People of OST: Ira Merchant, Recruiting Director

Ira Merchant is an experienced talent acquisition professional. She has been working on our team in Pune since 2012. Her experience and forte lie in her ability to help organisations scale rapidly while innovating recruitment practices that strengthen the people experience. She has a hands-on, action oriented approach to work.

Tell us about yourself!

I am from a small town in the largest state of North India, which is Rajasthan. I did my schooling there and then moved around a couple of cities for my graduate and post-graduate studies. I came to Pune about 17 years ago for my MBA, met my husband in college, and since then have made Pune my permanent home.

Before OST, I worked with boutique recruitment firms, established technology firms, and sales-and-marketing consulting firms as a recruiter. I joined the OST Pune technology team in 2012 and am forever grateful for getting an opportunity to work with this start-up firm. I absolutely love the start-up DNA we maintain at OST, where things are always fast-paced, ever evolving with aggressive timelines, setting and achieving ambitious goals. OST offers the flexibility to innovate, an opportunity to work with graduates from Ivy League schools and top colleges in India, and so much more.

What do you find most interesting about blockchain technology?

First, it is interesting because it is a new, rapidly evolving technology. My thoughts resonate with what Mark Bonchek, the founder & CEO of Shift Thinking, talked about in his OST LIVE talk. He laid out parallels between the evolution of blockchain and the internet. According to him, the potential of what the internet could do or would become was not taken seriously in its early development. The same is happening with blockchain. It would be super interesting to see blockchain in its fully optimized and evolved state.

Second, I find the Goldilocks Zone concept interesting. The true value of a branded token economy is maximized in an intermediate state in which branded currencies serve as both a social currency and a financial currency, so that it doesn’t feel like a payment, yet it has real value. The balance between social and financial currencies is the “Goldilocks Zone” that brands haven’t been able to achieve in the past. Blockchain will enable social currencies to be used in a way that people can be rewarded for what they do in the relationship.

Third, I find realistic industrial applications the other most interesting element about blockchain technology. For example, decentralized financial applications suggest that there is no need to rely on banks or other financial institutions for banking requirements .

What does your role as recruiting director at OST entail?

I am based in Pune, so most of my work is around the Pune office. I have a very hands-on role and work closely with our CFO, Renee Wong, and Akshay Raje, who used to be VP of people and operations. My job is to make sure that OST is a workplace where everyone loves their job, enjoys coming to work, respects and appreciates their colleagues, and where everyone is constantly challenged, learning, and growing.

I am the first point of contact for all questions about people services in Pune, including benefits, policies, programs, time off, and so on. I maintain employee records for the Pune team. I’m also responsible for administering and coordinating the human resources function in Pune, including on-boarding of new hires, benefits and compensation, recruitment, performance evaluation, employee relations, and policy development.

I work closely with our global teams on developing people programs and processes worldwide, then lead implementation at our local office. I also spend a little time answering support queries related to our email marketing platform — Pepo Campaigns.

What do you look for in new hires?

We are looking for people who crave a challenge , who want to work at the nexus of blockchain, cryptocurrency, and the future of business and society. In new hires we look for individuals who want to get blockchain to the mainstream. We have a little over 65 people at OST, distributed among all our offices in Pune, Berlin, New York, Hong Kong, Montreal, and Los Angeles. We are looking to hire a lot more in the weeks ahead. The careers page on our website lists these positions in detail.

What is OST’s company culture?

We continue to build a positive and powerful culture where people love and take pride in the company, the projects they are working on, and the products they are building. When you love your job and know that you are part of something bigger than yourself, that positive vibe comes across in everything you do.

We organize town halls or company all-hands meetings every two weeks, which keep employees in the loop about the company’s philosophy, performance, and vision while keeping management informed about employee ideas and concerns. Frequent communication with partner companies and the OST community on Telegram ensures we are acknowledging their needs, wants, and expectations. We understand that keeping our culture on track means being consistently positive with all our company’s stakeholders.

We have a 30/60/90-day feedback program for new hires to sync with the company’s vision and direction while ensuring that the new hire is provided with everything they need to flourish in their new role. How we approach our work is often as important as the work itself because the way we treat each other, our shared environment, and the way we cooperate and collaborate, which results in an environment of equity and inclusion, fostering a culture of diversity that attracts, supports, and helps retain the brilliant talent we have here at OST.

OST treats every team member as an owner and stakeholder. We are a fast-moving team with high expectations and a rewarding culture of learning, mentoring, and coaching. We are looking forward to hiring the right fit across our offices in Berlin, New York, and more. who can add to the culture we’re building here at OST.

Thank you, Ira!

Be sure to check out last week’s interview with OST senior blockchain engineer Martin Schenck. Subscribe to our YouTube channel or listen to the audio format anywhere you listen to podcasts, including iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify. We’re also now available on Alexa! Simply add “OST LIVE” to your flash briefing.

About OST

OST blockchain infrastructure empowers new economies for mainstream businesses and emerging DApps. OST leads development of the OpenST Protocol, a framework for tokenizing businesses. In September 2018 OST introduced the OpenST Mosaic Protocol for running meta-blockchains to scale Ethereum applications to billions of users. OST KIT is a full-stack suite of developer tools, APIs, and SDKs for managing blockchain economies. OST partners reach more than 300 million end-users. OST has offices in Berlin, New York, Hong Kong, and Pune. OST is backed by leading institutional equity investors including Tencent, Greycroft, Vectr Ventures, and 500 Startups.