Mar 1, 2022
Introduction: Andrea Linehan is listed as one
of the top 30 most influential Marketeers. She is a regular speaker
at conferences and universities on subjects such as Marketing,
Branding, Financial Inclusion, Social Entrepreneurship, Fintech
start-ups/scale-ups and many more. After 10 years in Oman she
returned to Ireland to join, as CMO, a FinTech start-up called GRID
Finance. After 5
years she joined Currency Fair. Currency Fair Enterprises and
Assembly Payments merged in April of 2021 to form the new company
called Zai. Andrea holds a BSc(HONS)in Finance and is a
Postgraduate of the Chartered Institute of Marketeers. She hold an
MBA from Trinity College Dublin and is a Chartered Management
Podcast Episode Summary
This episode explores the Merger of two scale-up companies,
Currency Fair Enterprises and Assembly Payments, and the work
involved in bringing two top teams together. Conscious of the
anaemic success rates of merged entities Andrea shares how her
company and especially because of her CEO Paul Byrne, committed the
time, multiple workshops across a diverse population of
representatives to get aligned on the fundamentals: Purpose,
Mission, Vision, Attributes and Personality. This work was
completed against a backdrop of business as usual, Covid and the
regulatory/legal machinations of combining two entities. Much of
the work was completed over zoom.
Points made over the episode
- Andrea shares how she started her academic
life studying computers but by year three discovered she needed to
pivot to Finance and Accounting.
- Andrea initially figured she would join one of the big four but
after exploring what these entities might mean she joined Aer
Rianta and a role in the Middle East
- She moved to Oman without a job and quickly found her footing.
She found herself too in Oman. She was shaped as a woman and learnt
so much about different cultures
- Fintech found Andrea. When Andrea returned to Ireland, after 10
Years in the Middle East she was curious to know what direction to
take her career. She chose to do an MBA at Trinity College Dublin,
- She was fortuitously introduced to the two founders of a
FinTech start-up by her Professor, Eoin O Neill of TCD.
- She joined the FinTech company called GRID Finance and worked
there for five
- Andrea then shares the story of the merger of FinTech Currency
Fair, where she joined as CMO and Assembly Payments, made in part
possible by the investment of Standard Chartered
- The Merger was announced in April 2021.
- Andrea describes how the Merger made two scale-ups slow down
when so much else about the company was moving at pace.
- Two macro forces, The Merger process and Covid meant a lot of
moving parts and added complexity.
- All of this work was happening over zoom
- The two top teams, the task force and many colleagues had to
build trust over zoom
- The success of this process was in large measure down to the
willingness of the companies to take the time to form a task group
and do the work necessary to peel back the layers to determine what
really mattered for each entity in terms of values, mission,
visions, attributes &personality
- The two companies, Currency Fair and Assembly Payments realised
they were enormously aligned.
- A proposal made by Andrea to the Board to look at the Branding
for the merged entities made these various conversations meaningful
- The process involved bringing the two top teams together along
with representatives from both sides of the business from different
parts of the business to form a task team.
- Importantly the two entities did not go at this work alone and
instead brought in an independent expert from Human Dynamics to
support the work.
- The new company name emerged as Zai.
- This first piece of tangible work completed by the two merged
entities instilled a lot of confidence for the future.
- Andrea shares what the work entailed.
- The work to create a Minimum Viable Brand. Work was completed
on creating a value set and company characteristics. The Human
Dynamic expert, Adam, helped align the values set with a potential
North Star or Purpose for the company.
- Multiple conversations and workshops were had to iron out
inconsistencies, fears, concerns and areas of mistrust.
- The members had to be willing to refine their work several
times over many workshops and this process, where people showed up
and were vulnerable sharing their concerns helped people understand
each other’s drivers/motivations, personalities and thinking and
helped forge a team identity.
- Laughter was a big factor and contributed to the success of the
project on zoom.
- Time for these workshop was preserved by respecting some
non-negotiables included blocking out time, the “Golden Hours” of
7am to 10am in the morning.
- After two years of working together via Zoom, Travel to
Australia served to foster relationships further.
- The Zai Leadership team met in London last week. Despite the
obvious distractions of needing to work on a strategy and road map,
the team was disciplined enough to spend the majority of time
getting to know each other.
- The Human Dynamic Expert flew to London to join the team for
- The team revisited the Mission, Purpose, Values, work of the
previous year to assess it for its currency and fit for
- The team used Hogan Psychometrics to get to understand each
other better, to appreciate the gaps in personalities and needs
each person had and to consider what that might mean for the
- Two things stood out as making this work possible.
- The CEO Paul Byrne wholly believes in the work of establishing
Vision, Mission, Purpose and Values to build a foundation from
which to operate.
- The team itself was hand-picked by Paul for their commitment,
passion and interest in working together as a team.
- Andrea loves the work of professional development and did not
expect to go on a transformational journey of her own. Over the
week she was with the top team. she discovered, surprisingly, that
she had a trust barrier she did not know existed.
- Andrea believes the trust factor on teams unlocks so much.
Finding a way to be in conversation with your colleagues about
Trust is important.
- Andrea did not envisage she would be so proud of the culture
that Zai is creating and she is excited to embark on the next piece
of work to bring an Employee Brand to life.
- The company will certainly be busy in the near future. Zai
expects to enter 7/10 new markets. It also expects to develop
several new products and to grow its employee base from 200 to
- A busy few years ahead.