As one of the brilliant speakers at the forthcoming CTO Craft Conference on 1 – 3 December 2020, we sat down with Softwire’s Director, Zoe Cunningham to quiz her on lessons learned in 2020, what’s keeping her busy and all things remote. Enjoy.

Hi Zoe, thanks for your time! We’ve got a quick-fire round for you today, so without further ado, what’s keeping you busy at the moment?

I’m focusing on working and changing our business for tech-for-good rather than just tech-for-anyone. We definitely started with the tech-for-anyone remit, which is good and is still the case, but there are a number of employees who really care about social impact and doing tech-for-good. We do a lot of stuff already [in that arena] so it’s just about moving even further in that direction. 

Tell me a leadership lesson you’ve learnt this year?

You can never predict the future! We, like a lot of people in March, went through the phase of ‘How do we save as much money as possible?’, ‘How do we guard against a downturn?’, ‘How do we put employees on furlough?’ etc. We’re finishing the year really strongly and we would not have predicted that. Particularly when things are bad, it’s very easy to project forwards and go, ‘Alright it’s going to be bad, it’s going to get worse’, but actually, you don’t know that. 

Next up, what’s your top tip for motivating remote employees? 

We were quite lucky that our workforce is actually very well set up to work remotely and they’re doing an amazing job. The reason for that is (or what I think it is!) we already have a culture of autonomy. We want to encourage our employees;  we set them a challenge and we want them to find the way to meet that challenge.

We also try – as much as possible – to match people with projects that they are most enthused about (which is related to the tech-for-good point earlier). When people are remote, you need that enthusiasm even more because command and control is even harder. So if you can move to a set up where people are self-motivated, it’s the best way!

Finally, what’s your best advice for goal-setting?

There is a fantastic quote from a chap called Stephen R Covey who wrote the book: The 7 habits of Highly Effective People where he says: “If the ladder is against the wrong wall then every step up the ladder is a step in the wrong direction”.

I think not enough of us stop often enough and think ‘I have all these challenges and goals I’m setting, do I actually still want to get to the end of it?’ Both because we can get it wrong to start with, but also because what we want out of life can change. So, I think my top tip for goal-setting is making sure your goals are taking you in the right direction. 

Thank you so much for your brilliant insights, Zoe!


Catch Zoe Cunningham and some incredible other speakers at our forthcoming CTO Craft Con 2020: The People One on 1 – 3 December. Find out more and get your tickets here!

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