Monzo founder: Even leaders struggle amid crisis

'Going through lockdown and isolation ... I don’t think I was any different'

Monzo founder: Even leaders struggle amid crisis

From a “scrappy” startup in 2015, UK digital bank Monzo has scaled its client base to five million.

But the velocity of Monzo’s growth and the continuing challenges of the pandemic have taken a toll on the mental health of its visionary – founder and former CEO Tom Blomfield – who will soon be leaving the challenger bank.

“I stopped enjoying my role probably about two years ago,” Blomfield told technology website TechCrunch. “We grew from a scrappy startup that was iterating and building stuff people really love, into a really important UK bank.”

While the founder isn’t saying “one is better than the other,” he believes he’s in his element when he works with “small groups of passionate people”.

“I think that’s a really valuable skill,” Blomfield said. However, the pressures of scaling the business to 20 million customers, making it profitable, and going public just aren’t the challenges he was “interested in or particularly good at,” he said.

Read more: Mental health issues are rising – here's how HR can help

It isn’t simply the struggles of a hypergrowth company that had taken the joy out of Blomfield’s work life. The COVID-19 crisis, which forced Monzo to cut staff and close down its Las Vegas office, also “exacerbated” Blomfield’s struggles.

“Going through a pandemic, going through lockdown and the isolation involved in that, has an impact on people’s mental health. I don’t think I was any different, so I was really struggling.”

Blomfield credits having a “supportive” executive team and set of investors as the reason he was able to pull through. “I was really grateful that when I put my hand up and said, ‘I need help,’ they were super receptive to that,” he said.

Read more: Feeling exhausted? You may have ‘change fatigue’

At the end of January, Blomfield will say goodbye to the company he built. On Twitter, he posted about his plans for some “extended relaxation” before moving on to his next projects.

For the team at Monzo, Blomfield leaves behind a legacy of hard work and dedication.

“Tom is an incredible entrepreneur who, with his co-founders, built Monzo from the ground up with a determination to be transparent, put customers first and make money work for everyone,” the team said.

“Monzo is where it is today because of Tom and his vision to transform banking – he leaves us with the foundations and inspiration to win under [new CEO] TS Anil’s leadership. We’ll miss him very much!”

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