people to be able to stand for themselves and be authentic. I don’t want them to pretend to be what they’re not. I don’t believe in “fake it till you make it”. I want our employees to accept themselves and build up on the strengths that they have. None of us are perfect, and we all have different strengths and weaknesses, and we have different opportunities. I think it’s important to know ourselves and to embrace who we are and to work with that in an authentic way and in a way that stands for something. Embrace your dreams, embrace your aspirations, embrace your values, and be yourself.
Second, I want us to work on creating a set of values that can bring us together and make us work better together. Becoming better together allows us to create a more powerful tribe, which in turn allows us to build a more powerful business. Becoming more respectable to others and respected among ourselves is something worth standing for.
And third, I want us to always remember that we’re going to build something here that is greater than us. It’s a fantastic opportunity, and our ambition is great, so of course it’s not going to be easy. You have to be aggressive. You have to have the passion, the grit, the courage, and the inner driving force to accept that our goal is larger than average. But while we’re trying to set the world on fire, we also have to remember to do everything in a humane, compassionate, and understanding way. It is part of our responsibility to find the space between, to find our balance. And that’s something I want our employees to have.
And our last question, what is your favourite work of fiction?
I’m a big, big, big consumer of science fiction. I think Dune is absolutely fantastic, and I even like the new movie. I like the whole world that is being built there, an absolutely huge landscape of imagination.
Of course, it we’re talking about big sci-fi monsters, I also like Asimov, but I’m not specifically talking about “The Foundation”. There is a rather small novel by him that I liked a lot because it’s about the destiny of people. It’s called “Gods Themselves”. It actually challenged me in interesting ways. I also like LeGuin, I like “Left Hand of Darkness” quite a lot.
The funny thing is I also like cartoons. I’m a fan of Shrek and Kung Fu panda and Guardians of the Galaxy, so you know, I like the fun stuff also.
I think fiction, for me, is a great space to let creativity and imagination really run free, and it’s a good mental exercise to let your mind explore possibilities.