Over the past few months, we’ve been travelling across our NZ, Melbourne and Perth offices to introduce you to the people behind CVCheck. Today on our blog we’re getting you acquainted with our CEO Rod Sherwood.
Explain your role at CVCheck
I’m the CEO and also a Director of the Board, as CVCheck is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. As the CEO it’s my role to engage with our customers, our teams, our investors, our suppliers and others.
This role is all about passion, motivation and a real desire to work with a wide range of people. It’s a very interesting role. It requires a desire to get to know what people are doing and why they’re doing it. You need a good deal of empathy to understand how they’re feeling, and what their capabilities are across the company so that everyone is working effectively and collaboratively. The only way to achieve this is to have a company that is very people orientated, and the CEO needs to lead that.
Tell us about your life before CVCheck
I was born and bred on the South Coast of Western Australia. I’ve always been pretty bookish, and I’m naturally gifted in numbers. I started my career in finance for 10 years moving from Denmark to Bunbury and then Perth, mainly in roles at banks and finance companies. I met my wife along the way and we headed overseas when I was thirty-ish: no jobs, one way tickets and enough money to live on for about six weeks.
When we moved to London, I first got a job as a copy boy at The Securities and Investment Board. It was great because I could then tick a box on my resume that I had London experience, plus you got free coffee and lunch passes with the job. I then had another job for six to eight weeks in trade finance.
After that I moved onto a six month contract at Reed Elsevier (RELX Group), a Fortune 500 company. I ended up enjoying over 12 months with them, and enjoyed time in their Switzerland office at the end of my contract, and some great skiing.
After that contract, my wife and I went travelling around Europe for six months. We had been away for a few months, and had to leave France to renew our visa, so we headed across the border to Switzerland.
We were hanging out in a plaza, in a French border town in Switzerland waiting for our car to be serviced, and by chance, my old boss from Reed Elsevier walked past. He told me he had the perfect job for me. So began 24 hours of negotiation, with me not really wanting a job. In the end, I managed to get the rest of the summer off to fulfil plans to travel around Italy, and then started at the Elsevier treasury department in Switzerland in the Autumn.
During my time there, we consolidated much of their treasury work globally to this one office. Which included a large debt portfolio, the global FX portfolio, and involvement in most cross-border financing. It was an incredible experience, a very cool job and a great team of people. 14 years later, gaining Swiss Citizenship along the way, my wife and I headed back to Perth.
How would you describe the culture at CVCheck?
I think there are two authentic elements to the culture at CVCheck. The first is a very, very strong desire to serve customers. The second is the skill-set and business sense when deploying technology.
I think we have a passion in our people that is rooted in those two things, our technology and our desire to serve, and we’re very people orientated. I haven’t seen that combination elsewhere. I summarise it as a people to people business, that’s technology enabled. Our staff go all out for our customers, but they also look out for each other too.
How has CVCheck changed since you started at the company?
It’s grown up immensely. It’s still growing, and becoming more mature. I’d describe it as a more well-balanced teenager. Much more aware of the market it serves.
I think we set ourselves expectations and a standard of achievement which is exceptionally high; very frequently too high. Sometimes we really need to take a moment to look at all we’ve achieved, as it encompasses some truly great accomplishments. The company has radically transformed in the last two years and the financial metrics are starting to illustrate the progress.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
My favourite thing is watching all of us evolve. There are things that I see our people do, which they should be really proud of. The way they work with customers, their humility, and the way they carry themselves. The way our customer service and sales team collaborate so cohesively and so well with our technology team. It’s evident internally and externally, and clients can tell: work comes through the door as a result of that.
When did you realise that you were good at your job and passionate about it?
The thing I’m most proud of looking back on my career, was the work I did with Reed Elsevier. I qualified as a treasurer, a pure finance specialty, doing the study in parallel to my work. While I was qualifying to become a treasurer, I was working at a high technical level in corporate treasury, with very high numbers and complexity at stake.
During my time there, we did pretty much all there is to do in treasury. Even now I look back at that phase and think that that body of work, a culmination of 12 years, was really special. It required collaboration, personal skills, very good mathematics, and pushing myself into corners where I sometimes doubted myself, but ended up succeeding. It was very intense and demanded a lot. I had to have three years off after that work.
CEO life remains relatively new to me, it’s only been a couple of years and the company size is so vastly different to Reed Elsevier that the contrast of demands is pretty radical. I’m taking a big swing at it, trying my heart out, the numbers are starting to tell the story of progress.
What career advice would you give your younger self?
Have more self-belief. I would say the biggest issue I have had through the years is self-doubt.
The other aspect I would recommend to myself, back when I was starting my career, is to be true to what you want to be. I found it hard being both an outdoors person who loves surfing and a nerd, which meant I usually spent too many hours in spreadsheets. Learn how to balance work and play. Life is random and very short, we Australians have a lot to learn in terms of work life balance.
What does innovation mean to you?
For me it’s finding an elegant new way to get things done. It usually comes from people very passionate and skilled in a particular area. It usually takes a whole bunch of people to collaborate to make it happen.
How do you relax?
I talk with my wife. I love nature, we go for walks. I surf, I climb, I skate on my electric skateboard. I enjoy a glass of wine every now and then. I also spend time with people I’m very fond of, which is always fun.