Joanna Swash is Group CEO at Moneypenny, a leading provider of outsourced phone answering, live chat and digital communications. She explains her job role and her management philosophy.
Describe your current job role.
My role is in building passion around our vision and nurturing our amazing culture of trust, openness and empowerment, allowing our brilliant people to do brilliant things. A good day for me is when people don’t need me but are aware of what they need to do for us to achieve our goals.
My door is always open (mobile always available for calls) and I believe in a in a very hands-on type approach. Being non-hierarchical enables us to be agile and creates a genuinely wonderful working environment with engaged and empowered staff who feel, and very much are, a key part of our company’s success and continued growth.
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
Welcoming VoiceNation and Ninja Number to the Moneypenny family has been an exciting time, especially as the acquisition went through days before lockdown when Coronavirus was taking hold. Listening and learning from the founders and discovering such similar approaches to business and the combination of people and technology, was fascinating. Only heightened by the fact we had to finalise everything virtually, from merging our technology, integrating teams and meeting new team members. And we have just launched our state-of-the-art 27,000 sq ft headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia which will house up to 225 staff across all three businesses.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
I believe in authentic, compassionate leadership in business. Showing empathy, cultivating trust, empowering people and being open and honest are all important skills, that we as human beings, not just leaders, can develop and should prioritise.
For example, empathy opens doors, removes confusion and it develops deeper levels of trust and loyalty. When people are open, they can be more creative in solving problems in ways that drive productivity and success. As a CEO it is hugely important to surround yourself with brilliant people who are full of ideas and that can enhance your skills and knowledge to lead more effectively.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
Our people and our tech. The wellbeing of our people is at the core of our culture so we spend a lot of time on them, from recruiting the right people to creating a safe environment and empowering them to be the best that they can be. Without brilliant people, we cannot innovate and respond to business and client needs so they are always a major area of investment.
On the technology side we are focusing on Artificial Intelligence, embracing new technologies to ensure our human connections. In doing so we are further bridging the gap between how we communicate and what a computer understands. We are actively leveraging, monitoring and testing new language processing models to analyse, summarise and advance our live chat and digital switchboard offerings and using AI and cutting-edge tech to help our PA’s be even faster and provide an awesome service for our clients.
If you could go back and change one career decision what would it be?
I am a firm believer that decisions in the past make you who you are today. We learn from everything, positive and negative so anything changed in the past would mean I am not where I am now. So, no regrets – if you learn one important lesson from everything you do, it has been well worth the experience.
What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain C-level position in your industry?
Do not aim for a C-level position! Aim to add value to the business you are in, inspire those around you, be creative at driving growth and efficiencies, be innovative and forward focused and the right rewards will one day be yours. A job title means nothing – it is the actions and person behind it that are important.
What behaviour or personality trait do you most attribute your success to, and why?
Authenticity. I am who I am. I am not perfect, but I know my strengths and my weaknesses, and I am always looking to learn. Knowing who you are is something that is hugely significant for our culture at Moneypenny, without a level of self-awareness we cannot understand and empathise with others, we cannot communicate and we cannot empower others to be the best version of themselves.
What’s your go-to productivity trick?
Take a step away, turn off the notifications and the phone and write a list! A walk is very good for thinking through problems. I am always on and always available, but for my own good I need to walk away sometimes and stop the noise!
What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?
What changes haven’t we seen? From growth mindset to cost-cutting and back again. At the beginning of this pandemic, I took a moment, thought about who I need to be to get us through this and how I want to be described afterwards. And that has been a true focal point for me.
For the next 12 months what is important it to be agile, flexible, open and honest and to keep providing a brilliant service for our clients. Who knows what and who we need to be, but we do need to be adaptable and ready for change.Click below to share this article