IAM919- CEO Leads Answering Service Company

Podcast Interview with Joanna Swash

Recruited as Moneypenny’s first salesperson in 2005 – today, Joanna is Group CEO of an international business that has grown to employ more than 1000 people across continents, turning over £50m in 2020. Joanna played a key role in overseeing the company’s entry into the US market, as well as subsequent private equity investment by ECI Partners in 2018 to accelerate Moneypenny’s UK & US plans for expansion and acquisition. At the heart of Moneypenny lies a unique culture based on mutual respect and trust. Above all else, when it comes to outsourced communications, Joanna believes passionately that businesses of any size should ‘stick to their knitting’: “Focus on what you’re really good at – and let experts help take care of the rest.”

  • CEO Hack: Take a break if you can (ii) Book- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
  • CEO Nugget: Wait for the person you think would do an amazing job in your team and leave it to them to deliver (ii) Trust your guts
  • CEO Defined: Being trusted with people's livelihoods and careers


LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/moneypenny-usa/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Moneypenny
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HelloMoneypennyUS

Full Interview:

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00:15 – Intro

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

00:44 – Gresham Harkless

Hello, Hello, Hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Joanna Swash of Moneypenny. Joanna, it's awesome to have you on the show.

00:52 – Joanna Swash

Oh, thank you very much for having me on the show.

00:55 – Gresham Harkless

No problem. Super excited to have you on. And before we jump into the interview, I want to read a little bit more about Joanna so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing. Recruited as Moneypenny's first salesperson in 2005, today Joanna is the group CEO of an international business that has grown to employ more than 1000 people across continents, turning over 50 million pounds in 2020. Joanna played a key role in overseeing the company's entry into the US market as well as a subsequent private equity investment by UCI partners in 2018 to accelerate Moneypenny UK and US plans for expansion and acquisition.

And at the heart of Moneypenny lies a unique culture based on mutual respect and love. And above all else, when it comes to outsourcing communications, Joanna believes passionately that businesses of any size should stick to the knitting, focus on what you're really good at, and let experts take care of all the rest. Joanna, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

01:49 – Joanna Swash

I really am.

01:50 – Gresham Harkless

Awesome, well, let's do it then. So to kind of kick everything off, I know I read a little bit in your bio. Could you take us through what I call your CEO story? Well, let's get started with all the awesome work you're doing.

01:59 – Joanna Swash

Oh, I see your story. So I started, I've been a CEO for 4 years now, amazing, but I've been in this business for 16 years. So, you know, from when it was really, really tiny, first salesperson like you said, and now I run this most amazing business. It's got a thousand people both over the UK and 2 offices in Atlanta and Charleston. And it's just incredible. So I feel like I have a different job every single, every 6 months or so it completely changes.

02:29 – Gresham Harkless

Yeah, and kind of seems like that, especially, you know, with this past year and just in the world in general, it's something that's always evolving. So you have to be very resilient, very flexible with everything that's happening. But it definitely sounds like you've had that in a row.

02:41 – Joanna Swash

Oh, you do. You know, we've got 21,000 businesses on both sides of the Atlantic relying on us to do the right thing for them, you know, answering their calls, answering their live chats. So yeah, we've had to be really agile and flexible over the last 12 months to make sure that people can still rely on us no matter what the, what the environment looks like.

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03:00 – Gresham Harkless

Yeah, absolutely. It's so important and reliability and being able to be consistent is, you know, something that's often underestimated, but something that's entirely huge. And so for people that are just maybe not aware of what Moneypenny is, Can you take us through a little bit more on what you and your team do and what exactly that looks like for your clients?

03:20 – Joanna Swash

Absolutely. So businesses of all sizes across so many different sectors rely on us to look after their communications for them. So we're either the first port of call on the telephone answering their calls just as if we're based in their offices and that goes from huge multinational law firms and corporations down to tiny micro businesses that just want a little bit of peace and quiet and for the phone to stop ringing and also looking for their looking after their live chats online as well. Because of course, the whole world of consumer communications is just changing so rapidly. And a lot of that used to be maybe over the phones, et cetera, is actually going to digital channels instead. So yeah, we're looking after brands' reputations for businesses large and small.

