Disrupting the Workplace from Within: A Chat with Anthony Vaslin
For Anthony Vaslin, it was an unexpected and delightful journey to get to where he is today. The native Parisian at one time considered becoming a professional Taekwondo fighter before ultimately deciding to enter the world of finance and embark on a career that has since taken him across Europe and Asia. Joining Coople in January 2018 as Managing Director of Switzerland, he quickly stepped up to the role of Chief Operating Officer. Today, he regularly travels between Zurich, London, and Minsk to ensure the smooth running of business operations. We recently sat down with Anthony to discuss his thoughts on the future of work, workplace challenges, and what he looks for when hiring talent for his team.
Congratulations on your recent promotion to COO! Can you shed some light on your focus in your new role?
Thank you! One of my main priorities is to start aligning Coople’s operations across all departments. As you know, right now we have operations in Switzerland and the UK. As Managing Director, I focused only on business development within Switzerland. In this new role, my aim is to leverage the know-how and best practices of both our business offices and bring our teams from London and Zurich closer together. Bridging this gap not only makes us more efficient internally, it also opens up more opportunities when working together with international brands and companies.
You joined Coople from ricardo.ch, Switzerland’s largest online marketplace. What prompted you to make the leap?
I was quite happy at ricardo.ch, actually, but I saw an opportunity in Coople to do something that has never been done before: the chance to write the next chapter in the future of work. This uncertainty and newness excited me. At that time, I had spent over 4 years at ricardo.ch, seeing its acquisition by Tamedia and driving the implementation of the new owner’s vision. In that respect, I’ve contributed to ricardo.ch’s legacy and was also content to begin a new chapter in my own career.
Speaking of the marketplace, what do you think is the main challenge facing the Swiss and British labor markets today?
I wouldn’t limit it to just Switzerland or the UK: I think it’s at least a pan-European problem. The way to work is a concept that was defined a very long time ago, and we are starting to see a mismatch between this outdated definition and the way people want to work. Our world has changed so much in the recent decades to a point where we don’t necessarily need to build our lives around work anymore. Younger generations are realizing this first: they want to build their work around the way they live. So I think we need to reconcile these two ways of thinking.
On that note, how do you think the way we work will change in the coming years and decades?
If the newer way of thinking about work becomes takes hold, in the future, you may literally have 2 or 3 jobs in one week. It may sound daunting, but imagine the following scenario: on Monday and Tuesday, you work for a retailer in Zurich. However, since the weather is nicer in the south and you are in need of some sunshine, you decide to travel to Lugano and find a shift in a restaurant for Wednesday and Thursday. You finish off the rest of your week in London, where your friend lives. There, you decide to pick up an extra waitering shift or two for some additional pocket money. You are in full control of where you work, how you work, and what jobs you want to do. We definitely have a ways to go in making this possible, flexible, easy, convenient and safe, and there’s also the added challenge of changing people’s perceptions about this new way to work. However, I think in the coming decades, this will become many people’s preferred way to work.
As COO, you’ve probably had your fair share in managing a team and hiring employees. What are the characteristics you look for when hiring a potential team member?
For me, there’s one characteristic above all others, and it’s the most difficult one to assess: attitude. Experience and skills are important, but they can be learned and come with time. Furthermore, you can put them all down on a CV: what you can’t assess as accurately is an individual’s attitude. With that said, as someone who is hiring, it can be just as exciting for me to go to an interview as it is (hopefully) for the person being interviewed. What I try to do is to build teams who enjoy working with one another and who go at the job with the right attitude.
Finally, for any aspirants looking to further their career, is there anything you can share with us that helped you get to where you are today?
I would say that what really helped me was not to have too much of a plan. I was always open to new experiences and tried to be enthusiastic. I’m absolutely convinced that if you do a good job and maintain a positive outlook, you will go a long way, wherever that road may lead you. Success in a career can be made with a few key ingredients: open-mindedness, enthusiasm, and a can-do attitude.