Seven eventful, fulfilling years have passed since the founding of Electrum. As MD Dave Glass prepares to hand over to Karin Hunter for his well-deserved sabbatical, he takes a moment to reflect on leadership in the company.

Electrum has had a fantastic year. In a difficult economy, we’ve achieved strong top-line growth, excellent customer satisfaction scores and great results from R&D spending. We’ve grown our team, and in early 2020 we’ll welcome 10 new starters, bringing our full-time staff contingent to over 50 amazing individuals. And then there’s an excellent pipeline of new projects to look forward to next year. With such great prospects around the corner, it feels a bit inconvenient to be taking a sabbatical!

…for Electrum, it’ll be a chance to grow even stronger

I was part of the founding of Electrum seven years ago and back in 2017 already, I made the decision to take a sabbatical in distant-sounding 2020. From a personal point of view, it’ll be a reinvigorating break, but for Electrum, it’ll be a chance to grow even stronger.

I once read that start-ups in their early stages struggle because of the weaknesses of the founder. For instance, if the founders don’t like financial administration, billing customers on time will become a problem. But counter-intuitively, in the later stages of growth, it’s the strengths of the founders that constitute the risks. For example, when a business has relied on a strong founder ‘doing the sales’, it can be hard for that person to change roles to building a process-driven sales team that enables scaling of that business function.

I’m extremely excited about the new leaders emerging at Electrum…

We’ve been aware of these risks for some time, and in response we’ve been actively working to position and strengthen Electrum for further growth. In particular we’ve been implementing the ‘Scaling Up’ methodology, a well-regarded approach that’s already yielded some great results. Karin Hunter has been an instrumental driver of our ‘Scaling Up’ organisational changes thus far. Coupled with her excellent technical payments industry and customer knowledge, she’s a natural fit to stand in for me while I’m on sabbatical.

I’m also extremely excited about the new leaders emerging at Electrum through our on-going leadership development programme, the Electrum Personal Leadership Programme (EPLP). It’s designed to encourage autonomy, mastery and purpose, and I can see that it’s time to make some space for these Electrum leaders to exercise their talents and abilities on their own terms.

In light of the particular challenges that come with growth, we’ve always believed in building a team that can perform decentralised decision-making, and instituted an organisational design with a flat management structure. Not only does everyone have a say in major decisions, including company strategy, but we also ensure that company data (salaries, financials, budgets, board meetings) are transparently available to everyone in the team.

…I have a very long-term view on working at Electrum

On a personal level, I have a very long-term view on working at Electrum. It’s been an eventful seven-year journey so far, and I reckon I have at least another 25 years to go. Apart from spending lots of time with my young family, I’d also like to take some time to reflect on the Electrum journey so far, so that when I’m back in June 2020, I’m able to contribute with greater clarity of vision and purpose.

Wishing you all the best for the festive season,

Dave

Dave Glass

Dave Glass

Dave Glass is a co-founder of Electrum. He holds a BCom Honours (First Class) in Information Systems from the University of Cape Town and an MSc in Information Systems Management from Trinity College in Dublin. Dave has worked in software development and payments industry since 2003.