Head of UK at Gemini crypto exchange: We recruit for mindset
Point to a crypto firm that's not hiring, and you've probably unearthed a crypto firm that's honing its strategy and will announce a recruitment push tomorrow. Crypto players were the big hirers of 2021, and 2022 looks no different.
Cryptocurrency exchange Gemini is among those in the market for talent. Gemini opened a UK office in October 2020. It now employs 30 people in the country and Blair Halliday, head of the UK business, says it's hiring "pretty heavily" this year.
Rival crypto exchange Coinbase says it's hiring 6,000 people in 2022. Gemini, which is privately owned by the Winklevoss twins, is less transparent but is currently advertising around 100 jobs globally, of which nearly a third are in software engineering. "We're not going to say that we need thousands of people, but we want to grow the business," says Halliday, adding that "engineering is an area of focus."
Halliday's own background is in compliance. He joined Gemini as head of compliance from Circle, the peer-to-peer payments technology fintech in January 2020 and was made head of UK seven months' later. Halliday, began his career at NatWest Group and spent seven months at JPMorgan, but much of his time has been spent in the fintech - and latterly the crypto - sector.
Like Nicola White, president of crypto market maker B2C2 in the U.S., Halliday says getting a job in crypto isn't necessarily about having crypto work experience. "There's not a huge pool of applicants with storied backgrounds in crypto," he explains. "It's important to acknowledge that there are a huge range of experiences relevant to crypto - from financial services, to fintech, to big tech. When we're hiring in engineering, we're on the lookout for people with solid software engineering experience who can build reliable and scalable consumer-facing systems."
Gemini also hires people with the right attitude, says Halliday. "We recruit for mindset. Crypto needs trailblazing problem solvers with drive and an entrepreneurial mindset. This is an evolving sector, and we don't know what it will look like in a few years time." To work in crypto, you need to be agile and adaptive, he adds.
In the U.S., Gemini employs various engineers who've joined from Facebook. Halliday says the UK team is increasingly receiving applications from FAANG companies. "We're seeing a huge move from both finance and tech into crypto," he says. "People want to move across and build Web 3.0. They want to work for a business on the right side of history."
Although many jobs in crypto are for engineers, Halliday stresses that companies like Gemini need a broad array of staff. "It takes all sorts to build a crypto firm," he says. This includes compliance professionals, customer services and business development professionals and people with operational expertise.
Halliday is based outside London and doesn't come to the Gemini office (a WeWork) every day. "We're office-optional," he says. "We want to hire the right people and if they are based in Inverness, then so be it."
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