Darren Winterford, CEO and Founder of EdApp, has extensive experience building mobile apps and pushing the boundaries of innovation. In 2020, EdApp joined global technology company SafetyCulture on its mission to help working teams get better every day. Its mobile-first operations platform leverages the power of human observation to give workers a voice, leaders visibility and unite teams to improve.
More than 28,000 organizations use SafetyCulture’s flagship products, iAuditor and EdApp, to perform checks, train staff, report issues, automate tasks and communicate fluidly. SafetyCulture powers over 600 million checks per year, approximately 50,000 lessons per day and millions of corrective actions.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to Valiant CEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Darren Winterford: It’s great to be chatting with you. I’m Darren Winterford the Founder and CEO of EdApp, and we’re on a mission to change how the world learns at work. We built EdApp, our mobile-first training platform to be used by anyone and for small businesses it’s completely free to use. We’ve had some great success in the enterprise space working with brands like Deloitte, Coca-Cola, Audi and Mizuno to help transform the way they deliver learning to their teams.
We’re now focused on helping businesses of all sizes grow, and our free-to-use product can support growing businesses to build a modern training program without the cost. Through a partnership with UNITAR, the training arm of The United Nations, we’re also helping those who are left furthest behind rolling out a diverse range of programs across Africa and the Middle East.
Who has been the most influential person(s) in your life and how did they impact you? How did that lead to where you are today?
Darren Winterford: I am consistently inspired by Luke Anear who is the Founder of SafetyCulture. Luke has built a fantastic business that impacts the lives of millions of frontline workers every day. Like EdApp, their product iAuditor helps teams achieve amazing things, from improving workplace productivity right through to saving lives by improving working conditions.
It’s not just Luke’s leadership and business acumen that I admire, but the way he thinks about product challenges and his ability to both understand the detail and think about the big picture simultaneously. It’s quite the skill.
It was his advice and mentorship that eventually led to EdApp becoming part of the SafetyCulture family last year.
2020 was a challenging year for all of us, particularly for businesses. How did the pandemic impact your business? Please list some of the problems that you faced, and how you handled them.
Darren Winterford: From a product perspective, we were lucky to be well prepared. As a tool that helps businesses digitize their existing training experience, we were able to move quickly and win business from incumbent solutions that relied on in-person training or corporate devices to be able to run effectively.
We saw an incredible spike in the demand for mobile learning, and a solution that could help keep teams engaged and informed, even as they were away from their main place of work. We quickly grew to become a global choice for microlearning, and the market continues to expand.
What no one was prepared for was the impact on team culture and ways of working in response to teams working remotely, or in a hybrid environment when returning.
We had to find new ways of working and collaborating as a team through this time and technology was a great assistance to helping us do this. Using a combination of Google Meet Slack and EdApp, we discovered new ways of working that were more flexible and accommodating to dispersed teams. From Slack huddles to replicate the ‘working together’ experience to regular social events that included virtual wine tasting, games and even watching the Olympics together, we found new ways to work and socialize together as a team and create an inclusive environment, regardless of their working conditions.
The pandemic led to a myriad of cultural side effects, including one that was quite unexpected that is informally known as “The Great Resignation”. Did this widespread trend affect you in any way?
Darren Winterford: As a culture-first company, we really do think that ‘The Great Resignation’ is ‘Great.’ For EdApp, it means significantly more high-quality talent coming into the market from companies that aren’t treating their teams like human beings. We’ve seen an influx of talent from financial services, telecommunications, and other traditional industries that haven’t adapted well to the new ways of working.
Recently, we completed research that helped to outline the importance of culture and workplace experience. The results were staggering with workers feeling they simply aren’t heard by leaders in large organisations. More than a third of workers give up on feedback because they feel like no action will be taken.
That’s why we spend countless hours collecting, collating, and then actioning feedback we get from our teams. Not only does the team feel more valued, and that they’ve contributed more significantly to the organisation but we do much better work as a result. Listening to our team, who are closest to real customer problems, can only enhance what we produce as a business.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021. How do you feel about this trend? Explain.
Darren Winterford: I’m not shocked that this is the case. The formula is simple — work is evolving and the way we need to act as organizations needs to change to keep up with modern ways of working. This includes providing our teams with more flexibility to work when and how it suits them, paying them at a competitive rate, and most importantly, helping them to connect to the deeper purpose of the company.
We’re proud of the impact that we’ve had so far working toward our vision to democratize learning, and our teams are able to feel like they’ve contributed to a positive change in the world. Our examples of impact with The United Nations are just the beginning, we’ve partnered with hundreds of humanitarian organizations in just the last 12 months including Youth Hub Africa, Esperanza, and Asia Pacific Forum.
Companies need to help their teams connect with their purpose to create deeper engagement. As well as treating their employees with respect, paying them fairly and ensuring that they feel listened to.
According to a Nature Human behavior study, In 2020, 80% of US workers reported feeling that they have too many things to do and not enough time to do them – a phenomenon known as “time poverty”. What is your take on the work-life balance? Explain.
Darren Winterford: I’m lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of Sydney on the Northern Beaches. For me, a huge part of balance is tied to being able to take the time when I need to get out there and enjoy it. Whether it’s going for a swim at lunch or a jog in the afternoon, I always make sure I prioritise this.
At EdApp, a huge part of work-life balance is also about loving being at work. It’s not rare to see a team at a coffee shop having a general catch-up, spending time in the office into the evening socialising, or even going on a trip together for a run or a triathlon.
I’m biased of course, but most of the time, work doesn’t feel like work at EdApp, and that really does help to promote the balance.
A more recent survey by Joblist asked about 3,000 respondents if they’re actively thinking about leaving their job. That survey found that 73% of 2,099 respondents who answered this question on their employment plans are considering quitting. How are you preparing for the future to counter this potentially persistent problem?
Darren Winterford: Just like building EdApp, we know that the job will never be 100% complete. It’s a continuous process of listening to customers, creating new and innovative solutions, and then rolling it out and measuring the impact.
We’re doing exactly the same thing for workplace experience, in this case, we treat the members of the team as our customers. The first step is always to listen, and then to evolve the workplace experience as a result. We’re currently focused on creating a better hybrid working environment to help create amazing experiences regardless of location preference. As well as building our next generation of leaders with a comprehensive development program focused on helping them serve our teams.
We’re proud to continue iterating this way and to adapt the way we operate to suit the changing nature of work.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Darren Winterford for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Darren Winterford or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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