Helping businesses to sell anywhere

Helping businesses to sell anywhere

Square invented the first mobile card reader of its kind 15 years ago. Since then, it has developed into a business technology platform which serves all kinds of businesses. It allows businesses to sell anywhere and its operating system also allows companies to manage inventory, book appointments, order online and more. Samina Hussain-Letch, Executive Director UK at Square, discusses Square’s vision and how it has developed. She also talks about how Square ensures diversity and inclusion practices in its workplace.

What’s the business’ approach to management?

At Square, our management approach is all about empowering individuals to have impact and ensuring that our customers are at the heart of our decisions. Most employees can join Block, Square’s parent company, in an office location, from home, or with a mix of both. We’ve created workspaces and experiences that help individuals and teams to be their most creative and productive.

We believe remote flexibility helps us to grow a more diverse workforce and supports a better work/life balance for employees. We try to minimise organisational layers so that those closest to our customers are informing the decisions about the solutions we offer them.

What is Square’s company vision and goal?

Square was founded 15 years ago – in 2009 – in the US when one of our Co-founders, Jim McKelvey, was unable to make the sale of one of his hand-blown glass faucets because he could not accept card payments. Frustrated, Jim shared this experience with his friend, Jack Dorsey.

Being able to process card payments at the time required long, complex contracts, hidden charges and expensive equipment which limited smaller merchants from entering the market.

The iPhone, at the time, was a magical new device that could become a book, a camera, a map or most other things you wanted it to be. So, Jim and Jack thought why could it not begin processing credit cards?

Square started off with iconic hardware and over time, we listened and learned about the many needs of a business – both in store and online. So, we began pairing our hardware with software to offer a more seamless experience for owners to manage their business.

Fast forward to today, and Square supports 4 million businesses all around the world with technology to help merchants run their business online and in-person. Our company is driven by its purpose of economic empowerment, and our vision is to continue to empower businesses to start, run, adapt and grow through our suite of technology tools that give time and money back to businesses.

What kind of clients and market does Square serve?

Square is unique because we have such a large technology ecosystem which enables us to help businesses of all types and sizes. We resonate strongly with businesses in the food and beverage sector and also serve businesses across retail, health and beauty, professional services and more.

Over the past 15 years, we’ve grown alongside our sellers, launching specific points of sales like Square Online, Square for Restaurants, Square Appointments, tools for cash flow management, software that powers inventory management, team management, loyalty programmes, marketing programmes, gift cards, the list goes on.

In terms of markets, as well as the UK we are currently operating in the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, Ireland, France and Spain.

What has your career looked like so far?

I’ve always been in the FinTech industry. I started out at GMAC-RFC’s (a tech-based residential funding company) graduate programme working in sales, product, risk, securitisation and strategy. After spending three years at the organisation, including a secondment in Australia to support the launch of the business, I stayed in Australia and moved to Cuscal (a payments provider) where I managed the largest debit portfolio in Asia-Pacific.

It was during my time at Visa where I found myself coming into my own as a leader. I spent eight years with the company where I held a number of leadership positions across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore including Head of New Channels & Prepaid and Head of Loyalty Solutions.

Now, I’ve been with Square for four years across Australia and the UK and it’s been amazing to be a part of such an innovative organisation that is helping millions of businesses to run, start, adapt and grow. This is the part that brings me the most satisfaction and fulfilment – seeing how we’re able to make a difference to businesses and in many instances, communities.

We work with some incredible entrepreneurs that have amazing business ideas, so it’s really uplifting to be a part of their journey. I recently spoke with one of our sellers, Dimeji, the owner of Vegan Shack which has restaurants in both London and Manchester, who said that Square has helped him achieve 130% approximate growth year-on-year since starting out, demonstrating the impact our technology can have.

How do you ensure diversity and inclusion practices in your workplace?

Inclusion and diversity is at the core of what we do, as we aim to give all sellers equal access to opportunity through our offerings. We strive to live by these same values in the workplace, which is done through a number of initiatives.

At Block, embracing diversity – in all its forms – is key to building a high performance team and culture. We carefully monitor how we’re doing in terms of diversity and inclusion, and this helps us inform our hiring strategies and grow our teams.

To remove bias and level the playing field in promotions and pay, we’ve got multiple built-in safeguards. These include prompts to help managers consider their full bench of talent and checklists to reduce the influence of bias before decisions are finalised.

When it comes to hiring, we’ve also set a Block-wide commitment to consistently interview candidates from backgrounds underrepresented in tech, FinTech and finance.

Finally, we have multiple inclusion and diversity focused communities at Block that serve as safe spaces or offer development opportunities and mentorship. These communities support people of multiple religious and ethnic backgrounds. We also have regional pride-focused groups and groups dedicated to supporting employees who may have additional needs, such as neurodivergent employees or parents.

Could you share how you empower and mentor female leaders in the payments industry?

I’ve been fortunate to have great mentors throughout my career and it gives me real joy to be able to pay that forward. I am a mentor at Square, in a newly refreshed programme bringing talent from different business units and markets together. I also started the Women in Leadership programme at Visa, which was adopted across APAC, when I identified a gap to support more women in leadership and create a platform for allies. I really believe that it’s important to use your platform to share stories, wisdom and be vulnerable to help women and other minorities feel seen in their career journey in the payments and tech industry.

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