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September 21, 2022
What makes Mercury special? An interview with Veronica Pohls, VP of People
We have many reasons to celebrate this year. In addition to entering the corporate credit card space with the launch of IO and building out our Capital infrastructure to offer Mercury Venture Debt, we also welcomed over 150 new members to our team. At Mercury, one of our core tenets is appreciating quality. This starts with our product and the tools we use but extends to our company culture and the type of people we hire. That’s why we’re honored to be recognized by Fortune Magazine and Great Place to Work US as one of the best places to work: #7 in the Bay Area, #18 in tech, #22 for Millennials, and #30 among medium-sized companies.
Ask a Mercurian to explain the most “on-brand” thing about Mercury and they might tell you about the original raps we’ve written to celebrate promotions, how we design custom Slack emojis (or “callsigns”) to capture the auras of each and every employee — or, how we recently organized an Olympic-themed company-wide retreat, where we had the excuse to meet one other in person and drum up some friendly competition.
Being able to dynamically scale our company culture has been challenging, but it’s always been part of the plan. To help answer the question of what makes Mercury so special, we decided to ask someone who’s been here to shape our culture since the very beginning: our VP of People and employee #12, Veronica Pohls.
Q: Please introduce yourself!
A: Hi! I’m Veronica and I am the VP of People and lead the HR and Recruiting teams at Mercury. I joined back in 2019 as the 12th employee, and have since seen a lot of growth to now over 350 folks across multiple countries.
Q: How has Mercury’s culture evolved since you joined in 2019?
A: I am often surprised by how much of what makes our culture feel special and unique has actually deepened and become more intentional as we’ve grown. Things like the level of transparency and autonomy we give each Mercury employee, but also things like the sense of humor and connectedness we share are still so tangible despite the team being much larger and primarily remote.
The realm of what we could possibly do as a company has also expanded so much. When I first joined, I remember we put together headcount projections that had us at about 100 employees a year out and none of us could possibly fathom what 100 people could work on. Now that we are 350 people, I think we all could easily imagine what 1,000 people could be doing — the possibilities have become more abundant and somehow also more within reach.
Q: How do you balance culture and growth?
A: We’ve grown a lot in the last three years and it’s really helped that we haven’t been too rigid about preserving a specific culture but instead have embraced the idea that our culture is a dynamic thing.
We’ve also found that if you make a commitment to never compromise on hiring great people, scaling your culture through hyper-growth becomes a lot easier. When we interview candidates, we spend a substantial portion of the conversations really trying to understand what their values are, what their character is, and what they’re passionate about. Because of this, the people we have hired have brought so many new dimensions to Mercury’s culture, but we’ve never wavered from preserving the core of what makes Mercury, Mercury.
Q: What are the best attributes of the people that work at Mercury?
A: The first thing that comes to mind is actually one of our core values: helpfulness. And not just in the way that people are willing to lend a helping hand or go out of their way for one another, but also in the way that people really want to make things better for the people around them.
Another thing is the insane array of hobbies and passions that our team has. We are really intentional about building a company where everyone is excited about thinking deeply. People at Mercury are intrinsically curious — which is great in a work context because people love to go deep on complex problems and build really magical things — but it also means we are surrounded by really interesting people who you can learn from. We even have a big internal event each year dedicated to showcasing the passions and interests of our team – it’s like TED Talks for and by employees. The range of topics is pretty wild — anything from mass spectrometry to compositions in art. It’s always a big hit.
Q: What makes Mercury special?
A: Something that has always really stood out to me about Mercury is the level of internal transparency at the company. We share information openly with everyone at the company and it goes a long way in aligning everyone on how we are doing as a company, what is important to us, and what we need to focus more resources on.
Another thing that I haven’t experienced anywhere else is our commitment to doing things in a unique or unconventional way. So much so that our entire brand is centered around making defying expectations a habit. This applies most obviously to our product, where we go out of our way to build in these unexpected and magical moments — but it also applies to our culture.
We don’t just try to replicate what another company has successfully done. We work really hard to craft internal operations and processes that feel tailored to Mercury. One of my favorite recent examples is how our internal ops team turned our annual company-wide offsite into an Olympics-themed event called Mercury Summer Games. There were two weeks of Mercury-specific events for employees to compete in, both virtually and in person at an offsite in Austin, and they even built a custom mobile app to track each team’s medal standings. Another example is our tradition of giving each new hire a custom callsign after starting at Mercury — it’s something small that has become a big part of our culture.
Q: When your friends ask you about working at Mercury, what is the one thing you usually tell them?
A: That it never feels boring or stagnant. Because of our growth, Mercury feels like a new company every 3–6 months, with bigger and increasingly more complex challenges. It’s been an absolute blast.
At Mercury, we believe that the products we build are uniquely defined by the people that build them — and we’re always looking for new perspectives. Want to grow with us? Check out our open roles.