Mirror Review’s team had an engaging talk with Dave O’Brien, the CEO of Agreement Express (AEX), where he shares his unique leadership expertise. Likewise, Dave explains how he keeps pace with the rapidly transforming world of tech, and how he moves AEX toward continued success. Dave told us, “We are on a mission to enable financial services firms to grow revenue and profitability, drive down servicing costs, simplify compliance, and optimize the onboarding experience.” Here are the excerpts.
A Leader Must Inspire Others to Push Beyond Limitations and Innovate
Whom do you see as an ideal leader and why?
Stephan J Decatur, a naval commander whose bravery and outstanding leadership solidified him a place in the history as a hero. When the USS Philadelphia — the first US Navy ship — was captured by pirates, Stephan and his men attacked the pirates in a valiant effort to recapture the ship. They stormed the ship, recaptured it, and burned it while escaping under cannon fire. With such feats of bravery, Commander Stephan inspired bravery in others. He led from the front and thought outside-of-the-box. He was a deep thinker who was extensively result-oriented.
I feel that a great leader must have the aptitude and discipline to navigate every situation with a calm and steady hand, particularly while weathering a storm. In today’s world, a leader must be empathetic and inspire and empower others to move out of their comfort zones. He or she needs to drive creativity and fuel innovation. All of this needs to happen upon a foundation of integrity and accountability.
Adapting Quickly to Keep Pace
As a leader, what are the challenges do you face and how you tackle them?
In today’s environment, where things change rapidly and continuously—a challenge that every CEO faces is the pace at which the world is moving. In order to keep pace and continue moving in the right direction, a leader must focus on creating, maintaining, optimizing, and managing the strategies by which their organization is going to achieve desired business outcomes.
This requires consistent communication with other members of leadership and management such as quarterly strategy sessions with monthly check-ins. This ensures that all team members are informed and aligned so that all decision-makers and stakeholders are moving in the right direction with a focus on meeting agreed upon goals. A leader must create a clear strategy for the business, often while navigating a storm of issues.
Stumbling Blocks Are Inevitable: Be Prepared to Pick Yourself Up and Keep Moving Forward
Introduce us to your team. What is the importance of a team for a leader?
The team at Agreement Express knows we’re moving incredibly fast and running on all cylinders. As we push forward, we’ll stumble along the way and even make mistakes, but we understand that’s okay because it’s a part of our maturation process as a team. Even when we hit stumbling blocks, our fellow team members are there to dust us off and help us move forward.
In my experience, a strong team reduces unnecessary conflicts and communicates with transparency and respect. Our team meets regularly to discuss goals and priorities to ensure we’re aligned. Similarly, we also operate with a posture of accountability towards one another, which further promotes synergy and velocity across the entire employee base.
Simplifying Complex Experiences for Customers and their Clients
Tell us about Agreement Express. How it differentiates from its competitors?
At Agreement Express, we strive to offer a true end-to-end, seamless customer onboarding experience. Our unique quality is the domain expertise of our employees. We recognized the innate need for incredible customer onboarding experience a long time ago. As a result, we’ve worked to develop the technology to meet this market demand. We’ve also learned numerous lessons along the way (some harder than others).
Today, we are one hundred percent focused on helping our customers grow by enabling them to drive incredible CX for their clients. We’re doing this by providing a sophisticated and innovative technology solution that makes an extremely complex, convoluted and cumbersome experience appear easy and seamless to our customers and their clients.
The future of AEX will be marked with constant innovation as we create an entirely new way to onboard customers and merchants in financial verticals and reshape the market’s expectation for what this experience should be.
Change Starts with Yourself
What change do you wish to implement in the world?
I want to make a difference not only in improving customers’ business experiences, but also to personally challenge every employee to be the very best that they can be . . . to step out of their comfort zones and stretch themselves. I believe that the biggest impact I can have as a leader is to inspire and motivate people to take ownership over their own careers so they too can make a difference in their own lives, and the lives of those they encounter.
To truly affect change, I think we need to first look in the mirror and to be honest with ourselves about what we see. How hard are you working? What are you doing to be world class? How good of a human are you? What can you do better in life? People spend more time planning a weekend than they do pulling over and contemplating how they are doing in life.