As part of a new blog series looking at the people behind the scenes at Taulia, today we are speaking with Bob Symmons, European Finance and Operations Manager. Based in the London office, Bob wears more hats than British pop icon Jamiroquai – from managing all financial aspects for Taulia’s European businesses to conducting the health and safety inductions for new employees.
What is your job role at Taulia?
I’m the European Finance and Operations Manager, which basically means I look after all of the financial aspects for Taulia’s European businesses in Germany, Bulgaria and the UK. I’m based in London, which is effectively our European headquarters.
I also manage HR for Germany and the UK, and look after our office space. We’re actually about to move offices in London, so I’ve recently been spending time choosing the new location, getting the space geared up for our employees and, most importantly, picking the carpets.
Where did you work previously and what was it like joining Taulia?
So before joining Taulia, I was at a company called GXS, which was an EDI provider with about 2,500 members of staff. When I joined, the company was initially part of General Electric (GE), but it spun off from GE as an independent entity in 2002. In total I was at the company for 32 years. Prior to me leaving, I was managing about 50 people globally in a billing and collections role.
I remember my first day at Taulia vividly. I walked into the former London office and was greeted by Jon, Jasmine and Sylvain, who are all still here at Taulia. Coming from a typical corporate background, I didn’t quite know what I was letting myself in for, but everyone was so welcoming that I felt at home straight away.
So what was it like transitioning from a large corporate to a smaller startup?
Well, first of all, I had to get used to using a Mac… But apart from that, I’d say the transition from corporate to startup was pretty smooth. I think in a corporate environment you can get too comfortable and lose sight of the bigger picture, which is not a good thing.
Whereas at a startup like Taulia, you are involved in many more areas and, in turn, you can make a much more significant impact on the growth and development of the business. The culture was also very different from what I was used to.
Firstly, there were no politics, which was liberating. Secondly, the people at Taulia were seriously passionate about the product and service they were providing – and they were also incredibly fun. This was, and is, extremely refreshing for me, especially compared to where I came from.
How has your role developed in the 4 years you’ve been here?
Officially, my job role hasn’t changed, but it has developed in conjunction with the business growth. When I first came in, I was responsible for the UK business and the people based in London, Germany and Bulgaria, which in total was about half the number of people of what it is today.
Since then, my role has grown and I now play a bigger part in the global team. We’ve also got employees in countries like Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands, which we didn’t have when I first joined. Perhaps the biggest development is that I have much more interaction with the US organization and I look after more legal entities, people and payroll – the latest of which is Australia.
How has the business grown since you joined?
For me, at the point of joining, we were very much at the startup stage and our founders were heavily invested in the business, but that has since changed. Now, I’d describe us a ‘semi-corporate’ as we have more responsibility to manage our vast list of buyer and supplier customers globally. We do still retain that startup mentality however, which helps us get stuff done at speed.
Have any achievements particularly shone out for you?
A pivotal moment for me was when the business became profitable. Whilst a lot of people might not understand the enormity of this, as a finance guy I certainly do. It demonstrates just how far we’ve come as a business in facts, numbers and figures.
To wrap things up, what do you love most about working at Taulia?
That’s easy, it’s got to be the people. My colleagues at Taulia are incredibly diverse, talented and hard-working. I can hand-on-heart say it’s been a pleasure meeting and working with so many great people and they’ve single-handedly made the last 4 years so enjoyable for me. I can’t wait to see where we’re going to be in the next few years!