Advice / Career Paths / Career Stories

Coinbase’s Head of Crypto Recruiting Shares How to Break Into the Fast-Changing Industry

Shannon Henry-Matsuo, the Head of Crypto Recruiting at Coinbase
Shannon Henry-Matsuo, the Head of Crypto Recruiting at Coinbase.
| Courtesy of Coinbase

Shannon Henry-Matsuo has a well-timed—and well-written—email to thank for her current job as the Head of Crypto Recruiting at Coinbase. When she received the note from a senior recruiter asking if she was interested in the role, “I had just started to think about what my next career move would be, and knew I wanted to join a crypto or Web3 company,” she says.

“The note sparked my attention—I remember telling my husband how impressed I was with it, and that Coinbase must be pretty special to have this person leading their executive recruiting team,” Henry-Matsuo adds.

After researching the company and its co-founder Brian Armstrong, Henry-Matsuo was all in. “I wanted to be a part of attracting and hiring the people who were going to increase economic freedom for all—and, hey, my title was going to be hard to top!” she says.

Here, Henry-Matsuo shares how she fell into recruiting, why you should consider a resume NFT, and what the onboarding process at Coinbase is like.

What inspired you to pursue a career in recruiting, and what do you love most about it?

I started my career journey in visual effects at Industrial Light & Magic, where I did resource and technical people management. After almost nine years there, I was ready for a career and industry change. A mentor thought I would be perfect for recruiting. I recall thanking her for the suggestion, but replying that I didn’t go to college to become a recruiter. Clearly, I caved to her advice. It’s been the single best choice I’ve made besides marrying my best friend and having my daughter. I even “recruited” my niece into the profession.

What I love most about it is the opportunity I have had to connect amazing people with their dream company and job. And when I was able to combine my love for recruiting with my love of being a leader, I discovered the best way to amplify my impact and happiness. I have been living my best life for years and I don’t ever take the opportunities I have experienced in my career for granted.

How did you know Coinbase would be a good fit?

I knew the company would be a good fit for many reasons. Coinbase’s mission, values, and the products we were building to create an open financial system all appealed to me. As I went through the interview process, I was impressed with everyone I met. The people are wicked smart and I knew right away I wanted it to be my new work home.

I also loved that we had chosen to embrace remote work since I wanted to start my day with my daughter and be home when she returned from school—something that I had never been able to do prior to the pandemic. I also really liked the size of Coinbase and our ambitious goals. Everything just aligned perfectly and I have never looked back.

What are you responsible for in your role?

I lead our crypto and security recruiting teams and am responsible for developing and driving our recruiting strategies globally. My role allows me to experiment, innovate, and build and I am encouraged and expected to think outside of the box, which I love. A crypto winter—a period when the cryptocurrency market downturns—hit shortly after I joined so my first six months have been a bit different than I expected, but my small teams are busy preparing for our next crypto spring and we are supporting our security organization with some business-critical hiring.

How has your previous experience recruiting in the gaming industry set you up for success at Coinbase?

My background in the game industry, augmented and virtual reality, and technology have prepared me well and will play a role in my success at Coinbase. I have built and scaled global sourcing and recruiting teams that have been responsible for hiring one-of-a-kind talent.

I also think the game world will play a significant role in onboarding people into our industry. Game people are always on the edge of new technology and play. There will be endless ways for game talent to innovate as we continue to build Web3 and the metaverse, and crypto will be a universal way people can pay for assets, NFTs, etc.

What can a candidate do to set themselves apart during the recruiting process?

At Coinbase, we are looking for people who are passionate about learning about crypto, using our products, and staying ahead of our fast-changing industry. For anyone interested in breaking into the industry, my advice is to do a lot of research. Come prepared for interviews by reading up on the company’s mission and culture so you can ask the right questions and show that you did your homework.

There are new ways to stand out in our industry that are only just starting to take hold. Resume NFTs are already a thing and companies are building software that will verify your on-chain activity, replacing the need for a LinkedIn profile. Curiosity, passion, and resilience are all characteristics that will pay off in our industry.

What are some questions every candidate should ask in an interview?

My advice to candidates is to remember that they are interviewing the company, too, so think about what you hope to learn during the interview process and come prepared with questions. It’s always a red flag for me when candidates don’t have anything they want to find out about the company or the role they might step into. I also suggest asking the interviewers if they have any concerns over your ability to be successful in the role or at the company.

What is it like to be a new hire at Coinbase? What is the onboarding process like and how does it set employees up for success?

Being a new hire in our remote-first world can be daunting, but we are continuously looking at ways to make the experience richer and more engaging. We invest a lot into making sure new hires have a great experience and are set up for success.

Coinbase has a very unique culture. We move really fast and live by our cultural tenets, one of which is “clear communication.” New hires learn early on how we attack and solve problems and how we lead effective meetings. We share a lot of helpful information and tools when people first join so it can feel like a lot to ingest, but everyone is invested in each other’s success so there is a lot of support and help as you onboard. I have only been with the company for seven months and I feel like I was able to make a true impact early on, which had everything to do with the quality of my onboarding.

Other than remote work, what aspects of the company culture at Coinbase gets candidates most excited?

Our mission is something that candidates get excited about and easily connect with since there is a pride and deep passion that comes with being a part of creating economic freedom for the world. Our cultural tenets help paint our ideal state and what we are all collectively aspiring towards. They not only make us better, but unite us. Our employees are what make our culture so special. From the moment you interview to the day you start as a new hire, it feels like family.

How would you sell working at Coinbase to a candidate?

If you are looking for a company that invites you to learn on the job and invest in our products, and incentivizes you to try them in order to learn more about our offerings and crypto in general, look no further. If you want to work with people who are smarter than you and yet have very little ego, and you are passionate about crypto and Web3, this might be your dream company. If you want to be a part of bringing economic freedom to the world—which will open up new opportunities across the globe—this is the place to build your crypto career.

Updated 11/1/2022