Monica is our human resources expert. She previously worked with startups at an incubator before starting her own HR agency, and then moving to work full-time at Aragon One. Welcome, Monica!

For readers who are unfamiliar with you, tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hey there! My name is Monica and I am the person in charge of human resources at Aragon One.

My main focus is to grow the Aragon One family by hiring people that are aligned with our vision and culture and increasing the team's leverage through management and coaching. Fun fact, I never watched Billions but some people mentioned that I remind them of Wendy Rhodes.

I have Asian roots, grew up in Spain and have worked internationally in places such as Silicon Valley. Therefore I have inherited the Asian work culture and a love for technology and the entrepreneurial spirit, while still remaining a big fan of spending a nice afternoon with friends and good food on a terrace in Madrid.

My journey has been a squiggly line. I started out with social entrepreneurship when I was sixteen and then moved to Madrid to study a dual degree in Business Administration and International Relations. It was then that I realized that I enjoyed learning by working more than I did by sitting in a classroom, so I made the decision to drop out after my first year and move to Silicon Valley. I went from being a consistent straight-A student to rejecting the traditional academic system and building my own path. (Against all odds, I had full family support.) There I began my career working in International Expansion Marketing but because of Visa reasons, I had to return to Spain.

After returning, I led a startup incubator. Through that experience, I discovered my passion for psychology and management. Around that time I learned more about the blockchain space through Luis and Jorge and became attracted to the whole vision. I then founded an HR agency for crypto projects, moved to Switzerland and finally joined Aragon One full time.

Moving every six months to a different city/country has been an interesting experience, but I couldn’t be happier to be back to living the Spanish lifestyle!

Can you talk a little bit about your hobbies?
I am a bit of a workaholic and it's hard for me to split my hobbies from my work. I love psychology and studying human behaviors, thoughts processes, etc. and tend to do that unconsciously when I informally socialize. Which sounds a bit creepy, I know.

Otherwise, when I am alone, I like to spend time doing all sorts of creative stuff from cooking, painting, writing poetry, learning how to play the Spanish guitar or reading (psychology, of course) related books. I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, so I also like to try anything that feeds into that. With friends, I love going to techno festivals, longboarding and hanging out around a hookah or having "copas" on a terrace.

Which aspects, in particular, do you find the most interesting about Ethereum?

As many others in the space, I advocate for the ideas of decentralization and censorship resistance. I am someone who is a strong defender of individual freedom and I believe that this freedom starts with having the option to choose.

Reading about history, I realized that my generation has generally become too concerned with superficial problems and our ancestors' revolutionary spirit has been lost. We used to rely on the hope that technology and the internet would provide wellbeing that has now fallen through the cracks. Most technological innovations today focus mostly on further increasing the global economic gap and not enough is invested in redistributing this wealth.

Blockchain technology is a light at the end of the tunnel; it provides endless possibilities to design social, economic and technological systems that we can't even begin to foresee. Ethereum specifically possesses the strongest infrastructure and community to make that happen.

Which projects in the Ethereum space are you most excited about, and why?

There's a lot of attention put in end-user focused projects, and in most of my interviews, people highlight Cryptokitties, for example. For that type of product, I am looking forward to seeing games being consolidated. If we could find a great use case to have something like Fortnite or League of Legends using blockchain, that would be killer apps for adoption.

Still, I think there are lots of basics to be built and having solid foundations is essential for the long term sustainability of the industry. I follow closely projects like hardware wallets, Status, DAppNode, MakerDAO, Polkadot, and, of course, Aragon for governance.

Why do you think Aragon is relevant to society?

Aragon is the response of the natural evolution of an increasingly decentralized society. The current jurisdiction-based collaboration structure of companies is outdated.

Hiring people abroad and the internationalization of companies is already a normal phenomenon. More and more people work from home, from their computers, for projects based on other countries. It's striking to have the pressure to set a fully online and remote company in a local jurisdiction and having tons of bureaucracy and barriers to doing so properly. Unfortunately, there's not a standard for international labor law and often it's easier to hire locally than open job opportunities worldwide.

Aragon fights for the freedom to organize from the ground up. We build the tools for you to operate a fully online and remote organization and the architecture to create the organizational model that best suits each of them. We're starting with use cases that involve small groups of people but who knows if once tested, the same architecture could serve for greater social coordination.

How is managing a remote team different from working from an office? What are the main challenges you're facing?

Generally, managing a team regardless of its location is a challenge by itself.

For remote teams, the challenges come from what we miss from physical interactions: spaces for informal chats, asynchronous communication, longer onboarding processes, and team bonding. We put a lot of focus on planning and coordinating beforehand to align priorities and expectations, we encourage over-communication and we organize specific spaces to have live discussions: from weekly calls to quarterly team offsite with workshops, team activities and leisure time, and forms to encourage continuous feedback.

Otherwise, I think the other challenges we face are similar to other startups. As we grow, we adjust all sorts of equipment, vacations, payroll, etc. policies, re-structure the team based on each one's career development plans and project needs, and constantly re-think our performance evaluation system. I hope to start sharing our Team Handbook and other managing remote teams learnings we had over these years soon!

On the other hand, we have the benefits of setting our own schedule, focus and productivity usually increase, we have more flexibility to consolidate work-life balance and we're able to hire talent worldwide. It's pretty cool to be able to work from anywhere in the world as long as you have your laptop and a reliable internet connection!

Thank  you very much for the interview Monica. We appreciate all your work to improve our team and look forward to more of your contributions at Aragon One!

This post was a collaboration between

John Light, Monica Zeng, Aragon One

  • John Light
  • Monica Zeng
  • Aragon One