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Google: Codifying Culture

Former Global COO at Just Eat and Current CEO at Receipt Bank

IP Interview
Published on January 16, 2020
Google

Why is this interview interesting?

  • Why codifying culture and values is crucial to high growth businesses
Executive Bio

Adrian Blair

Former Global COO at Just Eat and Current CEO at Receipt Bank

Adrian was pivotal in helping Just Eat grow from £25m to over £800m in revenue in 2018 by the time he left. As Global COO, he managed the global P&L and was responsible for rolling out and driving cohesion between the international units. Adrian is now CEO of Receipt Bank, a SaaS accountancy business that recently raised £55m from Insight Ventures to scale globally. Adrian previously spent 6 years at Google as Head of Ecommerce Partnerships in EMEA and has also worked at Spotify and Ask.com. He is also a Non-Executive Director of online real estate business Purplebricks and recently co-founded a leadership business that trains young professionals.

Interview Transcript

How do think about culture and maintaining culture, as you are scaling a high-growth business?

It’s really hard work. There is lots of material out there on how great companies do this. I’ve been fortunate in working in places that do this incredibly well. Google, where I worked for six years, had an incredibly strong culture and went to great lengths to build that into the way we did things. For me, personally, I learnt a lot from that.

The sort of things I learnt from Google were, they codified their culture. They didn’t just let it happen to them. They wrote it down, they had values and principles that were very carefully thought through and were talked about often inside the organization and were very public, inside the company. We used those values to hire people and to reward people.

I think that’s a really important part of what companies need to do, as they scale. Be clear about what your values are; don’t just let it happen to you. Document them and communicate them, regularly. But the most difficult thing to do is to have a leadership team that actually follow the values and whose behaviors embody them. That is something that is really challenging, to call people out where their behaviors are inconsistent with the values. As a leadership group, you need to be working on that all the time.

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