An Interview with
Co-Founder and COO
For 20+ years, Capture has helped more than 12 million families in the USA modernise and unlock old media formats so that nostalgic memories can be digitally preserved. With patented technology and equipment, Capture is also the only media transfer service at scale that saves memories to Google Photos as a preferred partnership.
We’re excited to open the Capture HK Customer Experience Centre as part of an international roadmap to bring our services to more markets, mainly video and photo, and other media to follow. With an innovation lab approach and “start-up” mentality, we are on a journey to help “Capture” the millions of pieces of accumulated media of adventurous, early-adopter, tech-savvy Hong Kong consumers of the past 30+ years.
10 March 2022
Tell us about your background, and what are you most passionate about?
Like James Bond's martini, I'm well mixed and shaken through being born in Australia, educated in Hong Kong, working mainly in Europe and Asia, travelling for the better part of 20 years globally. Traditionally my work has been around working from "first principles" in the fields of product, quality, sourcing, sustainability, supply chain, loyalty, branding, transformation and business growth, and more recently also applying such work to supporting an NGO the Children's Cancer Foundation. Helping others to fuel success is the root of my passion, where I see some small changes can be a force multiplier in achieving great outcomes, although it's much harder to apply that to the family and two lovey daugthers who grow up fast!
Describe a time you had to make a tough decision (e.g. budget cuts, organizational restructuring, market withdrawal, etc.). What did you do and what was the result?
It has never been a tougher period of time for many in recent years, but i experienced a change of job, company bankrupcy, and the pandemic at the same time, resulting in some serious decision making in very short time frames. To have the privilage of rebuilding the company, when more than a thousand people lost their jobs globally, was very stressful but I managed to get through it with several steps in mind; 1) use the Eisenhower matrix - develop a keen sense of what is Urgent, Important, or not, and clearly take action or delegate or park tasks and projects; 2) Overcommunicate and regain trust through transparency snd shared burdens or collaborative tasks, where as a leader in such difficult circumstances requires more "hands on" work and developing shared understanding; and lastly 3) Listen, to collegues, partners, vendors/suppliers - without feedback and exploring what is impactful, it is hard to respond to the situation appropriately and by only reacting, with normal habits or routines, it invariably will show your stakeholders that you are withdrawing into your shell and are not engaging with them at the right wavelength. By frequently adapting and adjusting with these three approaches we were able to stabilise the business and move in the right direction, and eventually do things differently and still achieve the needed results.
How would others define your communication style? Do you prefer to be close to your employees or maintain a healthy distance, and why?
Others would most likely decribe my communication as direct but also blended with some strategic acumen and lateral thinking. With different colleagues I would tend to use different approaches as some respond better to tactical discussion, rather than strategic discussion, or in other words some value suggestions for action compared to encouragement in exploring different solutions and possibilities. In all cases though, I value getting to know colleagues at all levels and finding something positive about others can really make the difference in engagement and knowing what working style is beneficial in different situations. Through a more servant style leadership, there is benefit in showing others you are able to support them, and in turn they are more likely to understand the direction of work and return the support multiple times over, even when you're not around.
How has the industry been changing in recent years? What do you think are the biggest challenges your industry will face in the next 5 years?
I've recently blended my experience from corporate and multinational, into a Hong Kong startup situation, to service a very challenging local market, and I can see that on all levels many industries have been transformed or disrupted. However, the basis of good business is always a good purpose, and so our business is in the area of helping people preserve memories, so it's a worthy goal and still aligns with my passion. The next changes that come will be the pace of change itself, where leaders sometimes need to choose different service or software/IT pathways that may sometimes feel like "bets" in investment as they are not all mature choices (crypto, NFT, Metaverse to name a few). However, understanding your core business and product, and what evolutionary changes can support it may be a worthy target, to follow some of the hype and trends, but not "throw the baby out with the bathwater" - don't abandon your core values or product too quickly. Feature "creep" or adding too many bells and whistles is also an oft mentioned theme when growing a business, so refocussing regularly is a useful exercise.
What personality traits make a good leader?
With changing times, it's hard to define what "best" looks like or even what "good" appears to be. However, leadership should still have some mutual meaning to the organisation and my belief is that the continual learning by leaders is what makes them stand out. In not "managing" too closely, and being able continually respond to the various daily, weekly, or longer term challenges in a relatively consistent and persistent manner, leaders have to recognise they'll make mistakes, own up to them and move on, and the vulnerable leader feels the most authentic in this age of transformation, whilst navigating all the new information that is available to the leaders.
What does the future hold for your company?
We're just getting started in Hong Kong, with the advantage of learing from great leadership and history business in the USA. We are looking to introduce more innovation, better engagement with consumers and develop a scalable model or platform, so that we can also move into markets beyond Hong Kong as a next step. With the partnership with Google Photos, we are able to bring a lot of technical expertise to offer a service that can really help the customer easily preserve their old memories, and subsequently organise them with their new and current ones, or curate and create new content as well.