How Western Union supports your career pursuits
Freedom to travel not just across the globe but across the company: Career mobility at Western Union
Western Union is a global company that fosters an environment of continuous growth and learning for employees across its network of office in over 50 countries . Here, senior leader Will Burns explains how the diverse nature of the business and its workforce empowers employees in their career pursuits.
Western Union has a diverse employee base, not only from a cultural perspective but in terms of industry background and career path. Will Burns, the group’s Head of Loyalty, Experience, and CRM, said this is integral to its appeal as a workplace and its commitment to nurturing existing talent.
“I think we've got a really good mix of different people at Western Union. Some have come from other industries, but there’s a very healthy number of people who've been here for 10 or 20 years or even longer and have built careers within the country they're in,” he said.
Patria Cabral, Western Union’s Head of Product, joined the business recently but said she has already noticed a reasonable rate of internal promotions. “Our Chief Product Officer is very focused on growing the skills of our team, providing the right training and the right view into roles and responsibilities so that there is a path for employees to move forward,” she said.
A cosmopolitan company
Western Union has its head office in Denver, Colorado, but it operates worldwide, which creates opportunities for international travel and working from different locations.
“When you're working in Denver, you're surrounded by people from all over the world. If you've been in the business for 10 to 15 years, it’s likely you've worked in different countries,” Burns said.
Burns mentions a leadership team member who started off his Western Union journey as a junior in the Costa Rica office, climbed the ladder there, then moved to the Denver office and has continued to rise through the ranks.
Another colleague’s journey illustrates the freedom to travel across the company through its varied roles and departments. Starting as a junior in finance and operations 12 years ago, this employee worked across different departments before moving into the marketing team. This gave him a rich knowledge about the company from different perspectives. “This adds a lot of strength to how he views the business and how he’s able to apply his decisions,” said Burns.
This spirit of freedom to travel not just across the globe but across the company makes Western Union an exciting place to build your career.
Another big part of internal career mobility at Western Union is training as the firm seeks to invest in its team members. This includes understanding their role as part of the business, said Burns. “ It’s not only about doing your job well but also learning how it fits in and why it matters to the wider company strategy,” he explained.
Burns said he has also seen leaders encouraging colleagues to get involved in mentoring as part of the company’s focus on developing its people.
Why does career mobility matter?
It’s essential to bring in new thinking and fresh perspectives by hiring externally, suggested Burns, but equally, you can end up repeating the same ideas that have been tried before if no one understands how a company works. Promoting from within creates longevity, with longstanding team members having a deep understanding and experience of the business. This combination can be valuable when it comes to business strategy and decision-making. It also helps with staff retention. After all, people are likelier to be engaged and happy at work if they see a clear path to career progress. When there is no promotion opportunity, people can quickly become demotivated, added Burns.
When discussing why career mobility matters, Burns charts his career path. His background is in retail, having worked for some of the world’s biggest brands, including Walmart, McDonald’s, and Marks & Spencer. In big business, it can be easy to become ‘just a number’, but at Western Union, he feels more able to make an impact in his role. “Western Union is global with significant scale but it is not on the same level as some of the big retailers what might generate, say, $600bn in revenue, so it gives you a lot of scope to be able to get things done.”
Making your move
With strong employee retention and a culture of recruiting from within, it could be tempting to believe there is little chance for an outside candidate to apply to Western Union, but Burns said this is different. “In the marketing leadership team, half of us are new to the company, and half are from within the organization.”
What advice would he give someone just starting their career and wanting to progress? He suggested that thinking long-term and having a strategy in mind is important. “You have to be prepared to move laterally, sometimes even occasionally move down, because you've got a goal 10 years ahead in mind. You’ll be in a much stronger position if you get these different experiences.”