Entering a New Industry: An Interview with Amélie Li Yim at gini
For those of you who are financially savvy, you’re likely to be familiar with one of Asia’s leading personal financial apps — gini. Founded by CEO Ray Wyand, gini was Hong Kong’s first independent personal finance app. Today, the app has won several awards and helps more than 65,000 users manage their money with ease. gini is now pivoting their focus to providing data solutions that help banks improve their digital services.
It’s easy to see why landing a new career at gini would be an exciting transition for anyone. The fun, international team brings a diverse range of backgrounds and skill-sets that constantly evolve along with the company. One example of how gini looks at the person, not just the profile of the candidate they are hiring, is Product Manager Amelie Li Yim’s journey.
I think we can all agree that for most people, the prospect of entering a new field is a daunting one. However, Amelie is evidence it could be your best decision yet after she successfully embarked upon a new career path with gini. Below, she gives us some insight into how gini’s culture and flexibility allowed her to do this, and she might just give you the courage to step outside of your comfort zone too!
So Amelie, how did your journey at gini begin?
After graduating with a biomedical degree and some stem cell research experience, I was looking for a job in the IT sector, because I didn’t want to pursue a research career, and my parents, who are in IT, said the sector has lots of opportunities for me to try different things.
Before gini, I worked in a SaaS startup where I wore multiple hats depending on the company’s needs. My daily routine was made up of a multitude of tasks including accounting, recruitment, as well as making sure there were enough snacks in the office (very important!).
I was eager to get more hands-on experience in product management, but there wasn’t much opportunity for me to do that there. So, I decided to look for a new challenge, which led me to gini.
I tried gini’s personal finance app, even though I’m someone who relies on spreadsheets rather than apps to keep track of my finances. But I was very curious about how the app worked, and the idea of managing an app that automated what I do with spreadsheets intrigued me enough to want to apply.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when it came to transitioning between careers?
The biggest challenge for me was convincing people I could get the job done, without having much “evidence” to back up my claim.
Both of the jobs I’ve had are in different fields, and unrelated to my degree. In both instances, I had to convince the hiring manager to give me a chance to prove myself. I played the numbers game: all I needed was one “yes”, so I spoke to as many hiring managers as possible to increase my chances. I am happy to say that gini was one of those “yeses”.
Leaving academic research for tech was definitely stepping out of my comfort zone. I didn’t have a high level of knowledge or experience, but what I did have was a keen interest and a willingness to learn.
How has gini helped to facilitate your career transition?
Aside from the fact that gini took a leap of faith and hired someone with little experience to manage the app, I think the company culture and the friendly team definitely created an optimal learning environment for me. Whenever I didn’t understand something, like branching models or how certain algorithms work, one of the engineers would take time out of their day to sit with me and go over it to help me understand.
The working environment at gini is very open and encouraging, which made me feel comfortable to explore all sides of product management and take ownership of certain parts of the app. In fact, my role at gini has changed since I’ve been here, as we continue to create new solutions.
A testament to the open, encouraging culture here is the fact that many people in our team come from different backgrounds. Our general manager came from a background in music, and our community manager is an artist. But now they’re crushing it in the fintech sector. It just goes to show that at gini, we value attitude and determination over directly related experience.
How would you describe the company culture at gini?
The gini company culture is very collaborative and is always changing for the better. I think our co-founders Ray and Victor have done a great job in creating an environment where everybody can contribute. The management team is always open to hear our suggestions, and give us the freedom to make the changes we want to see happen. With a team as culturally diverse as ours, I see openness and acceptance at the heart of it all. We’re all a little weird in our own ways, but instead of hiding it, we celebrate it!
We also do a lot of gaming.
What sets gini apart from other financial services?
I think our team and company culture is what sets us apart, which is reflected in our app. gini built Hong Kong’s first personal finance management app. That was quite an accomplishment, given the total lack of infrastructure for this kind of app at the time. The team is pioneering and tenacious, but also very flexible. Things change all the time and we need to reorganize ourselves quickly to respond. I think gini is different from other financial firms because we’re not stuck in our ways. If something needs to change, we’ll change it — quickly.
What has been a highlight for you working at gini so far?
I might sound like a broken record, but the highlight of working at gini is the company culture. I have experienced a few different working environments over the years, but gini definitely has the most unique company culture, where cultural diversity fuels openness. There are 13 nationalities represented in what is currently a 17-strong team.
Another highlight was rolling out the Smart Sheet feature in the app, a project that I took ownership of. We made it possible for app users to sync their financial data with a Google Sheet so they could analyse it in their own way. It’s a rare privilege to be able to develop a feature specifically for people like me, who love to track our finances with spreadsheets!
What gets you excited about the future of gini?
I’m excited to see what the team can build together and how our solutions can improve people’s lives and make a bigger impact. As well as developing a personal finance app that helps thousands of users manage their money with ease, we’re now rolling out our technology for other financial institutions to use, so their customers can benefit from a better digital finance experience, too. I feel like we’re the dream team: we can overcome every problem or obstacle together.
For candidates interested in a position with your company, what advice would you give to them?
My advice is pretty basic: be prepared, on time and authentic. If you’re coming for an interview, make sure you already know what gini is up to. Give our app a try beforehand. And come prepared with questions that will help you decide if gini is the right fit for you because it’s always a two-way decision.
Pro tip: What we look for in candidates is enthusiasm (demonstrate a willingness and ability to learn), proactivity (instead of waiting to be told what to do, start something and get everyone onboard), flexibility (be willing to change and try new things) and ambition (make your voice heard, take the lead and help drive the company forward).
How would you describe gini in 5 words?
If you’re feeling inspired after reading about Amelie’s journey and are ready to do whatever it takes to kickstart your dream career, make sure to check out more blogs, videos, and podcasts from gini on Happyer — the modern job platform for millennials and GenZ.
Gini is always looking for ‘people who know their stuff and know their worth’ to join their ever-expanding family. Perhaps, like Amelie, you don’t have the traditional career experience associated with a role but have the passion, initiative, and drive to make your mark. Why not follow Amelie’s lead and get applying to prove you’ve got what it takes to be a part of this innovative team?