27 October 2023

All personal, all business: balancing two vastly different job titles in one company

The phrase “Career ladder” is a bit too blunt to properly describe an employee’s professional journey, assuming it’s a straightforward path upwards from a Junior position to a Senior, from a following to leading, from learning to educating, etc. While there’s nothing wrong with this idea, having more complex twists and turns in one’s career path allows the company to be more flexible, to put its talented people to the test, and to expand their portfolio with new interesting experiences that benefit both the organization and the individual.

It’s not every day that you see a Business Advisor to CEO shift their duties to become Chief People Officer. But becoming a Chief People Officer while retaining the prior title of Business Advisor to CEO is an arguably unique position to have. Yet it’s exactly the position assumed by Exness’ Fuad Karimov.

We couldn’t contain our curiosity and asked Fuad all about his experience holding two seemingly vastly different titles at the same time, what his responsibilities are, and how he balances both to contribute to the company’s success.

Being a tech company, everything we do as a business is based on a solid technological foundation, and our technology is driven by our people."

Fuad Karimov Chief People Officer & Business Advisor to CEO

Expertise through passion

Strange as my dual job title may sound to some, I feel at home being at this unique intersection of people and business strategy. Despite having a hardware engineering background, most of my professional life is entangled in business development. But my passion has firmly settled in trading. Having grown from a part-time hobby to practically a second profession over 20 years, it eventually led me to leave my job at the peak of my career and dive headfirst into financial investment, gaining valuable experience trading futures, CFDs, bonds, stocks – you name it.

This experience and crucial industry knowledge I’ve gained throughout this time have proven to be invaluable assets when I assumed the position of Business Advisor to CEO Petr Valov 6 months after joining Exness in 2018. Here I also became a member of the Entrepreneurs Committee. The committee focused on a wide range of discussions, allowing everyone to contribute their expertise and provide different perspectives on high-level decision-making related to business development, trading conditions, product components and strategies, new markets, and shaping the company’s internal structure.

It’s the latter that eventually brought me to the crossover with our People division.

Becoming a people person

How does someone with no experience working in Human Resources become a Head of the People division? It’s a complex question to answer, but there’s a very simple and important factor to consider – working with people. Staying involved in manager-to-employee and manager-to-manager relations, analyzing their interactions, and forming the company structure based on its current needs arms you with the necessary experience. It’s a crossroad of responsibilities that allows me to use my business-related insights for the benefit of the People division.

But there’s more to this title. We’re a business, and every step a business makes is about development. Business value comes not just from direct profits and extensive client bases – our CEO Petr Valov sees value in People department’s work. It’s therefore one of my primary responsibilities to oversee my department’s contribution to our business, and to adapt our approaches so that this value manifests itself.

Being a tech company, everything we do as a business is based on a solid technological foundation, and our technology is driven by our people. So ensuring their growth and wellbeing, providing recognition, and keeping them aligned with our cultural principles and business goals all creates the value we seek.

People-oriented = business-oriented

It’s not uncommon to hear ‘We’re a family’ in corporate talk, but you can’t just proclaim that and expect several thousand people to start treating each other as close relatives. It’s easy to maintain warm professional relationships when you’re a small organization where everyone knows each other and interacts on an almost daily basis. Throughout the last few years Exness had a very extensive development model: we’ve focused on growth, and this growth had significant influence on our decision-making, our approach to solving problems, our values and culture even. This has its benefits in being able to hire new professionals to manage our growing operation, but inevitably comes with a few side effects – predominantly in the form of blurring company culture due to the sheer volume of people of different cultural and professional backgrounds.

Dealing with these side effects means entering a certain maturity stage. We’re narrowing down our focus, cutting down on bureaucracy, and seeking sustainable growth based on the resources we have - including human resources. It’s quality instead of quantity: quality of product, of internal processes, our interactions, and last but not least – the aforementioned company culture.

Exness is very focused on honesty and openness in everything: how we talk to traders, how we build our product, and how we treat each other. This means there are no barriers for providing feedback or hierarchical hurdles for contacting any of your colleagues with a question or an inquiry. We care by paying attention, taking responsibility, speaking up and putting in the extra work where necessary. Knowing for a fact that your colleagues are always there to back you up creates a cushion of trust behind our back that you can always fall back on. And this leads into one of our most important principles: succeeding together. We acknowledge that everyone is different and unique, make use of every individual’s strengths and consider their weaknesses – as we’re all people.

All of this doesn’t become the widespread norm in a day, and it’s on me to ensure that we’re going towards making this the norm company-wide. Upholding these principles not only creates a pleasant work environment, but benefits the business by strengthening cooperation, encouraging growth and allowing everyone to operate more effectively as a part of a group rather than a set of individuals. That’s where the term ‘Exness Club’ becomes very real and palpable for everyone involved.

A personal touch

Apart from abiding by company values, it’s important to have your own, and be open about them.

When a team of over 100 people gets assigned a new head to report to – even if he’s been with the company for a while – it’s natural for them to ask “Who is this person and how do I work with them”? Getting to know everyone in-person is crucial, but it’s a graduate process. So before assuming the new role, I took some time to think over and formulate the principles that guide me personally as a human being, not just as an employee. Just a few examples:

  • Our families are more important than anything else in life. Take care of your family.

  • Data is important, but people are more important. Meet and talk with people, try to understand them, and be kind.

  • As a manager, you are only as strong as the team of people that work for you, trust you, follow you, and empower you. You stand on the shoulders of your people.

I’ll leave the whole list for my colleagues, but many of them mirror our company values while still being personal to me. At the heart of any official company values lie the personal values of its founders. Exness is a big and very diverse company, so uniformity is impossible – but also unnecessary. Everyone is guided by the culture and values that come directly from Petr Valov and our top managers.

When you see your higher-ups following the very rules and principles they’ve established, it inspires you to follow suit. That’s what fuels culture, makes people respect their colleagues and do their best at work, contributing to our business as a whole.

It’s what makes Exness a comfortable place for work, where the comfort comes from genuine care about the people, and where this care transforms your perception of a job from a task list to a collective effort at creating the best trading platform out there.

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