Alice Hu: Transparency Allows Us to Act on Our Values
We’re happy to introduce Alice Hu: Vinted’s Compensation & Benefits Lead, who’s changed not just countries but industry, and who now helps make Vinted a better place to work at. In this interview, Alice tells us why Vinted’s mission is so relatable to her, and what the benefits of transparency and diversity within the company are.
Hi Alice! What is your role at Vinted?
Hello! I’m responsible for the compensation and benefits program at Vinted, where I look into the complete rewards experience for people working here.
How did you become part of Vinted, and what helped you decide to join?
I joined Vinted back in November 2020. I’ve always been interested in sustainability. My background was in financial services, but the banking industry was hard to relate to because it’s not something I’m passionate about. Vinted is something that you can easily connect to. Seeing Vinted being very active on the sustainability front and having a very relatable product were the main drivers for me making the switch from financial services to a consumer-facing e-commerce business.
So you’ve combined your expertise with something you care about.
Yeah, and now my role is very easy to relate to. For example, when I’d tell people that I was working as a manager in the banking sector, they’d say, “You make rich people richer”. Whereas now I tell people “Look, our company is trying to make second-hand items more easily available to everyone”. It’s obvious, and it instantly has such a positive impact. Everyone knows that we should have a more sustainable approach and use more second-hand items, so it’s a very nice change for me.
You mentioned Vinted’s mission as very familiar to everyone. How is it important to you personally?
It has become more important since I moved to Berlin. I’m from the US originally, where people buy big new items, and in Berlin – I don’t know if it’s Germany or Berlin – there is this culture of reusing things. It got me into seeing things in a very different light and appreciating what Vinted does, like how it can give things a second life while benefiting both sides – the seller and the buyer.
What about your job? What makes you excited to go to work?
I’m passionate about the employee experience and figuring out the balance between employer and employee responsibilities on topics of wellbeing, diversity, equity and inclusion. You often see a company claiming to have values, but in reality they are not delivered to its employees, nor do they really translate. I’m excited about helping Vinted communicate its values well, and helping its employees to feel that we care about them. In general, Vinted is such a great company doing many good things, but we don’t always communicate it well internally. I’m motivated by figuring out how we can make Vinted an even better place for people to work at.
Do these things give meaning to your job, too?
I like my work because I enjoy solving challenging problems. It’s even better when you have a group of smart, talented people to co-create with. We work hard, but we have fun along the way.
Do you have any rituals that help you get in the zone for work?
I have two young boys, so my morning includes making breakfast. It’s always quite chaotic, depending on how happy they are about going to school that day. Work is where I can calm down, but it is nice to have a lovely, bubbly family environment, before saying ‘bye’ to them and then just focusing.
Vinted is becoming more international and diverse. It initially started in Lithuania, grew bigger, and continues to grow. How do you benefit from Vinted’s growth?
Because Vinted is becoming more international, we’ve decided to open a tech hub in Berlin. I’m based in Berlin, so I think I directly benefit from it. It’s my first time working with so many Lithuanians, and it’s quite nice. Everybody is transparent, direct and very egalitarian. There is a big community spirit around everything that we do. I haven’t figured out yet if it’s specific to Lithuania or Vinted, but I haven’t been in a workplace where I’ve felt that people genuinely care before.
It’s in Vinted’s DNA as an employer to be open and accessible to all. Do you feel that this statement is true?
At Vinted, everything is very transparent. We walk people through what they’re doing, and share every piece of information on our Intranet with all our employees. It’s where we show everything that we’re doing: our OKRs are transparent, and everybody can read through them. We celebrate our successes, document our failures and share what we’ve learned.
As someone who has newly joined, it’s interesting to see all of this history readily available online. For example, what happened seven years ago is properly documented. It’s great to see that some of these people from seven years ago are still here – this isn’t always the case with startups and scaleups.
Do you feel transparency is important in your work life?
I think it’s a crucial aspect of Vinted’s culture, of co-creating and having ownership. We allow people to participate in all aspects of the journey if they want to. It’s the reason why Vinted can be open and accessible. I haven’t seen that level of transparency or involvement in other businesses I’ve worked for.
How does working with many people from diverse backgrounds help you learn and grow and solve daily challenges?
It’s all about listening to the opinions of others – which can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. When I’m putting together proposals, different views help me have a more balanced and inclusive proposal. I’m collecting feedback from everyone, and when we have a final product, we have more buy-in from everyone. But I cannot ignore the challenges of having so many different voices – which one do you go with, and which one should lead? It takes time. And sometimes we don’t have that much time because we’re growing so fast. It’s like striking the right balance between gathering input and knowing when to stop.
And when it comes to different nationalities, do they help you? It’s said that Lithuanians are pretty direct and transparent.
Lithuanians, Germans and the Dutch are direct, and that helps. They are very low context people – they tell you exactly what they’re thinking, versus like British people who’re hedging what they’re saying. Because we’re so open and transparent, we welcome all sorts of views. It’s part of the company’s process of figuring things out, but we could still do more to have stronger employee voices around. For example, I’m passionate about the topic of gender equality, empowering women, etc. These topics are welcomed and supported by our people, but we could do more to support a stronger stand publicly.
Do you use the Vinted app?
Yes. As employees, we’re offered Vinted credit every month. It’s funny, because at the beginning of the month my older son and I sit and check Vinted for what we want to buy. He loves looking through the toys section.
What’s your favorite place in the world?
My favorite place online is Netflix. I watch all sorts of things. I recently got hooked on Korean dramas – they’re super unrealistic and overly dramatic, but they help me destress and take my mind off of reality. My favourite ‘real’ place is Taiwan. I’m Taiwanese American, and my family still lives in Taichung, a city in the middle of the island. It’s such a different place from Germany, where it’s primarily cold. In Taiwan, it’s scorching hot all the time.
Could you recommend something – a movie, a TV show, a podcast, or a Youtube channel – for those who’ve read this interview?
For HR folks, I’d recommend Digital HR Leaders, a podcast by David Green. He focuses on the latest HR trends, and invites data-driven People leaders to discuss their learnings. And for the foodies out there, a must-listen is the David Chang podcast. He’s very popular in NY and talks about everything, but mainly about what he eats, and he has multiple restaurants and discusses the latest food trends. By the way, everyone at Vinted seems to be a massive foodie.