Brittany Benson: Thank you for joining and sharing a few minutes of your day with me, Amanda! Could you share a little bit of detail about your role at Sage?
Amanda Cusdin: Of course, Brittany! My role is Chief People Officer of Sage globally. I look after the people strategy and how we bring colleague success to life. I also have overall responsibility for Sage Foundation, which is our philanthropic organisation. I really enjoy driving that and all the activities and support for our communities.
Brittany Benson: That's wonderful! What would you say is the best part of your job?
Amanda Cusdin: The best part is the opportunity to create an environment at Sage where people really want to join and also really want to stay. People are the heart of our business. The opportunity to find the best people, to bring them in, and to create an environment where they can be successful is such an exciting thing to be able to do. And also because we work globally, across many countries, and different cultures with unique ways of working, it creates a real interest. It's fantastic to see how much Sage has been able to change over the last few years.
Brittany Benson: Absolutely. I love how you said, “People are the heart of our business.” That's so important. What type of impact do you strive to have in this role that is so people-focused?
Amanda Cusdin: I want to leave a mark on Sage where two things happen. One, people look to Sage for the very best world-class people experiences – how we approach talent, how we nurture and develop people, how we find people. An organisation where other companies look and say, "Let's have our people strategy like Sage’s. "
Second, that as talent may leave Sage, that other phenomenal organisations want them to go and work there. Recruiters are fighting to get people who have worked at Sage because of the way we develop, how we hire, and the great talent we have. I want Sage to be a place that people are really proud to have on their CV; And an instance where other companies say, "They're good people because they've been at Sage."
Brittany Benson: In terms of leadership and people that are early on in their career, what advice would you have if they want to pursue a career in technology, or even more specific, to a role like yours?
Amanda Cusdin: I think you need a real sense of curiosity, and a of wanting to understand what drives and motivates people – whether they're customers, colleagues, partners, or suppliers. And also a real curiosity about technology and what it can do for us; how technology and humans can work together and make the world a better place in terms of what we do.
Getting into either technology or leadership, or a role like a chief people officer, you need to have a real sense of drive and purpose. You need to have something that gets you up every day, that really motivates you to get things done. And even when you've got barriers or things aren't going your way, that you've got a real drive and purpose to push through it and get through the difficult bits to get to the outcome you want. If you've got curiosity, and a real drive and purpose, you'll do really well.
Brittany Benson: You've mentioned drive, purpose, and curiosity, and those are so important. Can you talk a little bit about some additional key traits that you think one should possess to be a really good leader?
Amanda Cusdin: I'm a big believer in servant leadership; meaning creating opportunities for people to do great things. It’s not about dictating, sending down orders, or micromanaging. It's about creating an environment where people come in and want to do their really best work. I'm a big believer in the role of leaders creating that environment, removing barriers, driving people, pushing them, and giving them great feedback that helps them get even better. I think that's the role of leaders, to get the very best out of people. I think it's important that as a leader, you don't have a strong sense of your own ego or your own profile.
Sometimes you feel like you need to lead from the front; and you certainly do when things go wrong. But most of the time, you need to lead from behind and let the team take you forward. My view is that on most occasions, somebody should look in the room and the team is so strong, they don't know who the leader is. That for me is good leadership.
Brittany Benson: How would you describe your leadership style, and what do you think has shaped that?
Amanda Cusdin: What shaped it is the leaders I've enjoyed working with and the ones I haven't. You learn from both of them, from all those different experiences. I also know the type of leadership that motivates me. There's a great management thinker, Jules Goddard, who's done a lot of work into looking at the environments that people can thrive and be successful in. It's often not what we expect. It's not about lots of rules and boundaries; it is about creating this environment for people to do really well. That’s what motivates me. I’m constantly asking myself, "How can I do better? How can I help my people do better?"
I've also been influenced by people who've achieved great things through others because there's nothing more satisfying than seeing a group of people achieve something that no one thought possible. When you look at world leaders and some of the great leaders in the past, their ability to inspire and to motivate is really what makes a difference.
It's not always easy to do. It's often easier to do things ourselves and just take control, but we get much further if we can create an environment for good people to do brilliant things. That's what inspires me: where individuals have a real opportunity to be brilliant leaders.
Read the other colleague profiles who are part of Sage’s Women in Technology interview series.