The business world in 2018 is one that is constantly evolving, moving faster, and increasingly globally connected. Yearly advancements in digital technology and in AI applications have become the norm, as companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible both in the home and in the workplace. For many of those in management and executive positions working in these ever growing technology and software sectors, the ‘nine-to-five’ job may still technically still exist, but in order to fully capitalize on as many opportunities as possible one must be ready to make important decisions and adapt on a moment’s notice given the nature of how globalized big businesses are today.
Being continually motivated and innovative is just part of what makes a business manager or leader effective. Leading companies in cutting-edge sectors, such as Intel, are increasingly hiring more employees from overseas, and as consequence, having an understanding of various cultures, especially ones that make up a large portion of a given workforce, can greatly benefit a manager or executive when creating a cohesive and productive environment.
Serial entrepreneur and CEO of Seattle-based time billing software company Bill4Time, Steven Reardon is a prime example of the younger generation of adaptable business leaders transforming the American workplace by both utilizing a greater understanding of global cultures to maximize efficiency and consistently looking for new industries for business opportunities. With over a decade of various business experience in South Africa, from founding his own tech start-up, Peldon Technologies, to aiding in customer acquisition and marketing strategies for banking giant Barclays, Reardon’s unique repertoire and knowledge of data metrics has helped distinguish himself among business leaders.
When speaking about what has helped him lead multiple businesses, Reardon doesn’t shy away from the importance of understanding cultural and business norms in a globalized world, and more specifically, humor. “Many of the international markets I have worked in still have a very strong command and control mindset when it comes to management,” Reardon recalls. “The US and especially the West Coast is very focused on a servant leadership mindset. Strategy is much more a co-creation effort between the team and the leadership and people expect to be involved in the decision making.” The data supports Reardon’s observation too, with the most profitable companies in the sector like Google, Facebook and Intel redefining the manager-employee relationship in a multitude of ways, from getting rid of personal offices even for the most esteemed executive, to making large creative spaces in the office designed for sparking new ideas. In Reardon’s experience, a gesture of teasing which may come across as light-hearted in one country can get lost in translation if said in another, thus creating unnecessary awkward or tense misunderstandings. Humor can go a long way when connecting with a diverse pool of employees, but foreseeing how a joke or jab may be received while abroad or in a different work environment is important to keep in mind.
So, what’s Reardon’s secret to success? Well, it’s difficult to pin down just one, but that’s the thing that separates himself from the competition. Reardon’s uncanny ability to not only keep an open mind, but to continue innovating is what has helped him adapt and flourish as both his career and the world take twists and turns; However, one general tool that Reardon has kept close to him, no matter the place or industry is the usefulness of data metrics for any business. “Data is everything in modern day businesses,” says Reardon. “Especially in my current role in SaaS (Software as a Service). My business intelligence dashboard allows me to run the business with up to the minute information about the business and our customers. Most importantly it allows me to get “close” to a large number of customers. In a world where you are managing thousands of customers you need to try and understand their behavior and needs on a macro scale, the only way to do that is through data.”
According to Reardon, there are five essential data metrics that every business manager in the software can use to make profitable, smart decisions. Net monthly recurring revenue, revenue and client monthly churn rates, Average Customer Value (ACV), number of leads and conversion percentage are the numbers Reardon keeps in his head at all times when making business decisions. If a manager can make sense of these numbers and apply them on a regular basis, a company has a far greater chance of succeeding and staying profitable.
Take it from the man who worked as the CEO for the biggest cycling retailer in the southern hemisphere, MoreCorp, and oversaw hundreds of managers in addition to a multimillion dollar budget – these are crucial metrics to know. But Reardon, unlike many business leaders, strives to delve into multiple fields of work, and more importantly impart his experiences upon other curious minds, both young and old. Noticing a gap within the academic community while attending Stanford University, the lack of intellectually stimulating podcasts available given the experience and prestige of those working at the school, Reardon started his own podcast. Talking with various professors and researchers, Reardon’s podcasts focused on a wide range of topics, including business policy, foreign affairs, politics and leadership. In an effort to continue reaching other curious minds like himself, Reardon recently developed BlindSpot. A podcast which Reardon hosts in addition to his other jobs, Blindspot features interviews a multitude of business professionals, political experts and academics. “My current goal is to try and find the intersection of policy in leadership and also try to find a way to navigate the responsibility we have as business leaders to shape and drive political or cultural change,” says Reardon. Understanding the responsibility bestowed upon him as a business leader, Reardon is as a great example in of leadership for his employees and aspiring entrepreneurs, with his podcasts serving to both inform and educate in a world full of opinionated and potentially biased major media outlets.
Since receiving his master’s degree in business management from Stanford, Reardon’s ambition for bigger, greater challenges has led him back to the West Coast in an attempt to venture into the most competitive yet lucrative tech and software industry marketplace. “There is always that question you have inside you about whether you can make it in the big show. I also always wanted to work in tech and the west coast of the US is the center of that world,” says Reardon. Since becoming the CEO of Bill4Time in 2017, he is certainly making a space for himself within the industry and has been tasked managing full strategic control for the software firm in addition to growing revenue consistently over the next five years. With his knowledge of global humor and culture, a healthy balance of interests and the discipline of a corporate conglomerate executive, Reardon is redefining what business management looks like in the United States.