IT Brief UK - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
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IWD 2024: People count (not just accountants)
Thu, 7th Mar 2024

My career evolution from finance to operations has formed my belief in giving people opportunities that are based on strengths and potential rather than experience alone. I started my career as a professional accountant in a large sports company with a very corporate environment. Since then, I’ve worked with high-growth businesses across several industries and have had the opportunity to diversify my experience across marketing, commercial and operational roles.

As Zuto’s COO, I am responsible for the overall delivery of the business while making sure that the needs of our customers, partners, lenders and suppliers are all met. Key to this is creating a positive environment for people to work together, built on aligned values, with diversity and trust, where people are able to challenge each other.

People, planet, profit 

At Zuto we have ambitious growth plans which demand a lot from employees. Expecting people to conform to a traditional business persona is not only an unnecessary pressure but also acts as an active barrier to doing great things. Embracing what makes us all different is the key ingredient to high-performance teams, so we encourage employees (whom we call Zutonites) to be their authentic selves. I personally have gained confidence by accepting I may not fit into the stereotype of a leader. Being myself has given me more enjoyment from work and created more trusting relationships with my team. I want everyone at Zuto to be able to do that. 

This approach has really helped us through B Corp certification, which we achieved earlier this year. B Corp requires businesses to strategically align their practices with ESG considerations in mind. It demands significant resources and commitment and couldn’t have happened without the involvement and support of all the Zutonites. It’s crucial to make sure everyone is on board with a process like this so that it is meaningful and, when achieved, everyone is proud of it. 

Hybrid working challenges 

Finding the best way to communicate within a growing business was a challenge during the pandemic, and it continues to be now, with the prominence of hybrid working. Being present in the office, talking to people and having incidental conversations in the kitchen doesn’t happen as often, so it can be harder to build relationships and spot talent. 

It’s important to make a conscious effort to seek out employee successes and to nurture talent in new and junior team members. We have encouraged more experienced employees in this role, and I’m proud that over the last 12 months, almost 20% of Zuto staff have had a promotion or new internal opportunity. 

Support from top to bottom 

Zuto’s people-first approach runs through the organisation. At our core, we care about people: Zutonites and customers alike. Creating an environment where we can all flourish and deliver great things while being able to fail learn and have fun along the way is vital. Trust is the key ingredient to this. Every Friday, the leadership team take a walk around Manchester - a great way to foster free talk. I know that I can be 100% vulnerable in these conversations and be met with full support. No one has all of the answers, and people go through different struggles, so being able to talk without judgment is amazing. This open and supportive environment is how we build strong teams at Zuto, which are the engines of our success