20 QUESTIONS: Brynne Herbert, MOVE Guides

The founder of the employee relocation company and former US gymnast says we should all be looking east - and lambasts the 'horrendously antiquated' world of banking.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 08 Oct 2014

1. IF YOU HAD DONE SOMETHING ELSE WHAT WOULD IT HAVE BEEN?

I always loved to travel, so I probably would’ve wanted to open a hotel chain.

2. WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU NAME YOUR BUSINESS?

Initially, I wanted it to be Move, because that’s one word and quite straightforward to say, but Move.com was actually taken.

3. IF YOU COULD BE BASED IN ANOTHER CITY WHERE WOULD IT BE?

It’s a toss up between Hong Kong and San Francisco. We have investors in San Francisco, a lot of our clients are large technology companies, and my in-laws live in San Francisco. But our business is very global, so I think Hong Kong would be my choice with the growth in mobility towards Asia.

4. WHEN YOU STARTED, HOW DID YOU RAISE MONEY?

We first raised an angel round of £400,000 under the government's Enterprise Investment Scheme, which was fantastically helpful. Some of those people were the likes of Sherry Coutu, Dale Murray, and various other angel investors in Europe.

5. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST IMPORTANT DECISION SO FAR?

The people I’ve hired have absolutely been the most important decision. Also, the decision to base it in London, because we are a global company, operating in 90 cities across six continents. That’s only really possible from a time zone, connectivity and talent perspective in London.

6. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST MISTAKE?

Probably the same answer - some people that I’ve hired haven’t worked out. I think hiring and finding the right talent is the most difficult part of building a business.

7. WHAT IDEA DO YOU WISH YOU HAD COME UP WITH?

If I think about ideas that haven’t necessarily happened yet, a self-charging phone or some way that you wouldn’t need to be tied to cords, because it’s highly inconvenient.

8. HOW DO YOU HANDLE STRESS?

Getting away from work and spending time with my husband doing fun things. Also, physical activities - running or yoga - and reading. My favourite fiction author is Murakami, a Japanese author who writes fantastical, completely crazy books. I also like to read business biographies. 

9. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB?

I never really worked until I graduated from university, because I did gymnastics for the US and then at Yale, where I was an undergraduate, so that was pretty much a job in itself. When I graduated my first job was at Lehman Brothers.

10. WHAT WAS YOUR WORST JOB?

Probably investment banking, early in my career, making lots and lots of pitch decks and working all night long. On the flipside, the skills I learnt were critical to where we are as a business today. I think it really comes down to the boss you work for at particular points in time.

11. WHAT WAS YOUR BEST JOB?

Going to London Business School for a two-year MBA – a job I paid for. There was a very diverse student body with more than 100 nationalities, who all had really different experiences and cultural perspectives. It’s definitely a fantastic learning experience.

12. IF YOU WERE ON THE APPRENTICE WOULD YOUR TEAM BE NAMED?

My Apprentice team would be called The Winner. We would win. I would not be so pleased if my team didn’t win.

13. WHAT COMPANY WOULD YOU INVEST IN RIGHT NOW?

The banking world is horrendously antiquated at the moment, so probably companies like Currency Cloud, which we share investors with and is transforming B2B payments, Transferwise, which is transforming consumer payments, and some of the mobile payments solutions like iZettle and Square.

14. APART FROM PROPERTY, WHAT IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE THING YOU’VE BOUGHT?

I definitely don’t own property in London. The most expensive thing I’ve bought is probably my husband’s Christmas present, a leather travel bag. I actually don’t remember what brand it was.

15. SUIT OR JEANS?

A dress.

16. FLEXIBLE WORKING OR OFFICE HOURS?

Definitely flexible working. As a technology company and as a start up, we like to provide employees with flexibility and treat people like adults if they behave like adults. Nine-to-five office hours are pretty much a thing of the past in my view.

17. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT THE OFFICE?

We just moved into a new office and my favourite thing about it is we now have clocks on the wall with five different time zones. I don’t have to constantly ask my colleagues what time it is in different cities.

18. WHAT APP CAN’T YOU LIVE WITHOUT?

Up until about 20 hours ago, I thought that the Sleep Cycle app was very interesting, but then I decided that it wasn’t actually that productive for it to tell me every day that I slept for four hours with 30% positivity. So I’ve done away with that one. The app I can’t live without now is Asana, which contains my to do list.

19. WHO IS YOUR BUSINESS IDOL?

Dave Duffield, who founded the HR companies Workday and Peoplesoft.

20. IF YOU WERE PRIME MINSTER FOR THE DAY, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?

The immigration policy. I would expedite the visa process, do away with the quotas and do away with the debate about whether or not the UK should remain part of the European Union. I’d really streamline the process for businesses to get the right talent into the UK to drive growth.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Subscribe

Get your essential reading delivered. Subscribe to Management Today