A year ago this month Oval welcomed Usman to our London office. Law graduate and all around good guy (except when it comes to Pacino), Usman hit the ground running and we’ve never looked back.
Our go to guy for all things risk and compliance, he’s hard working and diligent but still somehow manages to be the easy going guy that makes us feel like every day’s a Friday - even when the pressure is on! Now, one year on, we’re looking forward to getting to know him even better.
Usman's year in numbers
📄 over 600 legal articles read
🍺 over 3,500 beers needed to forget all those legal articles
👨🏫 38 Continuous Professional Development hours logged
👁 2 upcoming roles on the compliance team (keep an eye out!)
👨👦👦 20 max. people managed at once (without crying)
1. What was your idea of Oval before you started?
Having worked for companies with terrible cultures in the past, I was determined to make sure my next employer would be different. Throughout the interview process I was constantly on the lookout for hints as to what the actual culture may be like, as in my experience every company sells a similar image of having ‘amazeballs’ culture where rainbows greet you at the office every morning, but very few live up to this.
Oval seemed like a genuinely pleasant place to work: the ‘general culture’ seemed appealing and the efforts made by Oval to keep everyone happy looked authentic; but more importantly, I could see the ‘personal culture’ was on point. I could see my own work style and personality would fit in well at Oval.
So to answer the actual question, my preconceptions were that Oval was a young company being led by people determined to launch the most intuitive and customer focused App to help people understand the utility in their money. I was expecting to join a group of people who didn’t care too much about the rule book. I was expecting to join a group of people who didn’t care too much about how things are normally done. Most importantly, I was expecting to join a group of people who would have lots of sh*t for me to do.
2. After a year working with us, would you say it was everything you expected it to be?
Well, I’m still here aren’t I? By my own free will. Totally by own own free will. I’m definitely not being held hostage in the Torino office held down to a chair with my arms and legs tied with spaghetti 😂
Everyone has a different working style, and the problem is most employers force everyone to work in the same way. Oval promised me different, and they kept this promise. There are some basic working rules to help everyone stay aligned to deliver the best possible product, so there are meetings and scheduled events which you need to be on time for, but outside of these no one cares if you’re 20 minutes late to the office, or if you leave an hour earlier, or if you take a long lunch. No one asks where you are if you aren’t in your seat all day. As long as you’re contributing to the overall effort, or even asking for help if you’re stuck, and get along with everyone, you are free to work as you wish. Actually that’s a lie, you don’t have to get along with Pacino….you’ll see when you get here.
3. Given you had the chance again would you take the opportunity to work with Oval?
Yes, because in addition to the above, everyone here is really willing to help you grow. As with any workplace, there are ups and downs, but if you discuss your concerns with one of the founders, they actually make efforts to resolve them.
Instead of thinking of the Oval culture as carved in stone, they approach it as the sum of everyone’s personality and try their best to absorb you into the culture, so you genuinely do in some way become part of, and impact the culture.
P.S. We never absorbed Pacino’s personality into the culture. Again, you’ll see if you ever meet him.
4. What is your favourite thing to do outside of work?
Enjoying the sun, which in London keeps me busy for a whopping one day a year!
I’m still figuring out how to spend the other 364 days worth of free time outside of work.
5. What is your favourite drink to order at the bar?
I go through phases of only drinking one thing until I get sick of it, then moving on. I’m currently on Budweiser.
6. If you could go on holiday anywhere in the world where would it be?
Guadeloupe - If they didn’t speak French I would be living there as I write this.
P.S. Adeline that was a harmless joke.
P.P.S. It wasn’t. It totally wasn’t.
7. What is your degree in?
8. What’s your dream job?
Marine biologist. Seriously.
9. What's your biggest fear?
I ain’t scared of nothing. Except cheese and milk.
10. What’s your favourite quote/line from a movie?
“When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk.” Tuco - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
11. What did you want to be growing up?
Handsome. Luckily, I achieved all my goals here.
12. What would you like to be famous for?
I actually would never want to be famous, I think it's a terrible way to live your life having no privacy and having people around you only because of what you offer them, not for who you are.