Getting To Know You: Jonathan Jordan, CEO, Sermelo

What do you currently do?
I run a company called Sermelo – which means conversation in Latin– that helps clients achieve better results by improving their communications. We are living in a world where there are lots of new ways to share information – some of which we see as relevant and interesting, while some of it we categorise as just noise. We believe more of the former, and less of the latter builds better relationships, something that all our clients want.

What is your inspiration in business?
I originally trained as an engineer and I like the problem-solving aspects of my work, which often involves building a good understanding of the challenges a client may face and finding ways to address the rational and emotional dimensions of that challenge. In my experience, you need sound processes and a strong team culture to consistently achieve success.

Who do you admire?
I admire people who are prepared to roll up their sleeves, work alongside their colleagues, invest in improving skills and be highly responsive to the needs of customers and can deliver new ideas and concepts. In the retail environment, for example, leaders such Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA and Sir Terry Leahy, the former CEO of Tesco have transformed their sectors.

Looking back, would you have done things differently?
Of course there are things I wish I had done better, and there are mistakes I should have avoided. For the most part, I think (within reason!) there is no such thing as a bad experience provided you keep learning things. The thing I like most about my job is that I learn new things every day.

What defines your way of doing business?
I try and make sure that everyone is clear on the mission and objectives, and understands what we’re trying to achieve – we call this strategic alignment. This can take a while to nail down, but once this is in place, you can empower colleagues to use their own insights, creativity and energy to achieve results. At one level this is very simple, but in the immediate and complex world we inhabit, it’s often something we forget to do well.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Starting a business is a humbling experience and that is something to be embraced. Remember that customers or clients are putting their trust in you, and you can’t let them down. I was also advised to understand the difference between persistence and tenacity. Doing the wrong thing stubbornly and repeatedly doesn’t always yield results; however, if you can learn to be adaptable and quickly improve on perceived or actual shortcomings, you tend to make progress quicker.