What do you currently do?
I am the CEO of the Smart Currency business, which combines three distinct enterprises: an international payment service for private individuals; a separate corporate international payment service tailored towards SMEs; and another offering information and support to individuals looking at buying property and/or emigrating abroad.
Given these separate businesses, my role is a highly diversified one and I actively work with staff across all three to develop a cogent and coherent business model, for what in many ways is a very simple business, but with quite varied marketing channels.
What is your inspiration in business?
I take inspiration from seeing individuals and start up businesses reach their full potential. It is very gratifying, and inspires not just me, but all of my team when we receive wonderful testimonials from our clients thanking us for a positive experience. Offering a quality service that makes a genuine difference to our customers’ success when dealing overseas, whether personally or in business, encourages me to continue doing what we do and to strive to do so even better.
Who do you admire?
Steve Jobs was someone I always respected – who could not admire a man who could see the need for simplicity and quality, and turned Apple around to become the largest company in the world by making the company focus its product development on those traits. He understood the need for all parts of the team to work together and not as individual business units. Yet despite his approach to innovation, he also recognised the importance of luck in ending up where he did in the business world. Pixar made him a huge amount of money when he sold it to Disney for its film creativity. This was not the reason he had originally invested for.
Looking back, would you have done things differently?
I don’t have any regrets, as I have been very lucky to do so many things in life, from designing military aircraft to mining diamonds! And while many of these experiences seem on face value to occupy divergent paths, they have all shown me that knowledge is the key to bringing about positive change. Business education is something I wish I had done more of in the early years of my career, but thankfully that is something that can always be acquired as you are never too old to learn! Also if you are open minded you can learn a lot about business and become “qualified by experience”.
What defines your way of doing business?
Believing in customer service and building trust by treating people correctly are at the heart of any successful business. There are so many companies out there offering the same products and services as their competitors, but being able to genuinely connect with your customers, build a trusting, value-adding relationship with them and always being on hand to help them is priceless in the rewards it returns to the business. This philosophy extends to corporate suppliers and partners, too. In today’s inter-connected world, people are all too willing and able to sing the praises of a company which has treated them well – and talk down one that has left them feeling hard done by.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Work hard, enjoy the ride and be flexible. What you think will happen is the last thing that will actually happen, so always maintain a flexible approach and be willing to change when the need arises. Business is hard so don’t expect an easy ride. There will be some dark days – but always remember to be positive as this will rub off on your colleagues.