Employer Spotlight: STACS
Youthful vigour meets years of industry experience at this FinTech startup
STACS is a Singapore FinTech development startup company providing transformative technology for the financial industry. STACS’ complete infrastructure of live technology platforms makes global markets simpler by digitalising assets, documents, and processes using its proprietary STACS Blockchain technology. STACS’ mission is to empower financial institutions to unlock massive value and efficiencies, and discover new opportunities through their technology. In 2021, a key focus for STACS is its green finance and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) technology, GreenSTACS.
STACS workshop in Thailand in January 2020
STACS was incorporated in February 2019, and for a while, people who knew of STACS only knew them in association with the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) Project UBIN, which they are a technology partner of. Now, two years and several renowned global institutional clients later, STACS has successfully built a name for itself in the FinTech space - Most notably, in December 2020, STACS was awarded the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Global FinTech Innovation Challenge Award. Just to prove the point, STACS’ collaboration with Deutsche Bank was announced in a press release on the same day we sat down for a virtual chat with their Executive Director, David, and Operations Director, Joanne. Since then, within the same month, STACS has also announced their partnership with PwC Singapore, its successful award-winning platform implementation with Eastspring Investments and BNP Paribas, as well as having Standard Chartered Singapore former CEO Ray Ferguson come onboard as new Chairman.
While the technology and platforms form the basis of STACS’ business, “the key is actually our people,” Joanne said. STACS, despite being a startup, is led by a team of professionals from big financial institutions, with 20 or more years of experience. The challenge was for these corporate professionals to run the team like a startup, but that seems to be going well so far, with the team’s unified vision to simplify global markets through transformative technology.
Our first SFF event in 2019
Defying conventional roles at STACS
While the more senior employees provide guidance and direction, the younger employees are given the reigns to run the business. STACS provides a nurturing environment for its employees and interns by pairing them with experienced mentors on individual projects. Another interesting thing that interns get to experience at STACS is being the chairperson of their weekly company meetings. In these meetings, the traditional roles don’t hold - sometimes, a member of the senior management may be assigned to take minutes, while an intern chairs the meeting.
Koo Kar Wai, Business Analyst intern of STACS, said: "As an intern, I have been involved in client calls, testing products and systems, writing user documents, researching, conducting product training and demonstrations, and even being chairperson for one of [STACS'] bi-weekly company meetings. I am thankful for their generosity in exposing me to different skill sets and the trust they have in me for doing my best in my responsibilities. It certainly is rare to have an intern teach the seniors of the company, which also makes it an unforgettable memory."
Bonding session with the interns
A team that exercises together, excels together
Maintaining a high level of employee engagement is a central tenet in STACS’ operations. Apart from ensuring that young interns get to hold real responsibilities, STACS has weekly team-wide exercise sessions that boost team morale and promote team bonding, and each intern we spoke with pointed out that the Friday workout sessions were amongst their most favourite activities. Training is also taken seriously at STACS. Every alternate Monday, employees present on learning topics to the rest of the STACS team. Interns also get the opportunity to present, and their mentors help to ensure that they are well-prepared to conduct these training sessions. Ex-research analyst intern, Leonard, recounts one of these presentations as his most memorable experience with the company. “I was given the opportunity to present to the company of over 20 people an in-depth research on green bonds and how we can use blockchain to disrupt and improve on the current processes involved in the industry. This was an opportunity that is not often given at other places. [At STACS,] there are many such opportunities given to prove yourself."
Our weekly Friday exercise!
David Teo, Executive Director of STACS, said: “Interns are here for a few months, but we look at them with the end goal of converting them to full-timers. That is why we put effort and thought into training and developing them for greater responsibilities."
Pushing boundaries to do what nobody has done before
When it comes to the team’s values, teamwork and integrity are two that the leadership at STACS holds dear. The team also champions the principle of “think big, execute small”, focusing on the small, incremental things that can be done straight away, which can have an impact on the bigger picture later on. Another common theme that came up was pushing boundaries and reaching for what seems impossible. Drawing reference to the breaking of the 4-minute mile, STACS also encourages employees to push themselves to overcome the barriers of conventional thinking.
Soo Han Son, ex-intern of STACS, said: “My mentor allowed me to really explore my interests to learn and grow through the project, especially in software development and data science. Every day I was learning new things and despite many moments of struggles, with guidance I was able to make progress and deliver something tangible to the company at the end of the internship."
Although STACS is new to the Global Ready Talent Programme (GRT), it is excited to work with the educational institutions to groom more young talents in the FinTech industry.
Published February 2021
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