04:04 – Gresham Harkless

Yeah, and it's so funny. I think I just was writing something yesterday and I was talking about how so many times people forget that your online presence is something that people know about your business, know about your brand before, sometimes they even have those communications. And when they have those communications, they want to make sure that they have that alignment. So it sounds like you're the very sticky glue that's necessary to be able to connect with clients, but also build those relationships and turn them into potential clients.

04:31 – Joanna Swash

Yes, absolutely. And as people's businesses have had to change so quickly, you know, over the past 12 months, etc. I think business leaders have taken a big step back and thought, how do I need, you know, this is my opportunity to do things differently, what tools and services are at my disposal that maybe I just wouldn't have thought about before? So yeah, we've had a really, really busy, particularly the last 6 months, as people just really start to think what does the future of work look like and do I really need my office anymore?

05:01 – Gresham Harkless

Yeah, and so that was definitely part of, you know, what I read about is just during disruptive times, a lot of times things get permanently shifted. And when you start to ask those questions, especially as a leader, you start to wonder, you know, what is the future work as you said, but also how can we position ourselves in that brand and that ability to have that opportunity in the future?

05:24 – Joanna Swash

Yeah, it just seems that it's sped up change, doesn't it? A lot of things are changing anyway, whether people are moving to a more home working model or a hybrid mix, or look at the retailers with the growth of their online presence. Well, that's just shot up, hasn't it? It's almost catapulted forward 5 or 10 years and just changed the way we're all working.

05:44 – Gresham Harkless

Yeah, absolutely. And so I wanted to ask you for what I call your secret sauce. This could be for yourself or your business or a combination of both, but what do you feel kind of sets you apart and makes you unique?

05:55 – Joanna Swash

You know, I think it may often be said, but I really, mean it. Our secret sauce is our people and our culture and the way that we really, look after each other. I believe in real authentic leadership. I believe in openness and honesty. There's only 1 version of me. You know, what you see is what you get. I'm not a different person according to who you are. And I just think that's our secret source of being able to put yourself in the shoes of other people, whether it's the people that work with you or whether it's your customers who use your services and think what do these guys want from me? And that's what you have to deliver. And so I just think it's getting to know people and truly understand what makes people tick.

06:36 – Gresham Harkless

Yeah, absolutely. And I think so many times we think it's 1 thing of this, everybody wants X, Y, and Z, but we don't really look at that human aspect of business understanding that each individual wants something unique. And I think that as you said so well, that word brand kind of resonated with me because when you realize that the people that work with you represent your brand, you start to take care of them because you want your brand taken care of. And I think so many times we zoom past that in business.

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07:04 – Joanna Swash

Absolutely. And 1 of our complete USPs is the fact that we give, you know if a client uses us to answer their calls, we give them a named individual. It's not a call center approach. So my job now is to make sure that I keep that person happy and working at Moneypenny and that they don't want to go anywhere else, you know? So actually, yeah, that's my big focus. And if I can keep the people happy, then our people can keep our customers happy.

07:28 – Gresham Harkless

Absolutely. And things just start to create that great snowball effect from there. So I absolutely love that secret sauce. And so I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

07:48 – Joanna Swash

I have a couple of ones that spring to mind here. Perfect. So I love the saying, if you're going at a Ferrari pace, you need Ferrari brakes. Because we all go hurtling through life, don't we? But actually, the faster you go, the more you need to think about how you're going to stop because you can't go along in a Ferrari and then just go and apply a little bit of brake pressure because you're just not going to stop and you're going to crash and burn. So especially in this current environment, I think everybody's just getting a bit exhausted. Take a step back if you can, just have a break.

There's a book I love as well which is Lencioni, The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team and the reason I love that book is because it talks about the room of trust, openness, honesty, everybody in that room, a senior leadership team being able to say exactly what they think without any kind of, you know, negativity towards them. And I think that's so important that you can trust and be very honest and open with the people that you're working with. And I think that's the way that people can be, really, really create a scalable, effective, profitable business.

08:53 – Gresham Harkless

Yeah, absolutely love those hacks. And as you said, that culture that you talked about in your secret sauce, reigns true because I think, especially as leaders, you have to be encouraged and want to create that culture where people do feel confident to say what's best for the company, say what's best for the goals to be met. And as you said so well, make sure that you are aware that If you go fast, you also have to breakfast as well. And you have to make sure that it's a marathon and you're paying attention to those things that help us to run and to continue to move forward.

