Big Interview

Alys Martin,

Head of People at What3words

As Head of People at What3words, Alys Martin loves the pace and dynamism of a tech company - and thrives on the value of 'Ready Fire Aim', as well as sharing an unusual original career goal focused on medieval times...

Interview by Jenny Holliday

What3words has been used for everything from finding a person who needs an ambulance to the address for a wedding venue, all the way through to helping healthcare in Africa. The premise is simple - each three metre squared area of the planet has its own unique set of three words - totally random combinations. This global address system has become a benchmark for locating people in distress, but it's also used for the everyday. For example, finding your tent at a festival or spot on the beach.

After joining the company in January 2023, Head of People Alys Martin shares her own story of discovery in the HR world from publishing to FinTech...

I have never looked back working in tech, it's brilliant. It's just it's exciting. It moves really quickly. People tend to be incredibly passionate about what they do a really bright with it.

You’re Head of People – what does the role involve?

We’re a team of three, and I’m the top of the team – there are three of us who are people generalists, and also a head of talent acquisition. I mostly work with our senior management, and I've worked with them to sort of understand kind of what we're doing, what are our strategy, what's our strategy, what we're, what we're aiming to achieve. And then I work out how the people bit fits within that. It might be asking whether we need to recruit more people, train people up for certain things, do we need to consider salary and the right money to get people to stay and attract new people. We want to create a wonderful culture for people to work in, and it's succeeding - our culture is incredible. We’ve got some really lovely values that go with that. So my role is making sure that we, as an organisation, uphold those every day. I think because of the sort of scale of ambition and ambition here, people work with an incredible amount of passion and motivation. So my role is making sure people are happy and healthy and doing the right kind of thing, and that we are genuinely pushing forward.

Tell us more about the values at What3words

I think my favourite one is, is possibly ready fire aim. Yes, that's the right way around - it's about just cracking on and getting stuff done and refining later! Hand in hand with that is making mistakes. It’s about the support we build for each other, that real sense of community, where it doesn’t matter if we make mistakes, we try again, we improve, we do something better. It's amazing what a team, but it's not a massive team. It's 150 people. It's amazing, really achieving globally as a result. It's yeah, it's incredible.


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