In conversation with Steve Robson, founder of ea Change Group...
What are the origins of ea Change Group?
EA initially stood for Euro Associates. I had been running the Euro Programme for a major Professional Services firm since 1996 and with the impending arrival of the Euro in mainland Europe set for 1st Jan 1999 with a planned adoption by the UK for a year later - it felt like the right time to set up EA and I am pleased to say that history has proven this to have been a sound decision. The company was founded on 26th January 1998 operating out of London for the first 12 years then expanding into a regional structure with offices in Edinburgh, Leeds, Bristol and the City of London to enable us to service clients locally - all supported by a shared service back-office run out of our HQ in Twickenham.
What was your background before ea?
I started in IT as a Programmer back in 1977 - when computing was still very basic and lots of fun as we had no rules and little knowledge! I spent 10 years in industry - IT then Project Management and then moved into FS Consulting to work on the "big bang", the deregulation of the stock exchange in London, followed by many other countries. Over time I moved into General Management, ultimately running Financial Services Practices for a number of global Professional Services firms.
At what point did you know the company was going to be a success?
Success is something you never stop chasing and it comes in different shapes and sizes depending where you are as a company in your evolution. It is always important not to get complacent as success and client business is not a right - it needs to be won over and over again.
I guess I knew things were going well when the phone started ringing and we began to get more work than we could manage. After about 5 years we felt that we had maybe established something that would be sustainable. Now after nearly 18 years we are moving into different levels of success but we always focus on staying fresh to grow.
What were the most significant milestones for the company?
Winning our first deal to run the Global Euro Programme for Credit Suisse 4 days after we started has to be up there!
Also winning the deal to run the biggest Euro Programme globally for Deutsche Bank
and winning the 121 to T-Mobile Customer Experience merger Change Programme against 5 other more experienced companies - this lead to JD Power awarding T-Mobile "the best call ever" to the Project we designed and ran.
Winning our first assignment at Lloyds Bank back in late 1998 was pretty major too - a short 15 day review for the General Executive Committee of how prepared LBG were for the UK entering the Euro. 17 years later we have never left and have at times had over 500 people working in all areas of change deployed across all divisions of the bank.
Our more recent expansion into new geographies has also had a major impact on the business with us now boasting global clients and projects running from our Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong bases.
How would you describe the company ethos?
That is an easy one, as fundamentally it has never changed over the years
- We focus on delivering great change outcomes
- We form very long-term relationships with clients, associates and business partners and stick with these through good and bad times
- We set and deliver to very high standards
- We will not work in any form of defence or people harming industries
- As a business we aim to make a fair profit - but not at the expense of any of the above
Tell us about some of your highlights over the years with ea?
That is much harder one as there are so many, but here are a few:
- Winning our first deal at LBG against the same big 4 firm I would have joined had I not started EA
- Getting in the Sunday Times - Virgin top 100 fastest growing companies - 2 years in a row
- Breaking into new markets across the globe
- Meeting our associates - I am always amazed how fantastic they are and how proud they are to be working with EA - for me it is a privilege that such great professionals choose to work with us
- Winning business against the odds - every time we win against a bigger player I get a kick
- Hearing about our Shared Service Team getting top marks from Audits from our Clients - this is a tough and highly regulated market now and we are Top of our game and this is something to be very proud of.
Finally - ea are operating in an ever changing market, what are your thoughts on the impact of new payment technologies such as Apple Pay on the banking sector?
I think the next jump will probably be something most of us haven't yet thought about as the changes we have seen so far and the possibilities for future change are so great and so fast that it is hard to predict - but here are a few ideas
- The new retail banks do not exist yet - watch FB - Amazon - Telco's etc. - they have the technology, they could get banking licenses and they are closer to the new Y generation than traditional banks
- WeeChat and other socio-economic technologies will help move banking into the socio-economic world. People now want a mortgage quote in 15 minutes so why not a quote that only lasts for a day and all possible in the speed of light with the technology we now have