09:24 – Joanna Swash

That's right.

09:25 – Gresham Harkless

Awesome, Awesome, Awesome. So now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. So This could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something you would tell a client or if you happen to be a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

09:38 – Joanna Swash

Okay, so what my CEO nugget would be, you don't go and hire people just because that's the best you can find. Go and wait for the person that you think, this person is amazing. They are going to do a great job for me. Don't compromise. Once you've got that person in your business, give them clarity, make sure they really understand what it is there to deliver and what good looks like for you as a leader, and then trust them and leave them to it. Be there to support them but know that they're the expert in that area. Don't be tempted to micromanage. Come on leaders, go and create some space in your own diary, and go and create something else and leave your people to it. So really trust them. And I think that leads to the fact of trusting your gut as well. If something doesn't feel right, it's not. So don't try and paper over the cracks. Just go and fix it.

10:30 – Gresham Harkless

Yeah, absolutely love those nuggets. And I think you hit home on a really strong point that I think so many times we forget as leaders is, you know, that we have a vacancy or we have maybe a new, you know, offering that we want to start to bring on. We want to bring that person in order to do that and make that happen. We're so quick to want to make sure that happens. We want to turn on that Ferrari engine and go. But a lot of times the hiring and the start of the onboarding process, so to speak, is really the recruiting and understanding and the research and finding the right person. And because once you take the time to do that, you have that opportunity to create that environment, find the right person, and then let them just do what they do.

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11:12 – Joanna Swash

That's right. Get out of their way, let it happen.

11:15 – Gresham Harkless

Yeah, absolutely. And I think so many times we forget that. So it's a great nugget and something that we should definitely kind of keep in mind. And so now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quotes, quote CEOs on the show. So Joanna, what does being a CEO mean to you?

11:34 – Joanna Swash

What a CEO means to me is that I'm being trusted with people's livelihoods and people's future careers. It's my job to go and make sure that we can grow the business, that it's scalable, that it's profitable, and that it's a really lovely place for people to work. And my job is to make sure that I grow myself so that people can step into my shoes. I've got to create the vacuum. I've got to grow and get out of people's way so that people can follow me up through the business.

12:02 – Gresham Harkless

Yeah, and I feel like your story, you know, resonates with that so well as far as that growth, because I think so many times we forget about the growth. You know, other companies, we often think about that we forget about the growth of and how we create that culture and that environment. But so it sounds like you've had that experience.

12:17 – Joanna Swash

Yes, absolutely. We've all got to go and do something every day that scares us, don't we? And no matter how much experience you've got, you've still got to keep putting yourself out there.

12:26 – Gresham Harkless

Yeah, it's so important to do that because that's where all the magic and the great things happen. So you have to make sure we get outside of our comfort zone. So Joanna, I truly appreciate that definition. And I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know. And of course, how best they can get ahold of you and find out about all the awesome things you and your team are working on.

12:48 – Joanna Swash

Oh, if anybody would love to talk, I love to talk, I don't know if you can tell. So if anybody wants to have a little chat, that'd be wonderful. My email address is Joanna. swash at moneypenny.co.uk. Go and have a look at our website, moneypenny.com, so that you can have a really good look and see how we can help businesses of all sizes.

13:08 – Joanna Swash

And if you think you've got a problem with your phone calls or your live chats, then we're here to help you, we're the guys to talk to.

13:13 – Gresham Harkless

Yeah, absolutely. I definitely appreciate that. We will have the links and information in the show notes. And so many times we forget, as we talked about before, that communication is the name of the game to be able to communicate with your clients, your potential clients, and keep those lanes open for that to happen. So I definitely appreciate you and your team for making sure that happens and enabling and empowering so many businesses to be able to communicate and communicate well and showcase their brand. So truly appreciate you again, Joanna, and appreciate your time again, and I hope you have a great rest of the day.

14:00 – Outro

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes Google Play and everywhere you listen to podcasts, SUBSCRIBE, and leave us a five-star rating grab CEO gear at www.ceogear.co. This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.


Mercy - CBNation Team

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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