How the right culture and people can help secure business success.
Näktergal CEO Erik Bennerhult explains how having a transparent and collaborative culture made up of diverse voices enabled the company to not only overcome challenges in 2022, but to set themselves up for success in 2023.
While 2022 was a great year for Näktergal, like many other fintechs, the company faced significant challenges, including the need to, increase efficiency, while at the same time acquiring new clients, and increasing revenue. Not only did the business achieve all of these goals, but it did so while retaining key talent and preserving culture. Read on to learn more about why Näktergal Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Erik Bennerhult believes that experimentation and innovation are important, how he prioritizes culture, and what 2023 holds for Näktergal.
Interviewer: Hi Erik, thank you for talking to us today. You co-founded Näktergal eight years ago, what motivated you to set up the company?
Erik: Back in 2015, we were working in finance and felt that there was an opportunity to make lending easier. In banking, risk minimization and mitigation are rightly prioritized. However, we wanted to create an environment (and a culture) that put technological innovation and user experience first, a place where people would have the freedom to experiment and innovate. Quite simply, somewhere that I would want to work myself! Today, we have a talented, diverse, and inclusive tech-first team, working together to create a truly digitized experience, while also having fun creating innovative technical solutions. Our aim is to build a better world where mortgages and lending are easier, fairer, more efficient, and sustainable, something which we’re passionate about.
Interviewer: You mentioned wanting to create a culture of innovation. Can you tell us more about the culture at Näktergal?
Erik: At Näktergal, culture is (and always has been) important. More than just the way we do things, with a culture of transparency, collaboration, and diversity of thought, we want everyone to feel heard and valued. However, while that may sound simple, building the ideal culture is easier said than done. Rather, it’s never something that is ‘complete’, like an item on a to-do list that can be ticked off and forgotten about. It’s an ongoing project, requiring flexible, strategic and visionary leadership. This might sound resource intensive, but the payoff can be invaluable. While 2022 was a difficult year for tech and fintech’s alike, we managed to decrease costs, attract many new clients, and increase revenue, while at the same time avoiding the major layoffs seen elsewhere.
Interviewer: That’s very impressive, how did you do this?
Erik: A key factor in our success was our culture. When we saw major challenges on the horizon, we got everyone into a room and harnessed our collective knowledge and skills to problem-solve, working together to find solutions. Our culture and non-hierarchical open discussions are our not-so-secret sauce. A good leader finds the right people to help take their business to the next level, and then gives them a voice and the freedom to use their skills. As a company, we’re proud to be able to say that our people come from a diverse range of backgrounds. This diversity of voice, thought, and perspective, generates new ideas and fuels innovation. Last year, collaboration not only enabled us to solve problems, but the process itself made us stronger. It clearly showed the high level of trust that we have in our people and their abilities. Having a great team of people solving challenges together creates a culture that is not only more inclusive but also on a basic level is more fun to work in, which is incredibly important.
Interviewer: So, what does 2023 look like for Näktergal?
Erik: The outlook for the year ahead is positive. Today, we’ve reached a point where we have a really good team, a great culture, and a fantastic product. We now offer a consumer lending solution that can be implemented in as little as two weeks, which is incredible. In 2023 we plan on building on those solid foundations. Working with our clients to further develop our standardized lending system, finding the balance between standardization and customization, and solving problems that our clients and we may not even be aware of yet! If all of this makes any of the readers as excited as us then I’d encourage them to take a look at the Näktergal careers page, where they can find out more about Näktergal and see what it’s like to work for us.
Interviewer: Thank you for your time today, Erik.
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