5 September 2017
Johanna Bjarsch Follin
On 1 March, Alexander Goodwille took over as the CEO of SCC Patron Goodwille, the company his mother founded 20 years ago. Goodwille, a well-known name in the Swedish network, has helped several SCC Members establish in the UK. The company was founded in 1997 and has since worked with over 1,800 clients with a focus on Nordic companies. This September, Goodwille will celebrate its 20th anniversary and is organising events for its clients in both London and Stockholm. The SCC spoke to Alexander to find out more about his first few months in the role and his plans for the future of the company.
Tell us about your background?
I was born in Sweden back in 1983 and my parents shortly after moved to England. I have lived in London for all my life, apart from two years in Dubai and four years at university when I went to Southampton to study engineering. For the last ten years I have been working in investment banking before deciding to join Goodwille.
Explain what Goodwille does in just a few sentences.
We offer professional business services covering five key departments; Corporate Legal, Finance, People Management, Payroll and Virtual Offices.
We take care of all the headaches associated with running a business, so you can focus purely on business development. We are very personal in our service and we have a great network both locally and internationally to call on should our clients need extra support. If you are running a business in the UK, it is likely there is an element we can support you with.
Your mother founded this company. How does it feel to carry on the work that she started?
My mother and I had talked about it for a long time. She was good in the sense that she never put any pressure on my brothers or me to take over. I got much more involved in the company in the years prior to her unfortunate passing. Looking back on it, I knew I was going to take over Goodwille at some point. Even if it has only been a brief time, it has been really exciting to get more involved with our network and clients and hear more about their plans and ideas. We have a clear vision on where we want to take Goodwille over the coming years, and I’m really looking forward to making it happen with the support of the team.
What are the challenges in your role?
One of the biggest challenges, like with any founder company, is that it is usually heavily reliant on that founder. I think that was to a large extent the case with my mother, especially on the marketing and brand side. She WAS Goodwille. One of the biggest challenges is to build Goodwille as a brand that is not based on someone but to still keep that family feel. I think that is very important. Last year was our strongest yet in terms of growth and new client wins, so there is a lot to look forward to. We then of course have the obvious stuff like Brexit, which will be interesting, but only time will tell on that one.
What is your plan for the coming year?
The boring side of that is data protection, the European General Data Protection Regulation is entering into force next year and is going to bring with it work for us and our clients. We also have increasing pressures and responsibilities around anti-money laundering as new EU legislation is implemented.
The more exciting part will be evaluating expansion into other markets. And then I want to see if there are any other complimentary services that we can add to our offering, either through ourselves or our larger network.
What part of your job motivates you to get up in the morning?
I love hearing about others’ businesses plans and then working to see how Goodwille can help them achieve it. Particularly when I see new brands enter the UK for the first time, companies like iZettle and Lindex, and watch them grow into household names. Personally, the whole tech side really interests me. Sweden is great for tech start-ups and as that is my background, so when we get these ambitious tech start-ups knock at our door wanting our help, it really excites me.
How has the shift been, going from being an investment banker to running a business?
I love it. After ten years in organisations with over 100,000 people I now sit with 30 people and knowing everyone is really nice. At big companies, you do not have that personal touch so really getting that time to get to know who you are working with on a personal level is great.
Describe yourself in three words.
Adventurous, entrepreneurial, generous.
How does that translate to you being a good CEO?
I read somewhere recently that great leaders see hierarchy the other way around, so it is not a pyramid, it is a V, and I definitely believe that. So, my job is to make sure that the staff at Goodwille have everything they need, so they can in turn support our clients. I am passionate about this business and I work hard to make sure it is a success and that it is a good place to work for the Goodwille staff. I think I am a very inclusive boss. I always give people time and I love to really give people a chance to build their careers. Every business has people that really love the industry and who will stay for a long time and then you have, especially in London, people that come and go because they want to move on to do other things. I will still give my staff time and support. I learnt this from my mother - just seeing people grow is such a rewarding aspect of work.
Goodwille celebrates 20 year this autumn. What will you do to celebrate?
We are holding an event in Farringdon, London on 14 September and one in Stockholm on 21 September at Epicenter. We will invite our clients and partners as well as our larger network. There will be live entertainment, food and drink and great networking opportunities. The Stockholm event will include seminars for 50 of Stockholm’s hottest start-ups from leading professionals at SCC Members Northzone (around raising investment), DeliberatePR, (around raising your profile) and Trustly (on their international success).
If you are interested in attending the events, visit here for more information.