Nov 11, 2021
With a PhD in nanotechnology from National Tsinghua University in Taiwan and a fellowship with Academia Sinica, Dr. Krishnendu Chatterjee (Krish) was well set on his path to an illustrious career in the medical science industry. But a night at a bar in Germany completely reset his course.
Now as a Business Development Manager for XREX Inc., a Taipei-based blockchain neo fintech, Krish is instrumental in forming strategic partnerships and coming up with new ways to optimize products fit for clients. Working at XREX, a 60-plus person team comprised of global talents from Singapore, the US, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Republic of North Macedonia, and Taiwan, Krish plays an important role in XREX’s key projects to better serve cross-border merchants in emerging economies, including those in India, his motherland.
In an interview with Meet.jobs, Krish shared why he made the pivot, why he took a gamble on XREX, how he adapted to working for a start-up and suggestions he has for other foreign nationals who want to work in Taiwan.
What is your background?
I was born and raised in Kolkata, West Bengal, a city of 13 million people and known as the food and culture capital of India. Like most Bengalis in India, my parents put a strong emphasis on education, but they always respected my choices and never forced me to do something. Growing up, I aspired to be in the biotech industry and thought I would eventually work for a big healthcare or pharmaceutical company, working on the next breakthrough medical discovery.
Why did you jump from biotech to blockchain?
In 2016, I was in my last year of my PhD study and I attended a conference in Germany. One night at a bar, for the first time I saw people paying for their drinks with their phones. It was my first introduction to the Peer-to-Peer (P2P) model. I was immediately enthralled by the idea of a decentralized platform in which people had the autonomy to transact however they pleased in an open, secure and transparent way. I felt excited and I wanted to learn more about it and be part of this digital revolution. By the end of 2016, I began to invest in Bitcoin.
As I was approaching graduation, I seriously contemplated whether I wanted to be a biotech technician or a business development professional in the blockchain industry. After completing my Ph.D., I took a month to engage with people and analyze the pros and cons of both paths, the choice was clear. I am the type of person who likes talking to people, learning new things then building upon it. I also like to participate in the entire process, rather than just being a small part of it. Jumping over to business development just made sense.
How did you prepare yourself to make the jump?
In September 2017, I began to work for a Taiwan-based blockchain technology firm called Digital Treasury Corporation (DTCO) as a Sales and Business Development Manager. For six months, I forced myself to spend at least two hours a day reading all sorts of news articles, ICOs, white papers and learning about different protocols. This regular and continuous learning helped me form my own knowledge about blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The result of this practice further convinced me that I made the right career choice in transitioning to a business development role in the blockchain industry.
How did you learn about XREX?
By 2019, I had joined another company called Infinity Blockchain Labs headquartered in Vietnam. I was a Business Development consultant based out of Taipei. Around that time, the co-founder and CEO of XREX, Wayne Huang, a globally renowned cybersecurity expert, went to Vietnam for a meeting and I was tasked to arrange a meeting for my CEO and Wayne. That was how I came to know about XREX and how they are using this disruptive technology to help cross-border merchants in developing countries.
Fast forward a year later, the Covid-19 pandemic forced Infinity to shutter its Taipei office. I had the choice of quitting or going to Vietnam. I wanted to continue my career in the crypto industry so I reached out to different startups in Taiwan, including Wayne. I was lucky to receive Wayne’s prompt reply on LinkedIn and started the interview process, which lasted for two months. I spoke with my direct-supervisor as well as C-suite leaders. It was a grueling process, but proved to be well worth the wait.
Why did you choose XREX?
XREX is using blockchain to solve a long-standing issue that has stifled many crossborder merchants and entrepreneurs in emerging markets, including in India.
According to Indian government policy, individuals are not able to own USD-denominated bank accounts. For cross-border merchants, the inability to access US dollars is a major stumbling block that can really derail their dreams and operations.
XREX’s products and services also help me personally. As an Indian professional working abroad, I also faced the challenge of sending money home due to the policy. To send money home via the traditional banking system is time-consuming, expensive and inefficient. Using blockchain, XREX is solving this issue for people from my country and I am more than happy to be part of it, as I am benefited as well.
Furthermore, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to leverage cryptocurrencies rather than purely exploring blockchain technology. XREX is able to take full advantage of cryptocurrencies as a tool for international financial clearance. This is a concept I understand extremely well and I believe with my experience, skill and passion, I can contribute to XREX’s mission of leveling the playing field and driving financial inclusion so more people can have equal access to global commerce.
What were your initial challenges in XREX and how did you overcome them?
The first challenge was working with a bigger team and how to work with different groups of people. For the first three months, I spent the bulk of my time learning about the culture and how to get things done. While I was confident about my BD job, I struggled to communicate with people from different backgrounds and get them involved in my projects. I was fortunate enough to have my supervisor, Yoyo Yu, and one of our co-founders, Winston Hsiao, who both lived in India before. They really offered some useful guidance.
Another challenge which I thoroughly enjoyed was that I had to take the initiative and do many experiments as XREX was still finding its product market fit. One thing I was really proud of was proving the C2C market was worthy of our company’s resources and investment. Stretching our services to the C2C market has had a significant impact on the company’s expansion strategy.
At XREX, apart from business development, I also had the opportunity to work with the compliance team and the marketing team. It is important to remember that working at a start-up, you might be plunged into multiple roles that are not directly related to the position you were hired to do. But I kept an open mind and a positive attitude. By doing so, I learned a lot from those projects which helped me excel in my job and acquire new knowledge on various facets.
What’s your advice to foreign professionals who want to work in Taiwan?
It is vital to understand that culture comes first and business comes later. There are two aspects of culture — company culture and social culture. Only when you know the company culture, will you know whether you are a good fit for it or not.
And only when you know the social culture of the country you are working in, you are able to work with people in the same office and make things happen. For example, the way Indians talk sometimes might be too direct to many Taiwanese.
Another tip is to prepare a Chinese resumé. It is not enough to just have an English one. The HR departments don’t always ask for one, but it will really make you stand out if you have a Chinese resumé ready to share.
Dr. Krishnendu Charterjee
Business Development, XREX Inc.
- Ph.D in Nanobiotechnology, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan
- – Master in Chemical Engineering, National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, India
- – Bachelor in Biotechnology, Haldia Institute of Technology, West Bengal, India
- Business development consultant, Infinity Blockchain Labs, Taiwan
- Sales & BD Manager, DTCO, Taiwan
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