Executive InterviewsLatest

Meet Liam Maddock – Innovation that Creates Growth

Today we have selected Liam C. Maddock M.B.A. to take his interview. He is the Exec VP Marketing At GeniusAvenue.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

We have uniquely suited to weather the kind of storm that COVID-19 created. We decided to move our corporate headquarters to Tucson, AZ, from Scottsdale, AZ, in 2019, which allowed us to shut down our larger office in Scottsdale and move the bulk of the team to remote. As luck would have it, we completed our move to remote shortly before the pandemic kicked in. Our new Tucson headquarters officially opened on March 13th, literally 4 days before Tucson shut down for the pandemic, so most of our Tucson-based team just moved to home offices.

It was still challenging, of course, but everyone was very supportive and understanding. We also have a Family First ethos built into our culture that encouraged team members with children, and those supporting friends and relatives who were affected, to keep the needs of their families, friends, and loved ones their top priority.

Our Tucson headquarters is now opened and occupied, and while we are keeping our flexible work policy in place, it is really great to have people in the office again.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?

I have been a marketer for over two decades. I have had the privilege to work with a huge range of corporations ranging from automotive and RV to technology-centric consulting firms and world-class digital marketing agencies. When I heard about an opportunity to work with Charlie Horn and the team he was assembling to lead Genius Avenue into its next phase of growth and innovation, I jumped at the chance. I have never worked with such an amazing group of people.

How does your company innovate?

Innovation is at our core. We are trying to revolutionize how people find, purchase, and utilize voluntary benefits and insurance products. This is traditionally a  very dry, paper-oriented industry, so helping our partners unlock new channels, solutions, platforms, and opportunities requires that we constantly think outside the box. We want to push the envelope on everything, from accepting and processing cryptocurrency on behalf of our partners to introducing cutting-edge digital marketing techniques. That willingness to innovate, educate, and produce great results makes all the difference.

How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

In many ways, the Coronavirus pandemic has had a positive influence on our business. There has been a longstanding need for modernization and digital adoption in the benefits and insurance space, but many companies sidelined it. The virus has brought the need for mobile enrollment solutions, new customer experience platforms, and digital marketing to the forefront and made it a priority. Modernization can no longer be ignored. Enrollment Day is dead.

In addition, the labor shift we are seeing makes platforms and capabilities like ours even more critical to our partners. This new labor market pressures employers to provide better benefit options and solutions, coming down on brokers, carriers, and voluntary benefits providers. We solve those problems. In addition, the labor shift means more and more people are starting businesses and building their dream companies. Those people need alternative insurance and benefit options, and we are uniquely suited to help them.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

Truthfully, yes and no.

Decisions like instituting an across-the-board flexible work policy seemed challenging at the time, but necessity eliminates debate and drives decisiveness. Also, keeping our core value that “Our People Make the Difference 100% of the Time” provided a mandate and ethical north star that guided us through the hardest days. That value means that the health and happiness of our people come first and foremost, and that dictated, informed, and helped guide most decisions.

Some of our harder decisions were related to product development and rapidly shifting some of our new projects to meet the evolving macroeconomy and labor market needs. Those decisions are always stressful, but our decisions to adjust launch dates and feature sets to maximize the user experience will be validated.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

Like many companies, we all became superusers of collaborative tools like Microsoft Teams, Sharepoint, Zoom, etc., during the last year. Project management and communication tools like Monday really proved their worth and allowed the marketing group and others to stay 100% on track and, in some cases, increase output.

We also expanded our use of outsourced services in some areas. For example, it’s tough to record professional voice-overs for demos when people are all over the place. Hence, we adapted and expanded our toolkit to leverage tools like UpWork and others.

The management shift really supported people on a case-by-case basis because everyone was dealing with different challenges.

It all worked well.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

We don’t really have competitors who do exactly what we do, but quite a few overlap us on one capability or another.

We rely on our innovation and willingness to break the mold and go outside the traditional tool kit to make a difference. We are also very proud that our partners say that they enjoy working with us because we are positive people who deal honestly and provide transparency. That is the key to long-term partnerships and creating long-term value.

Your final thoughts

I feel very proud of our company and team and how we have evolved to meet the challenges of this unique period. That said, I am also aware that preparation, funding, leadership experience, and no small amount of luck were key ingredients in how effectively we weathered the storm. I would advise any executive faced with leading a team during trying times to keep compassion at the forefront. If you take care of your team, they will take care of the company.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button