Leading a Movement
The first 60 days of transitioning and setting the stage to lead a transformational movement.
Webber Kerr’s President Adam Lloyd meets with Souheil Badran, CEO and President of edo Interactive, as they discuss assimilation, establishing credibility and changing the way we shop and save.
Souheil is an e-commerce and technology solutions executive having led in the likes of Digital River, Inc. and First Data Corporation. His latest move is leading edo Interactive, a digital solutions provider with a mission to transform how consumers spend.
AL: Souheil, how did you end up making the move to the smaller, venture-backed organization, edo Interactive? What enticed you?
SB: After selling to a Private Equity, I had looked at different companies at different stages of growth. I was impressed with the can-do culture at edo, the partner and customer base, and the quality of our venture backers. Edo is full of brilliant people who all understand what we are trying to do as a company, which is build a way for consumers to enjoy a seamless saving and shopping experience. Many of our colleagues even use our Prewards platform through their banks, which is evidence to me that what we are creating is a valuable marketing technology.
AL: Tell me about assimilating yourself in your first 60 days at edo. What were your most important actions to establish yourself and gain true buy-in?
SB: As my team can tell you, I’ve spent the first few months at edo getting to know everyone at the company, as well as our stakeholders. I’ve been to all our offices multiple times, and have spent time with our key partners.
My appointment as CEO was the first major leadership change so it was very important to me that everyone felt comfortable with the transition, strategy, and with me personally. We have a very strong startup culture at edo and I want to make sure that continues and we don’t become a typical corporate workplace.
I was also very open with my 30-60 day plans and shared that across the employee base. I also measured myself against that plan, and shared the results as well. I am big proponent of accountability and visibility across the board.
AL: There’s a lot of buzz around edo’s raised capital and your arrival. What is your strategy for leading edo’s transformation of shopping and saving?
SB: As any CEO will tell you, I want to grow the company through organic growth, acquisitions, and partnerships! We have some great partnerships with financial institutions and with advertisers, and I want to grow those as well as find new partners. We’re also looking at some international expansion and some product upgrades.
We want to be the premier provider of targeted, data-driven marketing – I want us to move beyond card-linked offers and look at other ways that we can give consumers that seamless transaction experience that helps them save money.
AL: Having worked within larger organizations, are there different skill-sets or cultural attributes you seek to hire now to suit the environment of a smaller business, let’s say rather than in a First Data environment?
SB: I love working with the “Millennial” age group – they get a bad rap, but it’s critical for our any business to have them around because they are driving the next big market and we need to know what they think and how they want to use technology. It does mean we have to offer more flexibility as a company, but the startup culture which is less corporate is really ideal for that younger cohort of employees.
As a CEO, I gravitate to people who are sophisticated, analytical and have a lot of energy. I prefer to hire someone who comes to me with an interesting background and a good personal story rather than someone who merely knows how to do a job (although that is important too!). In a small business, you have to give more consideration to personalities and how everyone will fit in, because everyone works more closely together.
AL: What advice would you give other executives that are considering jumping from larger ships to join a start-up or smaller company environment?
SB: My top advice is to understand that what you did at Company X won’t necessarily be appropriate for Company Y. If you come from a big company, it can be difficult to adjust your expectations and ways of working. You need to go into a startup or a smaller organization with an open mind, and maybe a few ideas about what you do or don’t like about it, but be willing to listen to employees and observe what they like and don’t like. You can’t come in from Day 1 and be the new sheriff in town: “this is how it’s going to be”. It takes collaboration at all levels to ensure that you have a good strategy and good corporate culture. Get ready to dig deep and roll up the sleeves.