Trading places: Monzo co-founder takes a back seat to make way for a new CTO as international expansion plans get put on the backburner

 
Emily Nicolle
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Meri Williams and Jonas Huckestein will make the announcement at today's Lead Dev Conference
Meri Williams and Jonas Huckestein will make the announcement at today's Lead Dev Conference (Source: Katura Jensen Photography)

Monzo co-founder and soon-to-be former chief technology officer Jonas Huckestein is making way for a new kid on the block, as business printing house Moo’s CTO Meri Williams joins the team to focus on UK growth.

Monzo now has 750,000 current account users on its books. While it’s been hard to get back to the 5 per cent growth rates that the bank had before making the switch from its original prepaid card programme, Huckestein told City A.M. that he believes that a focus on UK growth is its way forward.

For now, City A.M. understands that plans for international expansion, building new systems and moving into foreign currency trading are not being seriously pursued.

Read more: The regulator just approved Monzo's first move outside the UK

Huckestein said:

Our first priority is to really nail the current account in the UK. Once we’ve done that, suddenly the opportunities are endless for us to place our bets.

We have some projects ongoing to improve our Public API platform, and see if we can get developers to develop cool new things on top of Monzo like attaching an Uber trip inside our app.

He added: “From my perspective, the way it feels is that I built a ship and am now setting it to sail with a captain that I would blindly trust to steer it, so I can work on other things that I have a deep interest in.”

Speaking to City A.M. ahead of the announcement, Williams explained that while there’s nothing at Monzo she wants to change or do differently, she’s most excited about the journey the digital bank might take her on.

She spent the first ten years of her career at Procter and Gamble, where at one point she ran the finance systems for the EMEA region, and has since done stints scaling up digital teams elsewhere and worked inside M&S’s digital team. To her, Monzo is another scale-up that she can’t wait to get her hands on.

Read more: Monzo launches a web interface for life's little emergencies

“Monzo is just a really interesting business, and is hitting a scaling point that is very interesting to me,” Williams said in an interview with City A.M. last week.

“I’ve done quite a lot of scaling up of engineering teams over the last few years, and it’s an approach that I find fascinating to make sure that you keep the amazing culture that you’ve already got while having lots of new people join the team.”

Founded just three and a half years ago, the digital bank’s team has grown from a group of around 15 people doing product development and coding, to more than 300 staff in total.

For Huckestein, management of Monzo's engineering teams is where he first started. He spoke of time spent scouring London meetups to find out how to scale an engineering organisation without losing what made them successful to begin with, which is where he first found Williams.

“Inevitably, I often came across Meri giving talks on exactly the challenges I was facing," he said. "Eventually she took me under her wing and over the last two years, a mentor relationship and in the end, a friendship, also developed.”

“It became very clear to me that the best case outcome would be to somehow persuade Meri to join us.”

It was emphasised, however, that Huckestein is going nowhere for now. As a co-founder, he intends to stick around and focus on, in true engineer-style, how he can apply the principles of system design to a people-based organisation.

Meri Williams will be officially taking over the role in September, while she handles her transition from Moo to Monzo. Huckestein, meanwhile, is off on his honeymoon.

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