Inside Ordo – The life of a CEO

Ever wondered what the life of a CEO entails? How does one become a CEO? Where does inspiration come from when you play the role of inspirer?
In answer to this, we caught up with our CEO, Craig Tillotson, to shed light on where his career started and how it led to the birth of Ordo.
Not to mention, how he’ll be spending his spare time with three teenage sons soon off to university!

How did you get into the industry?

Well, it was via a slightly strange route, as I spent most of my earlier working days in strategy consulting before moving on to mobile telecoms.

My main role here was to support growth within the industry, spending 15 years at One 2 One and then Vodafone, introducing the very first mobile data services like Vodafone Live with the famous Sharp flip phone (The ‘Beckham Phone’). 

Amazingly in this period, we went from voice only service, added texting (no, it was not widely available at the start!), introduced the first add on data (2.5G services) and then onto 3G and 4G. 

In 2000 I had the interesting experience of paying £4bn for one of the first 3G licences. It felt like a lot of money at the time, but just look at what mobile data has enabled today.

Leading on from this, I then became the Chief Executive Officer of the UK’s Faster Payments Scheme.

Coming into this, I was not a payments geek, however, working alongside a small team of global experts and banks supporting the scheme, my knowledge soon grew and many of the people I learnt from, came with me to build Ordo.

So, whilst Ordo is just under 4 years old, the team have actually been working together for almost 10 years!

What are the key focus areas in open banking right now?

My observation is there are two areas of focus right now – one of which already exists.

Maturing capability in terms of performance, meeting customer’s needs, account information services and payment initiation processes are pretty much there, in terms of being an integral part of most banks’ day to day operations.

However, adding another capability is a focus, because there’s so much that can be done in this area.

Variable recurring payments (VRP) for example, is a capability that is looking to be rolled out in 2022.

Payments as they stand, are generally about making a single payment, however, VRP allows you to authorise a whole series of payments.

Ordo can then make those payments on your behalf, differing from direct debits, VRP provides you with the opportunity to agree what the term of the payment is, the maximum amount, and the frequency of the payments, and the business you are working with to collect payment in real time.

What’s more, you can stop that authority at any time, with the whole system working in real time as opposed to the typical 48 hrs delay often needed to stop a direct debit.  Its all about putting businesses and their customers in control of their payments.

What inspires you most as the CEO of Ordo?

The short answer is the people.

Partnerships, colleagues, associated businesses, suppliers, all ready to do the seemly impossible, is really what inspires me most.

This job would be awfully hard to do on my own and as much as I look forward to generating ideas and providing products and services that can be of use to people, when I suggest an idea and someone comes back with an even better idea, THAT’S inspiration.

What is the biggest lesson you have learnt in your role at Ordo?

Flexibility.

To continue to achieve objectives in a different way is vital, you cannot stay rigid and unwilling to become agile, especially in an industry that is everchanging.

A clear vision comes hand in hand with being able to adapt and flex, you need a vision, of course, but you’ve also got to be flexible about how you intend to reach your destination, not becoming naïve to the fact that there will be bumps in the road that require you to take a different path to success.

What are some of the main challenges you have navigated throughout the pandemic?

I’d say mid-March 2020 was the time that we felt our biggest challenge.

Suddenly, having been an office-based organisation, it was no more office work overnight and there were these huge transformational changes, not just in ‘what’s going on with the business?’ but also ‘what’s going on in life?’

So many questions were presented at that time that we had to find answers to, the most prominent being ‘How are we going to operate as a team and work with clients?’

That time really was a ‘test and adjust’ situation and from a technical perspective the new processes and procedures we implemented worked well and we discovered we could demonstrate the Ordo mobile service much more effectively via Teams.

Within a couple of months, we had got to a good place and realised that we had a lot of technological factors that worked in our favour!

What do you do in your spare time?

Well, I enjoy sports, being out in the fresh air, particularly the garden, spending time with my 3 sons, however, they are in their late teens now and will soon be going off to university.

Most of the last 20 years of my life has been spent with them so, ask me this question again in a year!

What three things would you tell your younger self?

Wow, what a question!

There are lots of things I would tell my younger self, but I think the most important are:

  • When you come up with a new idea, don’t dismiss it because no one seems to have done it before, trust your judgement, you could just be first!
  • Keep focussed, do the things you enjoy and in turn you will be good at them
  • Live life now, this is not a dress rehearsal, don’t spend your life planning what you’ll do one day, do it now.

If you would like to discuss any of our products and services in further detail, contact us here or call Isabel Robson on 07795075134

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