5 Questions with Gemma Postlethwaite, Arizent
Gemma Postlethwaite is Arizent’s CEO, responsible for the company’s 30+ brands. Prior to joining Arizent, Postlethwaite served as CE of PIRA Energy Group, where she led a major transformation of the company and established PIRA as a leading integrated, research and data provider to the global energy markets. In 2016 Postlethwaite led the sale of PIRA Energy Group to S&P Global.
Postlethwaite has spent several years in leadership roles in the business information sector. Prior to PIRA Energy Group, she was SVP, Strategy and Operations at Altegrity, a global provider of risk and compliance solutions; and Chief Product Officer and President of Infogroup’s SMB business unit. She also spent eight years at Thomson Reuters in various leadership positions spanning from product to commercial management and also led the channel partnership business for the Investment and Advisory Division.
Additionally, Postlethwaite is a Board Member at GLG (the Gerson Lehrman Group); and proudly serves on the New York Board of the All Stars Project whose mission is to transform the lives of youth and poor communities using the developmental power of performance, in partnership with caring adults. She is a graduate of the University of Kent.
First, can you tell us what does Arizent do?
Arizent is a business information company, empowering people in financial and professional services to lead by offering unique insights and analysis, convening the foremost industry leaders on important issues of the day and delivering definitive research and benchmarking that helps our clients advance their thinking, their businesses and their personal careers.
Arizent recently transitioned from being formerly called SourceMedia. What has changed, and what was a lesson learned during this recent transition?
The transition was a big lift for us, but a crucial one. It has defined a clear sense of purpose for our employees as well as our customers. Everyone wants to believe that they play a role in making the world a better place. Our new mission of advancing professional communities matters because we spend half of our days engaged with work. If that time can be spent helping people reach their goals and breaking down barriers, it’s a pretty compelling proposition. Our goal is simple: To deliver on our mission while growing our own business and the careers of our employees.
We have a belief – both for our employees and for our clients – that everyone has the potential to lead…to rise. With powerful ideas and a strong network behind you, anyone can go from “unsung hero” to “industry change maker.” And our job at Arizent is honestly to uncover those transformative ideas, to rally leaders around them, to set them in motion and then to re-define industry standards by measuring their impact.
This is your second CEO role, what have you learned about taking the reins and what advice would you give to others taking on a new challenge?
One of the most common pieces of advice you always hear when you take on any new role or any new challenge is to make sure you’ve got a 100-day plan checklist. And it is great advice, but a checklist will only help you stay organized. It helps make sure you’re looking at some of the fundamentals, but it’s not on its own a recipe for success. That said, one of the things I always say is get to the data fast. And by that, I mean, I think that we all create stories, narratives about our company’s journeys and the roles that we take within them. It’s very easy when you’re in an organization to quickly fall in love with somebody and their narrative before you get to the facts. So I tell everybody, first get fluent in the company’s metrics even before you set foot in the building!
Obviously, there is a lot to learn in the early weeks and months. But building the connection, trust and support that you need for the entire organization to be on your team, is essential to do right from the outset. Engagement is about communicating early and often. I’ve learnt you’re better off saying: “here’s how we’re going to approach this together” – making sure we understand what are the insights we need to develop a strategy, how will we prioritize and use our resources to execute that plan and how that strategy might inform how we’ll align our organization. If you bring everyone on the journey with you, then you will have a much better chance of building true engagement.
How have you been able to navigate the pandemic? How have your teams been adjusting to the new normal of working together but apart?
I have been so proud of how our organization has adapted. Obviously, initially we had to make sure we had business continuity – adapting to working from home fully and making sure we could deliver for our customers with uninterrupted service.
What became really clear from the beginning was that we were going to have to double down on ways that were going to keep us connected as an organization: connected to our mission, connected to what we needed to achieve and connected to each other.
And to that end, we increased our communication considerably. Whereas, back in the office we would have an all-hands-on deck company meeting every month. Now we have them every single Friday. And these meetings have evolved to not just discussing business updates, where we bring in outside speakers and create a dialogue that’s about our customers, our products and services, but it’s also set in the reality of what we’re solving for both professionally and personally. These meetings also are an opportunity to get to know our colleagues. We’ve also learned to have fun together and take time to focus on our wellness, like on “Wellness Wednesdays” when we do stretching and meditating.
We do pulse surveys frequently amongst our employees to understand how people are feeling, and our engagement levels have soared during this period, which has been wonderful to see.
What will the future of financial media, and particularly Arizent, look like?
Has the pandemic changed or altered our strategy? The truth is that it hasn’t changed the strategy, but it’s forced us to accelerate our strategy.
We believe that the future role of any media company is to transform its audience of readers into a community. This creates a network of business leaders, rising stars and the products and services who can help them. Our role is to be the platform where they come together to learn from us, from each other and from seasoned experts in their specific field of work. Through this lens, the business model opens up a lot of possibilities for new products and services. It also makes our core offering that much stronger and fosters loyalty among our long-standing members.
“The Most Powerful Women in Banking” is one of VantageScore’s favorite events of the year. What other ways does Arizent help champion women in the industry?
We have recently launch Arizent Leaders, which is a program born out of The Most Powerful Women in Banking. It started as an executive peer network aimed at making progress toward gender parity in the workplace. We have many of the top banking institutions in the world involved as advisors and members. It has since evolved into a thought leadership platform that resembles a Netflix-style channel inside of our flagship brands like American Banker, The Bond Buyer, National Mortgage News and PaymentsSource. Our hope is to inspire both women and men to grab hold of our resources and make tangible outcomes towards diversity, as well as other transformational challenges in their businesses.