HeForShe: Andy Peddar | CEO, Deazy

Andy PeddarI’m the CEO and founder of Deazy.

Deazy is a curated marketplace of development talent, a platform to intelligently connect enterprises and agencies with the right dev talent for every engagement, in a cost-effective, scalable and flexible way. It’s a busy and exciting period for us. Development has been on an upward curve for years now, but as we move towards a more digital society, the growth curve has become much steeper.

This is my second start-up venture. The SalonBook was my first, a hairdresser marketplace, where we had a real challenge finding the right development partner to build our MVP and so we were unable to ship our product ahead of the competition. It was a pivotal error and one that I wanted to never see repeated.

As CEO at Deazy, I work with our senior team to shape the company’s vision and strategy, but of equal importance is transparent communication across the organisation. Good communication is essential, and my own role has changed to reflect that. It’s very much about setting the vision and strategy then communicating it clearly. When you do that, everyone understands what the ‘north star’ is and how their role impacts that. That’s motivating, and people see how their role is valued and worthwhile.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

To an extent. I wanted to be a firefighter as a boy, but that soon gave way to wanting to run my own company. I deliberately chose management consulting and an MBA early in my career to help me really understand businesses and it put me on a steep and rapid learning curve. I feel genuinely privileged to be doing something that I’ve always wanted to do.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

As CEO of a start-up, it can sometimes feel like you are constantly facing challenges! Right now, the challenge is continuing to achieve growth targets whilst maintaining focus and culture. It needs to be the right kind of growth – sustainable and without losing sight of what got us where we are, who we are and where we should focus to win. Maintaining the culture as you grow is one of a start-up’s biggest challenges, so we will remain mindful of that.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Without a doubt, it’s assembling the current team at Deazy. I feel humbled to have such a diverse team with such a great combination of experience and expertise. We had a recent offsite company meeting, and looking at the other 17 people who are part of Deazy and who left their jobs to work towards our vision was incredibly exciting. The progress we have made is in no small part because of the great team we have built.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

It’s hard to choose one, in all honesty. It’s a combination of the right idea with real validation, the right team to execute, and the right timing with the surge in demand for development services driven by COVID-19 and IR35.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I think it can be hugely positive. It’s not something that I have done in an official capacity, but unofficially it’s something that I practice all the time. I have several mentors that I speak to when I need a little guidance in a particular area, and I’m always happy to do the same to people that want to pick my brain.

What can businesses/government/allies do to help diversity and inclusion?

To improve diversity and inclusion, it definitely needs to be a collective effort. And it requires action, not just talk. As with many things, diversity often appears to be more of a discussion point rather than implementing tangible changes. It’s crucial therefore, for businesses to get their own houses in order. Tech is particularly bad with gender diversity, and development services within tech are probably even worse. At Deazy, we’ve made great efforts to have as balanced a workplace as possible, but the talent pool is smaller for women, making recruitment harder. That goes right back to school – is there enough encouragement and support for girls to study STEM subjects?

But businesses can undoubtedly do more to empower female employees. Ensuring work is a healthy and supportive environment and giving responsibility and recognition where it’s due. We are transitioning to becoming a platform-based business, and Andrea, our senior product manager is absolutely integral to that. We couldn’t make that transition without her, and it’s important that she is made aware of this and knows the value of her work.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

Because there is gender inequality in the workplace. With any form of sexism or inequality, it’s the men that need to be educated – women are only too aware of the problem. Without discussion and education, nothing will change. If a man doesn’t support gender equality, then they are undoubtedly part of the problem.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

My advice to my younger self would be to ‘focus’. I had lots of good ideas before starting Deazy and even as I started it, I tried to run a portfolio lifestyle. To succeed as a startup takes total focus on the business and in turn focus on the problem you solve, who you solve that problem for and how you solve it. You cannot afford any distractions. When I started focusing on Deazy I saw it start working and the journey has been one of continual refinement of that focus across the business.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

It’s about taking Deazy to the next level but ensuring that we keep sight of everything that has already worked for us as we do. It’s a happy, diverse culture, everyone pulls in the same direction, and people know that they are valued and respected. If we grew the company but lost that element, I would consider that a failure on my part.

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