Moving money around the world from Berlin’s start-up scene.

Andrew Gomez was the sixth employee of Lipis Advisors, a 12-year-old consultancy that helps clients including banks, fintechs and government regulators to develop products using interbank payment systems.

Since he was hired, the company has now employed four more Hertie School graduates out of a total of six new recruits. Andrew, who was recently promoted to the post of senior consultant, says those hires are not because he has a preference as a former student himself – it is because the Hertie School graduates have generally been better candidates.

“As someone who did a lot of work with statistics and methodology, I'm very aware of my own bias,” he says. “I actually asked people to cover up where the degree was located. We still found the Hertie School students tend to be better. And I'm not the only one involved in hiring.”

Lipis Advisors is one of the success stories of Berlin’s start-up scene. Founded in 2007 by an entrepreneur, it has doubled in size in the four years that Andrew has been working there and now has 12 employees. It’s a fast-paced field, with products like Alipay and WeChat Pay revolutionising financial transactions around the world.

“Last year alone, we had clients on every continent,” Andrew says. “So we do a lot of travel. Each project is very different. I lead small teams of analysts to carry out custom consulting projects for our clients. We work a lot in the fintech sector, a lot with the digital banks.”

Immediately after completing his degree in political science and history at the University of California in San Diego, Andrew arrived at the Hertie School in 2008, graduating in 2010. Five years of what he terms “a lot of bad luck” followed. “Companies went bankrupt on me multiple times,” he says. He worked as a freelance writer and editor to make ends meet, determined if possible to stay in.

“At a certain point, people were saying, ‘why are you still doing this? You have so much potential -- go somewhere else,’” he says. “I nearly left so many times. But I was stubborn. The first three or four years, I didn't think it was going to pay off, but it eventually did. And I'm actually getting permanent German residency in a couple weeks.

At the Hertie School, Andrew focused on European foreign policy and democratisation – subjects unrelated to his current employment. But he says skills learned there have nonetheless proven useful, both policy analysis and “the ability to take very complex subjects and break them down to digestible, understandable pieces.”

“A client comes to me with a very complex problem, and my job is to quickly understand it, look at their options, and give them recommendations,” he says. “And even though the topic is nothing related to what I did at Hertie, the methodology is actually very similar. It's just a different field.”

Payments is a field he knew almost nothing about when he first started the job, but now finds fascinating. “If we get out of the traditional bank space and look at, say, blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, or just distributed ledger technology as a whole technology field, there's so much going on,” he says. ‘It's really interesting, and you don't have to be a programmer to understand it.”

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