Nine thousand, four hundred and forty miles.
That’s the distance between Q2’s office in Bangalore, India, and its headquarters in Austin, Texas.
With so much space in between locations, one may wonder how the digital banking and lending solutions provider ended up with a global workforce spanning two continents half a world apart.
After acquiring Cloud Lending Solutions in 2018, Q2 gained a new set of global employees spread across Bangalore, London and Sydney, and the organization is especially eager to grow its footprint in India.
According to Chief People Officer Kim Rutledge, the reason behind the India-specific expansion comes down to two things: population and talent. India is the most populous country in the world, with a growing, vibrant and educated population that can support future talent demands. Additionally, tech professionals in India are simply some of the best.
“India is home to some of the most talented engineers in the world, so being able to leverage that pipeline to expand our aperture for talent attraction became really advantageous,” Rutledge explained.
For Rutledge and the rest of the leadership team at Q2, bolstering a presence in India isn’t simply a matter of rapid hiring. Rutledge said the company aims to grow intentionally and strategically, which involves building out a Bangalore-based executive team as well as learning and development leaders.
To help lead the company’s efforts to solidify its India-based operations, Q2 brought on Sanjeev Kalra in 2022. As a VP of professional services and the company’s country manager for India, Kalra is helping define what onboarding, growth strategy and success measurement looks like for the Bangalore office.
But apart from these technicalities, one of Q2’s biggest priorities amid global growth is ensuring that all of its employees receive the same level of empowerment.
“We want to protect the employee experience, no matter where they live and work,” Senior VP of Alternate Lending Bill Gravette said.
The Q2 employee experience involves a focus on professional development, as well as the opportunity to build connections with peers and give back to local communities. In doing so, employees can connect directly with the company’s mission, which is to “build strong and diverse communities by strengthening their financial institutions.”
“That’s really the core of who we are, and it’s something that people hear from the minute they’re recruited and into new hire orientation,” Rutledge said.
The caliber of Q2’s mission is something that has captivated Gravette throughout his time at the company. Every team member, regardless of where they live, gets to cultivate the entrepreneurial-yet-established nature of the business.
“We’ve grown the company to a point now where we have the scale, employee base, financial resources, customer base and feedback needed to really affect change in support of our mission,” Gravette said.
Q2 is a leading provider of digital banking and lending solutions to banks, credit unions, alternative finance companies and fintechs in the United States and internationally. Q2’s comprehensive solution set allows its customers to better onboard, grow and serve their consumer, small business and corporate clients.
‘India Reporting to India’
While Q2 may be headquartered in Austin, that doesn’t mean the company’s operations stem solely from Texas. According to Rutledge, the organization wants all of its offices, including the Bangalore office, to be as independently led as possible.
“We want India reporting to India and have as few people reporting directly to the United States as possible,” she said.
While Rutledge acknowledges that the company hasn’t fully accomplished this goal just yet, she believes it’s made great progress. By giving Bangalore team members opportunities to directly interact with customers and their North American coworkers, the company has created a closer partnership between its India and U.S. teams.
Gravette added that building out autonomous global teams was important, considering the nature of the company’s lending services. While lending has a common global foundation, there are differences in solutions and local regulations, which is why it’s essential to have team members based in each region they serve.
While leveraging the company’s digital banking platform, Gravette explained, team members can personalize specific modules according to their region while speaking directly with local regulators. He believes that this localization puts the company in a unique position to effectively serve all of its global markets.
“It’s really powerful in the sense that we get to see all of these inputs and inject them into our strategic processes and products,” Gravette said.
Having leaders and team members across different markets is also beneficial from an innovation standpoint. For example, during a recent trip to India, Gravette noticed substantial progress being made surrounding the unified payments interface, which drives account-to-account payments. Realizing its influence, he began considering ways in which the company might adopt this trend to support its other global markets.
“For a software company, it is critical we identify those trends early and figure out how to build and deploy solutions that help our customers take advantage of these shifts,” Gravette said. “Our global focus allows us to see where these innovations are popping up, and we’re in a better position to extrapolate and apply them strategically.”
