08 Jul 2019

Digital Nation Viewpoints: Jessica Butcher MBE, Co-Founder, Tick; Co-Founder, Blippar; Angel; Mentor


Jessica grew Blippar into an established global technology leader in the fields of AR and computer vision within 6 years. She has been featured in the 'Inspiring 50' most inspiring women in European technology, the BBC’s list of ‘100 Women’, Fortune Magazine's global 'Top 10 Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs' in 2012, among many other such awards.


How important is it to build an employer brand?

It’s absolutely critical. That brand is not just about what you articulate to your consumers. It's not about a logo and a slogan. It's about a culture, identity and an environment that you're creating which is ultimately what you're attracting adherence to as a business. In, a vision and a mission is ultimately what sells you to the talent you need.


How can you effectively build a culture and maintain it?

I've witnessed every extreme of this in the various businesses I've worked with. Some just let their product and culture speak for itself, which I think has lots of potential pitfalls. I've also worked with businesses that are much, much more articulate and proactive about how they sit the whole company down to work through the company’s purpose, mission, and positioning. For the new business I’m working on at present, we’re taking this approach very seriously as I’ve seen how critical it is to what you build.

It’s crucial you articulate what you’re doing and why, writing it down in a way that is so crystal clear it can become a constant barometer against which you check all of your actions. You need to measure everything against this, from the type of investors you're working with and the type of people you're employing to how you communicate and articulate your story for customers. It should direct how you talk internally and the weekly processes you put in place to try and encourage people to think and behave in a certain way.


Do companies in the digital economy understand the financial impact of culture and values or are they seen as just a nice to have?

JB: Eight to ten years ago it was often just a nice to have, all about just picking a handful of positive adjectives to describe your business. It was lip service. That has completely changed and there's been a lot of very compelling research to demonstrate its impact on the financial success of a business. This is especially true when it comes to attracting talent, which is increasingly attracted by the culture and the statement of intent as what sort of business you want to build. So frankly, if you don't articulate that well, you’re simply not competitive for the top tier hires you need. With early-stage startups it may be the only differentiator you have when it comes to attracting talent.


How important are benefits beyond the salary?

JB There’s been very interesting research carried out recently by Zestful on whether senior managers would rather have a $130,000 salary or $100,000 with lots of benefits like gym membership, Netflix, Audible, flower deliveries and so on. Fascinatingly, 80% of people chose the $100k plus the lifestyle allowance even though the package of benefits was worth a total $6k. Simply because they were all those things that just delight you in your life outside of work that you'd never get around to buying for yourself. This really shows the importance of valuing people’s family lives and their extracurricular lives, on top of the usual health insurance and pension.


How successfully is gender equality being achieved in the tech sector?

JB: I feel a little bit conflicted on some of the gender debate because I'm not sure it always does women a lot of favors. I think there’s a risk of stigmatizing the choices that some mothers make around wanting to stay at home and opt out of the masochistic 80-hour working weeks they may have had before having children.

People are individuals not gender tick boxes. I certainly don't think that young fast-growth small businesses always have the luxury of being overzealous on diversity because frankly their pool of people is going to be much smaller. They need to get the very best people they can, as quickly as they can and be as meritocratic as they can when it comes to making these decisions. And a small business is also restricted when it comes to what it can offer as if somebody senior leaves and doesn't come back for a year, that can have a huge impact.



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