John Banfield remembers when he stopped having his own office. The BPAY Group boss doesn’t miss it, even if it was a little lonely in the early days.
“We introduced activity-based seating to empower people to work where they’ll be most productive that day and to break down silos,” he says.
“Setting the example is really important but because I get in so early, no one sat next to me. So I said, (jokingly) ‘Okay, I’m going to give a pay increase to someone that sits next to me because I’m getting lonely’.”
Just over a year later and Banfield has plenty of company. It’s a small emblem of the organisation’s broader cultural change under his leadership, one that has turned it into a collaborative and innovative company.
"So it’s important that we diversify with new services, which also has the key benefit of solving frictions that Australians have in their day-to-day lives.”
While BPAY payments are still growing strongly more than two decades since launch, the growing threat of digital disruption has been a key driver of the change.
“We always think about the fact that, at some point, we could get disrupted or the banks could come up with other solutions. So it’s important that we diversify with new services, which also has the key benefit of solving frictions that Australians have in their day-to-day lives.”
The new approach has already produced transformative real-time payments service Osko
– the first product built on the New Payments Platform – and other major new developments are in the pipeline. Osko has already processed more than ten million payments in its first few months as Australians embrace near-instant payments.
It would not have been possible without a new vision and values that have re-energised the company’s 125 staff.
“One of the key things we want our leaders to do is build trust and empowerment,” says BPAY Group General Manager People and Culture, Lucy Lithgow. “That can be challenging as most leaders like to maintain a degree of control. But true leadership isn’t just about people management, it’s about creating an environment where people can be curious, creative and the best that they can be.”
BPAY Group’s new corporate values are captured in four sayings: Minds Wide Open (be curious and open to new possibilities); Always Step Forward (strive for excellence); Better Together (focus on purposeful collaboration); and Think Customer (always put customers at the centre).
For Banfield, living those values comes down to leadership style.
“For me, being curious is about empowering others to ask questions and challenging current ways of thinking and doing things. There’s got to be a level of trust there. Listening to understand rather than listening to respond is also really important. I have an acronym that I use all the time at home because I have twin boys, and at work: MAD. It’s not about being ‘mad’, it’s about ‘Making a Difference’. If we all attempt to make a difference in everything we do, then we’ll create this groundswell of engagement – the passion and energy comes with that.”
BPAY Group is currently in the running to be recognised for the People Scout Employer of Choice category (100-999 employees) in the Australian HR Awards 2018
A focus on culture has set the foundation for further innovation, including two new BPAY Group businesses developed through a partnership with Boston Consulting Group Digital Ventures.
The first, Lodge, will focus on residential property technology for self-managed investors. The second, Sypht, will use machine learning and artificial intelligence to unlock the power of data.
BPAY Group introduced a revolutionary change more than two decades ago when it first made paying bills simpler. It’s now extending that revolution across an even broader array of services that are set to have similarly big benefits for all Australians.
This article represents the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BPAY.
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