Continuing our Faces of Uphold interview series we would like to introduce, Robin O’Connell, EVP Head of Growth & Partnerships.
What attracted you to Uphold?
I first heard about Uphold (fka Bitreserve) back in 2014. I knew a couple of the founders and was captivated by the simplicity of being able to hold and move any form of value in the Cloud. Having worked in payments since 2000, I’ve had a front row seat at the quagmire that is the global money system today. Decades old systems built on top of each other making international money movement slow, opaque and expensive. The notion of ‘Cloud Money’ and the ease of moving money as easily as email is how the world will be, and I want to play a role in getting us there.
What has been the biggest success of yours since starting at Uphold?
I head up our Global Growth and Partnerships Team. We’re responsible for three main areas: 1- New Market Expansion, 2- Partnerships to Increase Uphold Utility, and 3- Partnerships to Drive Revenues, Reserve and Member Growth. At any given time, we have scores of conversations happening globally to drive these operations forward. The team is dispersed across four continents, so communication and structure is key. I would say my biggest success to date has been bringing a balance of organization and process from my past experiences to what might otherwise become a chaotic situation. The team is running fast, but is able to maintain focus to drive our goals and get deals done.
What has been the biggest surprise of working with Uphold?
Prior to Uphold, I was running a Business Development team at a large financial institution. Getting conversations going with other companies was like squeezing blood from a stone. But when I came to Uphold, all that changed. When you work at a Fintech startup, everyone wants to talk to you and I had forgotten how exciting that can be (this is my third FinTech start-up). Whether it’s a large bank or a small start-up, everyone wants to hear your plans and how they can play a part. That’s what I love about the job – you are solving a puzzle to figure out what partnership makes sense and how to make it happen.
What is one fun fact people might not know about you?
Probably the most random, fun fact about me is that I’ve ridden a horse 100 miles in under 20 hours.
How would you describe Uphold to a friend or family member?
It’s like PayPal on Steroids – The ability to store, move and use your funds without the constraints of our current banking systems. We are coming up with mind blowing ways of redefining money. I guarantee our kids will look back at how we bank today – the fees, the time it takes to send money, the fact that everything is siloed – and wonder how we ever got anything done. Just as we wonder how we ever got anything done before the Internet.
What are your thoughts on being a globally dispersed team?
For our business, it’s a requirement. Our customers are in 190 different countries and the value of Uphold is amplified when an individual or a business operates globally. It does make for some odd hours, a lot of travel and a need for proficiency with Skype.
What is your favorite quote?
“Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
What is the one thing you cannot live without?
My glasses or contacts… I’m basically blind.
What is the first app you open in the morning?
Slack. It’s become a great way to connect with the team globally and a good source of news.
If you are active on social media, where can readers connect with you?
- Interview With Uphold EVP Global Growth & Partnerships Robin O’Connell
- Uphold Dives Into India with Bank Deals
- FinTech eyes Antwerp Diamond Trade
- Uphold says that bitcoin is the leader in digital and fiat currency with over $57M BTC trading in 2016
Faces of Uphold interviews: