28 July 2023

Exness Uruguay: bringing the company culture to Latin America

Stepping out of your comfort zone has become something of a cliche prerequisite for self-development, as if personal growth only happens in harsh, uninviting conditions. While there is certainly some truth to that, who said you can’t reach for the stars in a cozy, inviting environment that provides plenty of opportunities for smooth, efficient work?

That’s all rhetorical for our HR Manager Agustina Dabezies, who assumed the role of figurative (and in a way, literal) architect for Exness’ newest office in Montevideo, Uruguay. She went on a quest to make it more than just a set of walls and furniture, but a cozy, positive, and energizing hub for Exness employees from across Latin America and beyond. A place where talented people are brought together to form a community and achieve great results.

While many of them traveled long distances to reach Montevideo, the longest journey of all was by the Exness Uruguay project itself—one that Agustina kindly shared with us.

Observing people’s friendly interactions, openness, and willingness to help at any moment, I got a good feel for the Exness culture and how it manifests in a live environment, where each person is valued as both an individual and team player."

Agustina Dabezies HR Manager

Why Uruguay?

Growth is integral to Exness. We encourage our employees to learn and develop, apply past experiences to build better products, and seek out new audiences. The latter is one of the core responsibilities of our New Markets Division. In 2020, two of its members—key account managers Hernan and Martin—laid the foundation for the company’s presence in Latin America.

Their efforts quickly bore fruit: business in the region gained momentum, bringing in support teams to work alongside New Markets, as the rapidly-growing operation required more hands and brains on deck. As the COVID pandemic normalized remote working, these new teams successfully managed coordination, without physical space for a hub. Creating such a center soon became a priority, though.

While there’s merit in being able to adapt and organize efficient work under almost any conditions, we’re convinced that laptops and smartphones, as convenient as they may be, can’t replace live human interaction. Simply sharing physical space with coworkers provides a more varied approach to solving issues and achieving objectives. There’s less scheduled waiting, more organic and cross-department integration, and a palpable sense of belonging that naturally emerges through teamwork. To have all that, we needed a location.

A long and careful consideration, that took economy, safety, accommodation, and general living conditions into account, brought us to Uruguay’s capital Montevideo as the sweet spot for Exness’ newest office. Now we just had to bring in the people.

Meeting your tribe

They say there’s no place like home. But for a long-term remote worker, home is often the only place for quite a while. Despite sharing a well-established online acquaintance within teams, we couldn’t pass up on opportunities to break the ice in person, way before the relocation process kicked off.

The support department’s business trip to Malaysia and New Market’s collective visit to Cyprus spontaneously became their first respective team building activities, enabling groups of previously virtual colleagues to finally exchange handshakes and greetings without the mediation of a webcam.

Observing people’s friendly interactions, openness, and willingness to help at any moment, I got a good feel for the Exness culture and how it manifests in a live environment, where each person is valued as both an individual and team player."

It wasn’t just the people who made a good impression on me: during both trips I took notes and photos of the company buildings I visited, arming myself with references for our own in-progress office interior. Each had its own distinct identity while still looking unmistakably ‘Exness’, which is exactly what I wanted for Uruguay.

A cultural kaleidoscope

Together with our Office Manager, we created a vision of a workplace that’s ergonomically smart, comfortable, and welcoming, with plentiful collaboration spaces beyond your ordinary meeting rooms, and vast pockets of greenery to invite nature into our world of technology.

We wanted to make a walk through the office corridors feel like a mini-exhibition: from decorations of Uruguay’s fauna and musical culture, to a beautiful mural custom-made by a local artist, to traditional cuisine options always available in the kitchen."

These include both healthy foods for the strong-willed, and Dulce De Leche—the local caramelized milk, also known as Diet Destroyer or Nectar of the Gods, depending on who you ask.

One of our priorities was also to make sure that as we shared our own culture with employees from abroad, we also recognized theirs, naming our meeting rooms after their countries of origin, of which there are plenty.

As of June 2023, Exness Uruguay has 66 employees from 10 countries. Most of them have been working remotely for months or even years before setting foot in Montevideo. So, for many, it was a big step to take.

Baby steps and helping hands

Each new hire of the Exness Latin America team was told in advance that they’d eventually move to an office. But until it finally happened, it would have seemed like a distant and improbable dream—not least due to prolonged radio silence from management, while the office was taking shape.

Nearing completion in 2022, we addressed that information vacuum by launching a communications campaign, giving the spotlight to our Uruguayan team members, who furnished new recruits with cool facts about the country, sharing view drone footage of Montevideo, as well as details about local rent prices and conditions, the tax system, and other essentials for an immigrant. The campaign aimed to drip-feed important relocation knowledge in a way that didn’t overwhelm people, but kept them informed.

Still, we understood that the very notion of having to pack your life into a suitcase and take it with you to another country could be overwhelming in itself, especially if it’s your first time abroad, like it was for some employees. We didn’t want them to feel abruptly torn away from their homes and tied to a strict travel deadline set by a company with no regard for their personal lives.

At Exness, we care about people, and do our best to make sure that everyone is taken into account. 

It took many hours of one-on-one conversations with each relocating team member to hear everyone out, answer their questions, understand the complexities faced while planning to leave home, and offer support."

Based on these conversations, we adjusted our plans and made an agreed timeline commitment—one that would enable us to decide on deadlines without making our people feel pushed into making decisions too quickly.

Being mindful and empathetic helped paint a clearer picture of people’s concerns, doubts, and expectations, and put them at ease where possible.

Equipped with personal belongings, necessary knowledge, and our reassurance, they were ready to move.

Welcome to Montevideo!

Uruguay is known for its friendliness and hospitality and we decided to show ours to the first arrivals, with a 6-day celebration of Exness Uruguay’s official inauguration in November 2022.

A hearty welcome dinner, fun team building, a countdown to the ceremonial unveiling of the office, a full-day sightseeing tour, and a day of Exness workshops to kickstart our productivity.

But hospitality isn’t a ‘one-and-done’ event, and celebrating a culture doesn’t end with a country name on a meeting room door. We take every opportunity to learn from each other and share our traditions."

One such opportunity presented itself soon after the official opening, as the 2022 FIFA World Cup swung into action. We turned our dining area into a football fan zone, decorated with all participating country flags and gathered together to watch every match of each other’s home teams. We ordered the playing countries’ traditional food for the atmosphere, rooted for them as if they were our own, grieved their losses, celebrated their victories - and eventually shared the triumphant joy of our Argentinean colleagues as they watched their country claim the World Cup. Sure, stadiums are great, but have you ever had THIS kind of experience watching football?

Recently we celebrated Cinco De Mayo—a traditional Mexican holiday on 5th of May, paying tribute to Mexican culture with a global after-office event. And there’s more to come! As our team keeps growing and more nationalities become part of the Exness Uruguay team, our calendar gets busier with causes for celebration, sharing, and cultural enrichment.

As new arrivals keep coming - half a year on from the opening ceremony - veteran office workers welcome newbies into their own, already traditional hangouts, get acquainted, give advice, and assure them that they’ll receive all the guidance and support needed.

Witnessing these simple yet effective acts of kindness melts my heart and proves we’ve truly built a community in this brief period. At times it was a bumpy ride, but seeing how far we’ve come makes me proud of our hard work and motivates me to keep making Exness Uruguay an even better place to be. As the Exness Uruguay team keeps growing, we’re happy to see more people embrace, support and enrich the Exness culture that we’re all an essential part of.

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