We got to know new Shepper CEO, Lindsay Forster, in a recent Q&A. Find out what she thinks the keys to leading a business are, what it’s like to be a female CEO in tech, and where she plans to take Shepper in the future.
What made you want to become CEO of Shepper?
“It’s a great business and a fantastic idea. It attracts clients across multiple sectors and multiple markets. It’s fuelled by technology, it’s a community based network, so it’s got so many interesting facets. We’re well funded and I think we have an opportunity to really make Shepper a global leader in data.”
What’s your overall philosophy for leading a business?
“Always have the customer in the room. Aspire to do things which are almost unachievable, but realistic. Try to create an environment for people that enables individuals to get brilliant work done.”
What kind of culture do you want to create at Shepper?
“The kind of culture that I’d like to create at Shepper would be customer first. If we’re doing work in the customer arena, it’s important for us to really understand what the client wants, why they want it and what they’re going to do with the data. If we’re managing our network, we need to understand what our Shepherds want, why they want it, what’s important to them. It’s really important that we get those two audiences really well understood, and that changes all the time.”
“I also want to create a culture that’s commercially orientated. We’ve raised £6million in investment and we need to spent that really wisely.”
“I want to create an environment where people can grow and develop, and ultimately they can come into work, or work from home, and do their best work. I want people to leave Shepper feeling that they’re a more fulfilled and capable individual than when they joined.”
What does a customer of Shepper look like?
“At the moment, our customers look quite different, but the kind of person that we’re looking for in an organisation is a change maker, a disrupter – somebody that wants to innovate in their business. Our service is all about deploying local people to collect data on assets. This data allows businesses to run more efficiently and enables them to make informed decisions.”
“The businesses we want to work with are those that have lots of widely distributed asset that are looking for data points from those assets. These businesses could be stores, individual residential housing, utilities providers – anything where it would take a long time or cost a lot of money to check a number of assets.”
“The fact that we have Shepherds within 5 minutes of each client’s asset, means that we can deploy our resources, quickly, skilfully, and collect great quality data with our technology.”
How has Covid-19 impacted Shepper?
“In the same way as it’s impacted every business and every individual. It’s been incredibly difficult for our people because we haven’t had the environment of the office, which is incredibly important.”
“It’s also been hard for our Shepherds, who use and work with Shepper for supplementary income. They haven’t been able to work for periods throughout this.”
“I think if I look upon this slightly differently into the future, every business, some sectors more than others, are going through huge amounts of change. People are looking to diversify their workforces and reduce their costs, and I think Shepper provides a really neat solution to both of those things, becoming a natural extension to a client’s workforce. I think this will give us a bit of a springboard to start thinking about how we adapt our offering to address what clients are really focused on right now.”
What is like to be a female CEO in tech?
“Well this is quite new for me but I can’t imagine it’s that different to being a man. There’s obviously less of us.”
“I think it’s interesting because I’ve worked in a couple of different sectors – banking, insurance, automotive – and certainly at the beginning of my career I hadn’t experienced the diversity that exists today in management teams and organisations.”
“I think being a female CEO is about bringing diversity to the business and the board. Diversity in, not just gender, but different people from all walks of life, with different perspectives. I think when you’ve got diverse people offering their contributions, it creates positive tension and innovation. I’m looking to use my appointment as a catalyst to drive more diversity in the business, and in the sector.”
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
“I think there’s been some interesting times, given what’s happened in the world over the last 25 years, but I’m not sure there would be one individual challenge.”
“I’ve learnt that the environment you work in when you experience challenge is really important. Creating an environment that is supportive, collegiate and somewhere you can face challenges together is something that I think about a lot – having been through the financial crash and several other events. This has probably formed my view on the kind of culture that I want to work in and the culture that I want to be a part of creating here at Shepper.”
What are your non-work-related interests?
“My friends and family would probably describe me as slightly mad! I’m busy. I run – I did do a 10k last year but that’s pretty much my limit. I cook, I did a couple of trials to get into Masterchef last year. I love property and architecture so I’m always doing something to the house. I have a dog called Derek, who is incredibly important to me.”