In the third installment of our “Meet the Monzo US Team”, we talk to Nathan Woo, our new Head of Engineering. Nathan brings a diverse set of engineering experiences to Monzo and has led teams to build, launch, and commercialize high growth products at Uber, Cruise, and Intel.
We’ll be posting new “Meet the Team” articles over the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more interviews with our awesome US team members. And if you’re interested in joining Monzo USA, be sure to check out all of our available listings over at https://monzo.com/usa/careers!
What made you want to join Monzo as its US Head of Engineering?
It’s a unique privilege to lead a world-class engineering team to launch a cutting edge digital banking product. I’m someone who thrives under pressure and uncertainty, so I gravitated towards Monzo US’s early stage startup vibes, where I felt I’d have the freedom to create something that truly felt like my own. The problem space is also incredibly interesting. Money is one of the biggest sources of anxiety, so building a product that helps people manage money can genuinely improve lives.
That, and the opportunity to work with some amazing people were remarkably attractive for me. Prior to joining Monzo, I had the opportunity to meet many of Monzo’s leaders and got a good feel for the culture. I realized that empathy and transparency were core to how people treated each other and weren’t just corporate platitudes slathered on a wall. By the end of the interview process, I knew I wanted to work with the talented, kind, and passionate people of Monzo.
How did you get into engineering?
Pretty randomly. I got really into a video game called BioShock when I was in high school. The game featured “plasmids” — DNA molecules that you inject into your arm to alter your genetic makeup and unlock superpowers. Naturally, I decided that bioengineering was the right college major for me. My dreams were shattered when I realized that bioengineering was still a nascent field and superpower plasmids weren’t going to be a reality anytime soon. I pivoted my studies to mechanical engineering, became a process engineer, and then taught myself how to code and went into software engineering
What have you been working on this week?
Mostly product strategy, planning, and hiring. My job is a combination of figuring out what to build and growing and empowering the engineering team to realize that vision. My first month on the job has been a fantastic whirlwind of collaborating to solve challenging problems, making mistakes, and learning — no two days are the same.
I’ve also been doing some light coding and diving into Monzo’s tech stack, which has proved to be surprisingly mature. We use microservices (mostly written in Go) that run on Kubernetes on EC2, Cassandra for storage, Kafka and NSQ for asynchronous messaging, and BigQuery for data warehousing/analytics — all that augmented with robust internal tooling and platforms. Pretty cool stuff.
What are you looking forward to at Monzo?
I’m looking forward to the day when I go out and see someone pay for their coffee using the Monzo card. Monzo US is still in its early days. We only very recently began building out the US product team, and brand awareness is still relatively low. By iterating rapidly on our product and listening to what our users say and do, we hope to deliver a product that wins the hearts and minds of users and eventually becomes a household name.
What do you like most about your job?
I hate to sound like a broken record, but the people. Everyone on the team is on a mission to create an awesome product that customers love. The enthusiasm is contagious - it’s a beautiful thing when you’re working with friends on something you all care about.
What do you do for fun?
Martial arts and self-defense! I’ve been training in combat sports for the past 20+ years and have experience in Krav Maga, Taekwondo, and Hapkido. I was originally inspired by my love for martial art flicks. Today, combat sports are one of my main channels for self-improvement, stress relief, and creativity.