Volopay started with a team of 20 individuals committed to a mission of reshaping corporate finance. Today, this team is 150+ strong and continues to grow as it expands into new countries, following its Series-A funding earlier this year. Volopay is now known for its powerful spend management platform that gives modern businesses unparalleled control over their spending. Yet, while its product has evolved considerably, the company has never forgotten its roots. Keenly aware its most valued asset is its people, Volopay’s leadership has made heavy strides to foster a unique culture that empowers its employees.
It’s a culture built upon freedom, trust, and responsibility that values individuals and ensures no barriers exist to prevent collaboration. Despite the challenges with growth, particularly in new markets, these founding principles allowed Volopay to create an inclusive environment even for its remote teams. As a result, Volopay’s story is a shining example of how a company succeeds when it invests in its most important asset – its people. Speaking to Arteculate, CEO of Volopay, Rajith Shaji shared an inside look into the company’s culture that’s working towards reshaping corporate finance and empowering global businesses.
The foundation of Volopay’s unique culture
Volopay’s work culture carefully straddles the line between a fast-paced startup and the traditional conventions of a corporate. Hence, Rajith expresses, “It’s hard to define our culture. Our solutions have never been templated, so neither is our culture. Instead, we build and stitch our culture with every growing team, learning lessons from different parts of different industries. In this manner, we’ve created a unique culture for our Volopeers.”
This combination came about naturally as the team grew in size and diversity, not just in backgrounds but in experiences, skills, opinions, and principles. What brings this diverse team together is a shared mission to solve the problem of how corporations inefficiently manage their money. This belief unites the different individuals across Volopay, contributing towards a common goal. Hence, Rajith states, “Defining our culture in ‘one’ distinct way would be a disservice to the way each employee’s development and contribution is handled. But we follow certain guidelines in our approach to building our culture.”
Freedom, trust, and responsibility to care for each other
It starts with trust – between employees and the leadership where “both take care of each other and get their work done.” Each employee has freedom when working on projects and is responsible for delivering results on time. In other words, everyone is empowered to take ownership of their tasks or even an entire company’s contribution. “Most importantly, we remain true to who we are. Everything is tertiary and continues to grow and mold as we expand,” Rajith. Thus, one can say that the three founding pillars of Volopay’s culture are freedom, trust, and responsibility, upon which every other initiative stands to empower its employees.
Collaborative and supportive leadership without titles
A core belief across Volopay is that actions speak louder than words. It celebrates those who proactively take action to resolve situations. This sentiment stems from having a unified vision, which gives everyone clarity on their respective roles in the team. However, if a teammate is in need, there’s no hesitation to step out of defined job descriptions. “When we see someone struggle, we don’t re-check our job description. Instead, we jump, join them and become one. Winners create other winners, and that’s how the company ultimately wins,” expresses Rajith.
This strong sense of leadership and collaboration stems from valuing individuals. Hence, employees are encouraged never to suppress their personalities. Moreover, in a culture where diversity is celebrated, teammates and customers are treated with sincerity, respect, and kindness. Thereby, these efforts foster a healthy environment where everyone truly enjoys working. “As leaders, we celebrate all our differences,” stated Rajith.
A glass door policy – Ensuring everyone’s ideas are heard
Volopay maintains a glass door policy, where no barriers prevent vertical, horizontal, or diagonal communication. This policy aims to create a safe environment where anyone in the team can discuss any idea they may have. “We recognize that our employees are multi-faceted humans with much to say.” Hence, employees at all levels are encouraged to volunteer their time, ideas, and effort in a way that helps them and the group. Highlighting the benefits of such a policy, Rajith stated, “If anything, some of our most innovative ventures have been products of cross collaborations and the bravery to share your ideas. And these are conversations we engage in aside from non-work-related topics.”
Flexibility for individual work-life balance that works
Employers and employees have universally acknowledged the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. However, what constitutes a healthy work-life balance varies depending on the individual. Sharing his views, Rajith shared, “Work-life balance is an extremely subjective concept — but at the same time, it’s very crucial to protect the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of our teams. Rigidly defining this balance would only alienate those who find comfort and joy in their work. At the same time, enforcing the added effort and rewarding that kind of effort solely can put a lot of pressure on employees who have families, studies, or lead independent lives outside of the office.”
Thus, by acknowledging the different individual backgrounds of its employees, Volopay adopts a flexible approach to helping them establish a work-life balance. Although there are certain hours everyone’s required to work, they’re empowered to make independent decisions on this. Particularly given its workforce is spread across different timezones, this independence allows everyone to set realistic, healthy working hours depending on their location. Alongside this, Volopay also works towards fostering communicative and three-dimensional work relationships. Thereby ensuring its employees feel less lonely (particularly those working remotely) and more comfortable sharing ideas.
An evolving culture within a fast-growing company
Volopay originally started with a small team and grew rapidly in 10 months. As the company expands across APAC and MENA, its team is expanding again to serve an even larger, diverse customer base. As an organization evolves into new stages of growth, its culture also transforms. Ensuring this change goes smoothly is no easy task, but thankfully for Volopay, it already had a strong foundation to build on. “Having a global team always brings in challenges. But what sets us apart from the others is that we value each and every individual as they are,” states Rajith.
With this philosophy of valuing individuals, Volopay strives to give equal opportunities to all its employees, including those working remotely, while keeping them engaged. It aims to create an inclusive environment where people can work and grow together towards a common goal. Optimistic of their progress with a global team thus far, Rajith shared, “We still have challenges to face, and we believe in transparency. Nothing in this world is perfect. So we as a team are open to learning and adapting to overcome our challenges and maintain a positive work culture.”
How a positive culture creates innovative products
Positive work culture is a foundation for any business to ensure it has strong teams that can build products that meet the needs of its customers. In such cultures, teams work together with a growth mindset toward building great products that deliver positive experiences. As a result, such organizations can ensure their products consistently meet the needs of their customers. Volopay is another shining example that serves to prove this theory.
The company’s unique culture that values individuals allowed it to create a positive environment for its teams. A byproduct of this environment is positive long-term relationships with its clients that strongly believe in Volopay’s products. It’s these relationships that have allowed Volopay to grow so rapidly and accelerate its progress on the mission to empower modern businesses. “At the end of the day, we’re all working towards a common goal, which is a bit like our north star. And it guides all our actions, even if they are different paths and approaches — all towards the same destination,” conveyed Rajith.
Lessons from Volopay on building a positive culture
Every company hopes to have a positive work culture. Yet, only a handful of these businesses could say they succeeded, especially with a global workforce. It’s a challenging and evolving task to build an inclusive environment where every employee feels valued. Nevertheless, every company conquered this challenge has witnessed exponential growth and success. Volopay is another shining example of this phenomenon – when a business invests in its people; everything else falls into place.
Reflecting on their journey thus far and offering a lesson for other corporate leaders, Rajith shared, “For any company focusing on building a positive culture, they must align their business strategy with the people strategy. The team should be happy, have ownership and freedom to work on projects, and communicate effectively with the team and external stakeholders.” Additionally, an organization should be transparent to stand united and deliver positive client experiences. But the most critical lessons Volopay offers are some of the most basic tenets of humanity, which Rajith reminded, “Make more effort to be more compassionate. When you trust and inspire your people, they will go above and beyond what is expected.”