As part of celebrating International Women’s Day, we caught up with Syndeo Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer, Catherine Ewings to find out a bit more about her background, work/life balance and what it’s like to lead a growing technology company.
1. What were you like growing up – how would your family and friends have described you?
I was very studious and grew up in an environment where exam results were always front of mind. I think this had pros and cons. I have a strong work ethic but I developed a real fear of failure, and that’s something which I think can impede people in taking risks. I’m a work in progress in that regard.
2. What is the path you took to get to where you are today?
I was a corporate lawyer for many years working in both London and Sydney where I specialised in the mergers & acquisitions and private equity fields. I began to make the transition to tech when I joined software company, SpeechStorm, as its in-house legal counsel. There I set up and led the legal function before moving on to acquire other functions in the business including HR, facilities, operations and investor relations. It was a gradual progression as I started to understand the SpeechStorm business more. Working there opened my eyes to moving outside of law, and I enjoyed understanding all of the mechanics of running a company. It was so different to the legal perspective I’d had in law where you didn’t really have the opportunity to spend time understanding and watching growth.
About six years into SpeechStorm we sold the business to US software giant Genesys. Post-acquisition I moved back into a full-time legal role for Genesys and for three years headed up its legal function across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Whilst I was happy there deep down I knew it just wasn’t right for me and something was missing.
I’ve always harboured the desire to run my own business, work with people I enjoy being around and having more control over my working life. I now have that after taking the risk to set up Syndeo.
3. What’s been the most important factor of Syndeo’s success?
Building the right team has been paramount to our success. Recruiting the right talent can be challenging, time consuming, and sometimes you feel like you may not get there. But when you do, it’s very rewarding and I am thrilled to be working with such a dedicated and growing team.
4. What have been the challenges at Syndeo so far?
There are always challenges in business and we certainly have our challenges day to day – I run ops, so for me these are largely around ensuring we can scale our business. But we’ve been doing a great job at it so far, and I am so pleased to see the business growing at the rate we are now.
5. As a full-time working mum how do you manage a work/life balance?
Since having my daughters, like any working parent, there have been times when I’ve struggled with the work/life balance and felt that I am not giving enough to either. I came from a background which was all about putting in an 80-hour week but I now believe that success and hard work is not tied to how much time you spend at work but the value you add, the impact of your interaction with your team as well as your work itself.
I try to disconnect from work on the weekends and carve out family time during the week. I prioritise being with the children in the evenings and if needed will pick up work again after they go to bed.
Final Quick-fire Questions
- Last book you read: The Stationery Shop of Tehran by Marjan Kamali.
- Next holiday destination: Greece
- Current Netflix favourite: Nothing currently but over the Christmas break I binged watched all three series of Succession.