An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Diversity promotes corporate innovation, which can lead to new revenues. As just one high profile example, a Disney park engaged in brainstorming sessions with other Disney parks and divisions, and were able to shorten the timeline on idea execution from 40 to 6 weeks.

As a part of our series about “How Diversity Can Increase a Company’s Bottom Line”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Becky Sarwate.

Becky Sarwate is a PR and communications leader who brings 20 years of demonstrated success in reputation management and branding growth to her role as Head of Communications for CEX.IO. She previously held high-visibility positions in the traditional finance and cybersecurity spaces with companies such as HUB International, TransUnion and Tanium. A multiple award-winning journalist, Sarwate serves as CEX.IO’s overall company spokesperson.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into the main part of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you share a bit of your “backstory” with us?

I’m a bit of a professional “late bloomer.” Though I always loved writing and knew I had a talent and passion for communications, I originally explored music and dance as creative outlets. Eventually realizing I possessed neither the talent nor the thick skin for performance, while I thrived pretty well in front of a keyboard, I pursued an advanced degree in English Literature. Back in 2007 when I concluded my studies, I suspected this deliberate course of action could prove to be a corporate communications career game changer, no matter how unorthodox. And it certainly was — in all the right ways.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? Can you tell us the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

I’ve spent a number of years in the crisis communications space. One of the longest-running and most complex challenges of my career was when I worked at TransUnion in 2017, and the infamous Equifax breach became household conversation in the U.S. Though TransUnion is an entirely separate company with different practices, I learned the hard and painful way that in a space with few competitors, public determinations of guilt by association are very real. And they take time and commitment to unwind. It taught me an important lesson about brands being a living thing, and that the need to establish and communicate competitive differentiation is continuous work.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you tell us a story about how that was relevant in your own life?

“I don’t want to make somebody else. I want to make myself.”

  • Sula, Toni Morrison

In one of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s seminal novels, this quote is often misperceived as a rejection of motherhood. I never saw it that way at all. I viewed the words rather as a call to action for capable, successful women. I want to make a positive difference in every way, but that can only be accomplished through continuous work on myself as a human, a professional and a citizen of the world.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

There are more people who deserve gratitude than I can possibly name in one brief space. However one of my most important career mentors has been Ilyce Glink, a well-known real estate and personal finance expert. I worked for her about a decade ago producing content for her wide variety of traditional and digital media platforms, and we’ve remained friends. She’s good at everything she does professionally, is a terrific wife and mother, a caring mentor and is never afraid to try and learn something new. She is present in all areas of her life and makes it look effortless. I have tried to carry that model with me through my own life.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

CEX.IO is a company built on the notion of providing crypto ecosystem accessibility, and opening the benefits up to as many people as desire to enter the space. You won’t find overcomplexity and exclusivity here. We’re comprised of a geographically diverse team that is constantly working to build new services and improve upon existing ones for our customer base. We uphold the greatest regulatory and financial industry standards, because we believe that security and simplicity are the keys to global adoption .

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

The company recently launched our new CEX.IO University, which is a one stop shop for all things crypto education. We developed this platform with the goal of providing the necessary knowledge and tools to novices within the crypto space, which can only empower them and further the goal of adoption.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I like to think so. I am a rabid Cubs fan with a satisfying communications career that earns me a living. So in 2019, a writing partner and I published Cubsessions: Famous Fans of Chicago’s North Side Baseball Team. I was able to interview entertainment industry luminaries like Bob Newhart, Joe Mantegna and Nick Offerman, sharing their long-suffering stories as fans of the “Loveable Losers” turned 2016 World Series Champs. My partner and I donated all of our proceeds to relevant non-profits like the Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities. It was an opportunity to live a dream while using it as an opportunity to give back.

Ok. Thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main part of our interview. This may be obvious to you, but it is not intuitive to many people. Can you articulate to our readers five ways that increased diversity can help a company’s bottom line.

  1. Sometimes employers need a negative motivator, so here’s a good one: the failure to diversify your teams will cost your business money — and a lot of it. Upwards of a $1 trillion is lost by companies each year due to attrition and voluntary turnover. Many of these job hoppers are from underrepresented groups that simply do not feel included in the business. Look no further than the biggest tech giants for recent cautionary tales.
  2. At the same time, hiring practices that meaningfully promote diversity can help a business actually make more money. Companies that place more women in the C-suite for example, enjoy an average 10% revenue bump.
  3. Diversity promotes corporate innovation, which can lead to new revenues. As just one high profile example, a Disney park engaged in brainstorming sessions with other Disney parks and divisions, and were able to shorten the timeline on idea execution from 40 to 6 weeks.
  4. It may seem counterintuitive as hiring is regarded as an internal practice, but diversity in recruitment, job offer extension and training can be very good for your external brand health. Brands with high diversity scores show an 83% higher consumer preference.
  5. At the same time, businesses known to show an aversion to self-examination and greater efforts at inclusion, are a common source of consumer frustration.

What advice would you give to other business leaders to help their employees to thrive?

To be blunt: when hiring and building teams, look past your own face for quality talent and candidates. What I mean by that is, and this is especially prevalent in the crypto industry, confirmation bias can be real and stubbornly pervasive. As of the time of this interview, I’m disappointed to report that women represent only 4–6% of the crypto and blockchain work force. Given that we are more than 50% of the global population, with careers to build and money to invest, this is an embarrassing imbalance that must be conscientiously rectified. If DeFi as a whole wants to change its personal and private reputation as an exclusive male club, it starts by ensuring that there are female perspectives and voices in the metaphorical corporate boardroom. The fact is that female professionals cannot thrive where they are not present.

What advice would you give to other business leaders about how to manage a large team?

As a leader, you simply cannot be everywhere at once. So I believe in the “three Ts,” in this order: train, trust and temperature check. Provide your teams with the tools and resources they need to succeed. Have confidence that they are talented adults that you hired for good reason. Then put it on yourself to regularly connect with your team members, and keep each other honest as business needs and priorities evolve and skills need to pivot.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

Martha Stewart, and not because I have any talent or passion for domestic lifestyle subject matter expertise. She is simply one hell of a tough and admirable lady. Started her career as a model, was a single mother, built a business empire, went to prison and lost, then built it again. Living proof that there can indeed be second acts for people whose talent and work ethic will not be denied.

Thank you for these excellent insights. We wish you continued success in your great work.

Becky Sarwate On Why Diversity Is Good For Business was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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