Xero chief partner officer Anna Curzon was recently recognised as one of the top 25 women leaders in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) by The SaaS Report alongside women from organisations like IBM, Microsoft, and Marketo.
Techday spoke to Curzon about what the recognition means for her and for the cloud accounting software company.
What achievements would you put this down to and what enabled them to happen?
I'm blown away by being named in the Top 25 women leaders globally in SaaS - I had no idea it was coming! What a wonderful surprise. It's a real honour to be recognised alongside so many high calibre women in technology who are individually and collectively achieving great things.
I think the placing recognises my experience in this role, my work prior to this and the digital journey I've been on. At Xero, my team and I have been able to make a real impact in a short time, by supporting the people that support small business - our accountants and bookkeepers, and our ecosystem partners. Working with Xeros across the globe, we’ve really mobilised our vision for our partners right across our community this year.
Our purpose here at Xero is to have a positive impact on the world by helping small businesses to thrive. We know through our research that the two things that drive success for any small business are having an accountant or bookkeeper by their side, and driving efficiencies and insights through the use of cloud apps. So by listening carefully to our partners and teams across the world, we’re able to build a really strong product roadmap and provide the tools, information and insights that genuinely benefit our partners, and help them build both their businesses and their clients. The launch of our Xero HQ App Partners along with Xero Projects at Xerocon Melbourne were two examples of how we are really delivering to our partners’ needs.
What gives you motivation in your role?
I have a personal purpose to democratise success through technology, and I’m lucky enough to be able to live this every day at Xero. We are giving our partners and their small business clients the tools and insights that were once only available to big business. Through AI and machine learning we’re driving real efficiencies into our small business community while arming our partners with the insights and information to provide the advice and expertise their clients need to thrive.
The people I work with - the beautiful humans of Xero, our Partners and our small businesses drive me every day to do the best work of my life. There is no other small business platform that can globally impact the small business economy the way the Xero community can. When small businesses win, families win, more jobs are created, communities and ultimately economies are stronger. How cool is it to wake up every day and genuinely understand that the work you’re doing can have such a positive influence on the world? I’m having the time of my life, and I know the best is yet to come!
What are the goals you have set for yourself/ your organisation in this role?
I am passionate about growing our Partner channels - our accountants and bookkeepers, the Xero Ecosystem and App partners we integrate with, to help small businesses succeed. There is so much coming, advancements in things like artificial intelligence and machine learning mean we really are in the golden age of accounting, so anything is possible! This is a new era where we celebrate accountants and bookkeepers as the heroes of small businesses, and our goal is to support them to continue to go from strength to strength in support of their clients. It’s the only way we’ll reach our purpose of having a positive impact on the world by helping small businesses to thrive.
Embedding our Xero Lifelong Learning Platform will be super important as we aim to make Xero the standard globally. Xero is working closely with education experts and institutions, including Swinburne University of Technology in Australia to create and deliver courses available online initially in Australia and New Zealand, and globally in 2018.
At a personal and organisational level, we are also focused on creating a community where women can thrive. The Xero community is really remarkable in this way. Not only do we have great gender representation amongst our C Team, but we also see this right across our community.
This was really apparent at our Xerocon in Melbourne a few weeks ago. Looking out at the audience, it looked equally gender balanced. And I noted as I looked across a panel I was participating in for the launch of our Xero HQ App Partners, that the panel of 10 was perfectly equal from a gender perspective. This wasn’t by design, but a natural reflection of our organisation and our partners. It was very cool to see that women like Amreeta Abbott from Now Infinity, Anna Lawrence from BOMA, Amy Harris and Hannah McIntyre from Futrli, and Sophie Hossack from Receipt Bank - all CEOs, Founders and Managing Directors are thriving in this community with their respective businesses.
I think SaaS businesses create the efficiencies and flexibility for women to thrive in. Great SaaS businesses promote transparency, trust and collaboration, which promotes a culture of meritocracy. And it’s for this reason that I’d love to encourage more women into technology, so they can do the best work of their lives.