Sam Mudd, MD of Phoenix Software, shares with us just how important it is to get the culture right, to create the caring and trusting environment with clear purpose and vision that enables talent to grow and take on new responsibilities. This not only helps with talent retention but is the secret behind their business success.
This podcast maybe just a ‘chat’ between friends, but there is no getting away from what is at the heart of Phoenix’s success – it’s their people and culture with Sam as the driving force.
Listen to the podcast here.
The early years
Sam joined Phoenix Software as a Solutions Sales Manager in November 2003, having previously held senior roles at WordPerfect, Novell, and Trustmarque Solutions. At university Sam studied Psychology.
Joining eighteen years ago in 2003, the real catalyst in moving the business forward came when Bytes acquired Phoenix in 2017. Bytes CEO, Neil Murphy, trusted and empowered Sam to get on and do what was needed to run the business.
Sam tells us,
“This was a wonderful green light for me. It was about restating the values, the culture, empowering people, and getting the right people in the business.”
Listening to Sam, it’s clear she has a passion for people – she can see the talent and is able to put investment into the right people.
Staying focused on their target market (public sector) and focusing more intently into those sub- sectors with more passion and drive for customer outcomes has been key to their go-to-market strategy. Sam made sure that everyone within the business was clear on:
- What is our purpose?
- What do we stand for?
- Why should customers come to Phoenix?
“Once you’ve got that story, once you’ve got that ability to communicate clearly with your staff and your customers it’s then a case of re-communicating and re-communicating how you’re performing against that vision.”
Vicky tells us that’s so good to hear,
“It’s taken us three years to figure out what we do and where we drive the most value. We help tech companies execute faster. This is where we know we can make the biggest difference.”
Sam tells us,
“Know what you do well. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?”
“The simpler you make things, the faster you can go.”
This was an ‘Aha’ moment for us and we now apply simplicity in everything we do.
How important is culture?
Our Sam (the podcast Host) was intrigued to know if culture is the most important thing within a business. Sam (our podcast guest) thinks so.
“The culture is something you want to preserve, something you want to protect and is something I talk relentlessly about when I’m hiring people.”
Being able to provide a work environment where people can give their best, where they aren’t afraid to come to work, where they can try things, where they can make mistakes and learn is important to her.
“All of that for me is the ingredients of culture that attracts people that want to thrive and develop. It’s also OK for people to carry on and do what they do for many years. Not everyone has to be aspirational and want to be a CEO or divisional leader but generally we want to excite people and bring passion to work. And that’s culture, isn’t it?”
Being authentic and acting with humility sets the tone for a great culture and we think Sam sets such a great example.
Vic is always thinking up new podcast titles and wonders if we should call this episode, “Make every day at work count.”
How do you maintain great culture?
A business acquisition can have a massive impact on a company culture. So how did Phoenix keep the trust and people onboard when the business was acquired?
Sam tells us that the cultures between Bytes and Phoenix were very similar. To support the transformation, constant communication and maintaining stability was so important.
“You can do this if you have consistent messaging and values and explain why you’re doing certain things in the business. You have to take your senior leadership team with you.”
Home grown talent
During the transition time, Phoenix focused on nurturing and promoting talent within the business.
“When you promote from within there’s a lot of trust established. It shows people at the start of their career that there is development opportunity within this company. We’ve had incredible success from the promotions from within. I knew they could do it.”
What about hiring?
As a business ramps up, then it’s important to get hiring right as it’s a massive investment of time and equally, on the person looking to be hired, it’s a big bet for them where they place their career.
Sam tells us,
“We don’t get it right all the time, but we know what works. We know the type of person that will fit. We spend a lot of time in the selection process and interviewing to make sure we’re very clear about the job role and expectations.”
It’s lovely to hear how proud Sam is of their homegrown talent. By developing and promoting people internally they have been able to retain their best staff.
Let’s talk about results
We are interested to know how their focus on people has affected their results. Sam tells us that there’s two sets of results to consider:
- From an employee engagement perspective, they are strong. “Even with a pandemic we’ve had some exceptional results with our surveys. However, we take the feedback and always try to improve.”
- The business results have shown growth in revenue and operating profit. (Results to be published in a few days.) “More than that we’ve been hiring throughout the pandemic which is an important signal to the outside world and our staff.”
It seems that a conscious focus on people, has helped drive positive financial results for Phoenix.
“My passion is for people. As long as we’re all interested in the welfare of one another and we all want the best for each other, we will all succeed and produce great results. You start with the people and the rest should follow.”
3 key takeaways
These have possibly been the most succinct three takeaways on our podcasts!
- Build the trust with your leadership team and your staff
- Communicate highly, communicate consistently
- Be authentic
Thank you Sam!
The Joy of Home Grown Talent: Listen to the podcast here.