Rafa Lopez-Espinosa on Opening Point72’s Warsaw Office
In June 2020, we opened our 12th global office, in Warsaw, Poland, during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Rafael Lopez-Espinosa, our Head of Poland, wrote about his experience bringing Point72’s values and culture to a new part of the world.
I started at Point72 in 2015, after a career in consulting. I joined the strategy team, working on key initiatives for our Firm. Throughout that time, we have consistently been focused on growth, opportunistically opening new offices, working to find the best global talent and create a more diverse, resilient footprint.
In 2019, we made the decision to find a city to become another hub for our technology, finance, operations, and data teams. We were looking for a city with a talented, highly-educated workforce, and a great culture. Through several rounds of selection, Warsaw always stood out.
People who live here know this, but Warsaw is becoming increasingly important in Central and Eastern Europe—similar to cities like Berlin and London, it is attracting talent from its region and beyond. As the Polish capital, Warsaw also has some of the leading technical and engineering universities in the region, which not only produces well-trained graduates, but attracts companies—like ours—looking for a deep pool of top talent. People told me it was a vibrant place to work, and they were right.
We also had an opportunity to become the first and only major alternative asset management firm in the region. The major banks have a presence, and they’re great places to work, but for people who want to take the next step in their careers, an asset manager like Point72 is a great place to learn new skills and tackle different challenges. Being first in the market lets us create a dialogue with that talent pool, and we think we have compelling opportunities for people who want to be innovative and have an impact on the future of our Firm and the industry.
After much planning, we made the decision to launch the Warsaw office right at the time the pandemic was becoming a global event. While we knew this would make for a unique environment, we wanted to proceed and begin building our footprint and introducing ourselves to the city’s talent. I was one of the first people on the ground, and for a time the “office” was myself and a laptop in an empty floor. I had the full support and resources of our Firm, but I was not much of an office by myself.
Since that time, we have grown tremendously, and now we have a community of around 60 employees and are continuing to hire across key roles. We recently welcomed Maciej Wolanski to be our Head of Technology for Warsaw, which is an important role I expect him to thrive in.
As a global asset manager, a robust technology infrastructure, dedicated operations and finance teams, and a strong understanding of data science are absolute necessities. The kind of talent we’re finding in Warsaw, and our ability to connect them with people “in” our offices around the world, has been fantastic. In a way, starting the office when everyone at the Firm has been working remotely has been a blessing, because it just reinforces that the only thing separating us is time zones.
The office has grown, but the pandemic is ongoing, and our biggest priority remains the health and safety of our employees. With that as our guiding principle, we’ve been finding creative ways to build an office culture and to integrate new hires into the wider Firm at a time when we all had to be remote. We’ve introduced multiple virtual touchpoints to ensure everyone was maintaining a dialogue and building relationships. We’ve held special meetings on Fridays where we invite guests from other offices, play team-building games, share updates, and get to know each other.
We are also working to be deliberate in onboarding new employees. Everyone’s first day is an onboarding day, where the new joiners learn about the company and benefits, have compliance training, and meet the team for the first time. We also have a buddy program, where every new joiner is paired with another employee to help them get acclimated to the office and the Firm. We are working to create an office culture than synthesizes the best of Point72 and the experience our Warsaw employees bring with them, and I am impressed with the results so far.
Of course, we have been providing our people with equipment to ensure working from home is seamless and we are maintaining an open dialogue with everyone about issues they encounter. We believe in taking care of our people, and this comes alongside our ordinary benefits, such as reimbursing educational assistance and offering an employee assistance program.
It is still an extraordinary time, full of challenges and complications. But, we’ve already managed to attract top talent in the region and are seeing the immediate impact our new team members are having on our business. We’re working to further expand the office – our goal is to hire 150 top professionals by the end of 2021 and within two years, we anticipate Warsaw will become the company’s largest office outside the US.
Learn more about our open roles here.