Stamford is now 15 years old! .…what a journey it has been! For this festive occasion, our CEO Jenny Johnston grabbed a pen and paper and reflected on her last 15 years as the founder of the company.
People often ask me what it was like to build Stamford, the ups and downs of 15 years of leading a company. So I thought maybe it was about time to put it down on paper.
Biggest Lesson Learned
We started the business with a clear idea of the type of company we wanted to be and where we wanted to go. This vision of our culture and mission ensured that things went really well until we started to grow very quickly. Then all of sudden we started to see cracks, we started to see some of the issues that come when an organisation has a weak or unclear culture.
We asked ourselves how we could maintain our values and culture when we aren’t hiring everyone ourselves or managing everyone ourselves. So we got smart and realised that we needed to focus our internal efforts on encouraging the most important thing in the company, a clear internal culture based on our specific values and beliefs. Thankfully we have it back!
Being a foreign woman who was a mother and who along with great partners and colleagues is still here after 15 years. I was nervous and often intimidated and sometimes my confidence in my ability to lead wavered but I just pushed through and didn’t think about what I was up against. I had two choices, get on with it and give it everything I had or give up. I had the trust of my family and a commitment to myself to succeed, quitting was not an option. Rather than become overwhelmed with all the roadblocks in my path, I just took one day a time and focussed on the long term goals.
What went well
I always believe in hiring great people and giving them the trust and space to develop. We were so lucky, especially in the beginning, to find talented and committed employees who loved what they did and worked side by side with us to build the business. I will never forget or take for granted the people who were instrumental in building this company and the people who continue to take us to the next level. No matter how passionate you are about something, no matter how hard you work, you can’t build a successful business alone.
What are the challenges for the future?
I believe if you asked any CEO today or 100 years ago what kept them up at night, they would say very similar things. I don’t believe that today’s CEOs are dealing with any different business issues then they ever had before. CEO’s always have the same questions in mind: Do I have a clear enough vision and strong enough business plan to ensure I meet shareholder’s expectations? Do I have the right people in place to deliver this plan? Are my people happy and ready to take on the challenges of the future? How will my company differentiate from the competition? How will my business perform with the global economic pressures and unrest?
We here in Switzerland can no longer live in the bubble we perhaps once did. We have always competed on the global playing field but we were somehow insulated from many of the legislative pressures and economic challenges impacting other countries. However we are now fully in the ‘Global’ economy and this will not change. Today many professionals all fields are facing worries such as ‘nearshoring’, ‘outsourcing’ in lower cost locations. There is no doubt that the increasing access to cheaper labour has put pressure on Swiss businesses to move jobs to these locations so my hope is that Switzerland continues to offer uncomplicated employment law, a tax friendly structure for corporations and easy access to top local and global talent.
We must stay focussed on what will keep Switzerland competitive for the long term and never take anything for granted. Switzerland is an amazing country and my family and I are so lucky to live here. We all have to do our part to ensure we continue to thrive as a country for the long term.
Some advice to someone just starting out
Be genuine, be aware of what you are good at and what you aren’t good at. Surround yourself with people who are more talented than yourself. Be humble not prideful….take your business very seriously but never yourself! Oh yes, and work very very hard!