‘THE TOUR OF TEXAS’
Sometimes, it takes a good old-fashioned road trip to spark understanding — and connection. Upon learning two leaders of the engineering team in Bangalore had never met any of the company’s customers in person or been to the United States, Q2’s executives decided to fly them out to Austin and take them on the road, which they dubbed “the tour of Texas.”
“It was important, because they were able to see our solutions in use at a community bank and credit union,” Gravette said. “Not only were the India-based leaders able to connect with customers and exchange valuable knowledge, they also had the opportunity to create memories that are cherished to this day.”
Community Meets Career Growth
Dodgeball and cricket tournaments may not seem like typical business imperatives — unless you work at Q2.
Over the past year, team members in Austin took part in their annual dodgeball tournament while their counterparts in India participated in a cricket match as a way to raise money for charity. For Rutledge, these events reflect a larger focus on enabling employees to come together to connect while making an impact.
To ensure the various offices have control over the events and initiatives they take part in, each region hosts cultural representatives who volunteer to guide these efforts. Rutledge added that each region is also allocated a budget to put toward team-building activities and community-focused events.
In honoring the local culture, the Bangalore team has hosted events to recognize various festivals, including Diwali. “We hold celebrations and then share information with others from across the company so they can learn about our local traditions,” Kalra said.
FROM BRAHMAPUTRA TO MANLY BEACH
When Q2 began building out its global offices, the company wanted its employees to feel like they were part of the same organization while simultaneously honoring each location’s unique culture. For instance, in Bangalore, you may have a meeting in the “Brahmaputra” boardroom, while in Sydney, you might chat with colleagues in “Manly Beach.” For Rutledge, not only do these elements add enjoyment to the workday, but they also hearken back to the company’s mission to support local communities around the world.
While making time for fun is essential to the employee experience, Q2 also strives to give its global employees opportunities to build new skills and pursue their career goals with its focus on learning and development. Kalra noted that newly promoted and hired managers take part in the company’s “leadership academy” during the first 90 days of their role. Although this initiative has taken place virtually over the past few years for India-based leaders, the company will host in-person training in Bangalore for the first time in October 2023.
Rutledge added that employees have access to LinkedIn Learning courses as well as live training courses hosted by the company. As Q2 amplifies its reach in India, the organization wants to ensure that all of the professional development resources available to North American team members, including live training sessions, are also present in Bangalore.
Aside from the cultural initiatives and career development opportunities that define Q2’s work environment, the global nature of the company enables team members to travel to other offices.
“We’ve done a good job of facilitating in-person interactions around the globe and giving people experiences to expand their careers by getting to see a world much larger than their local city or country,” Gravette said.
“We give people experiences to expand their careers by getting to see a world much larger than their local city or country.”
People Come First
Rutledge has worked for many publicly traded companies, but none of them are like Q2.
That’s because, unlike many companies of its size, the organization makes it possible for employees to address issues and communicate with its executive leadership team.
“I’ve never seen an executive team as willing to hear about challenges as this one,” Rutledge said.
She believes the company offers a unique space in which employees can see the tangible impact they make. To put it simply, people come first at Q2.
For Kalra, this focus on empowerment is matched only by the opportunity to leverage cutting-edge technology and build world-class products. Apart from that, he has seen countless individuals, including himself, take on larger responsibilities throughout their time at the company, leading to noticeable growth.
“You can play multiple roles,” Kalra said.
“You can play multiple roles.”
In Gravette’s mind, the impact team members make internally equals the influence they have in the market and within their communities, considering the financial institutions they serve are critical to the lives of countless people.
“I tell people, ‘You don’t want to work in a business that’s optional — and banking isn’t optional,’” he said.
The industry’s necessity, paired with the promise of continued global growth, makes Q2 fertile ground for technologists eager to shape their own futures while driving influence on a massive scale.
“It’s an exciting time to join the movement,” Gravette said.