Chat with the CEO

Chat with the CEO | Hadleigh Ford of SwipedOn
13 March 2020
Chat with the CEO | Hadleigh Ford of SwipedOn

SwipedOn Founder and CEO, Hadleigh Ford was working as a super-yacht captain in Europe when he had the idea that would change the course of his life.

The scrappy paper visitor books used to sign guests on to the yachts seemed horribly out of place on the luxury vessels, which often cost tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to build. Hadleigh began dreaming up an elegant, digital visitor sign-in system. By 2013, SwipedOn was built and available on the App Store.

Seven years later, SwipedOn is a global success. The software system has revolutionised the front-desk experience and has been used to welcome 30 million people to 5,300 companies all over the globe. In 2019, G2 named them one of the top software companies in Australia and New Zealand.

Hadleigh now steers the ship of this expanding global company from a water-front office in Tauranga, New Zealand.

Interested in working for this popular company in New Zealand's fastest growing city?

Let's have a chat with the CEO.

Hadleigh, first things first. Your coffee order?

As millennial as it sounds, a coconut flat white would be my choice nowadays! 

In a nutshell, how would you describe what SwipedOn does?

We started out by replacing the world's paper based visitor books with an elegant digital visitor management system. 

From visitor sign-in, we’ve now progressed to being a digital hub for all front office operations in every industry you can think of. You'll find us in thousands of locations - from everyday businesses through to the largest corporations in the world. 

SwipedOn replaces out-of-date systems that are ususally inefficient, insecure and in many cases, non-compliant. 

Businesses can now manage visitors, employees, deliveries and even provision catering from the system.

When you look to the future for SwipedOn what do you see?

I can see us expanding to solve more problems in day-to-day office management.  Our success has been built on the way we have solved the sign-in part of the visitor journey. But what about parking, meeting rooms and the whole journey the visitor goes through? We have a lot of scope to build on the value we have already created.   

What tech talent will you need to fulfil this potential?    

We’ve built up our team numbers pretty aggressively in the last little while and our growth shows no signs of slowing down. We’re always open to speaking to talented individuals in the area. Even if we don’t have a vacancy at the time, we like to play the long game with relationships, especially in what can be a pretty small tech community. We upgraded to a waterfront office a year ago to accomodate our growth. We have spare room here right now but I suspect that won’t be the case for long!

Photo credit: Josh Lowcher

What is the talent situation locally for SwipedOn?  

To be honest, we’d had little difficulty in finding the right people at the right time. I'm proud to say we have a good reputation and people are keen to work here. We’re building a unique global product,with a great company culture and we're based in one of the best parts of the world. I’m biased, but who wouldn’t want to work here?! 

What are some talent gaps you may want to fill over the coming years?  

Our business has an obvious technical bent. In the coming years we are likley to be interested in hiring developers and possibly a full stack developer and UX researcher.

But we also have a growing sales team, marketers and other support functions. We hire for all of these on an as-required basis. 

We're interestd in hiring experienced technology professionals and managers. We also accept graduates and interns and bring in between two to four of these each year. We like to help nurture the region's technical capability and are certainly willing to do our bit in growing it. 

How do you feel about hiring returning Kiwi expats?  

Having been an expat working abroad myself, I can certainly appreciate the fresh perspective and ideas that returning expats bring to the table. I spent a large part of my career working globally at sea and a number of years ashore in the UAE, Italy and Germany.

I find expats bring a unique approach, having valuable perspectives on the way that different cultures approach business. Their input provides invaluable insight within a truly global business.  

What are your thoughts on hiring immigrants?

We’re certainly open to hiring candidates that have legal status to work within New Zealand.  Because we have been able to source our staffing needs locally, to date, we have not employed candidates that are based overseas - except for our employees in our overseas offices. 

What would you say to tech professionals who are considering moving to Tauranga?

I wouldn’t hesitate to take the leap. A large proportion of our workforce have moved here from elsewhere. I can honestly say, hand on heart that nobody in our environment regrets it. Tauranga has a burgeoning tech industry and I can only see that growing at a rapid pace. There are exceptional opportunities here for your career and a lifestyle that is hard to beat.

How would you describe your company culture at SwipedOn?  

I love the way our company culture is developing.  We’re carving out a real niche with what we do and the team realise this. It’s a special time in our growth story.  I love seeing new team members come onboard and add their unique contribution to the culture. I no longer feel I need to lead this and the company has a life of its own. 

From the inception of SwipedOn, I’ve always been about giving back to the community and environment. At present, we plant a new native tree for every customer and have thousands of trees planted throughout New Zealand. 

We also support charities and NFP organisations - by offering our services at discounted rates. We’re proud to support Ronald McDonald House globally, Children's Hospital in Australia, UK Search and Rescue organisations and many other throughout the world. That’s certainly something that gets you up and going in the morning! 

What is your favourite part of your work day?

Funnily enough, it’s waking up and seeing all of the new customers we’ve had sign up. We operate a truly global business with most of our customers using the system while we’re sleeping. Not an easy feat to grow and manage - but we do! 

Many people Tauranga are seeking a better work/life balance.  What is the culture like at SwipedOn like around this?

As with many businesses in Tauranga, we do have work/life balance and it’s certainly something we relish. There is no good reason for any of our staff to miss important moments in their families' lives.  Life is too short and we’re very clear on that. 

In saying this, it’s not all cruisy and late starts when the surf is good! We’re operating globally and do need to move at a fast pace. We hunker down when required. I’m proud of what the team has achieved through perseverance and hard work in the last few years. 

What surprises you about Tauranga?

The city has experienced significant growth. The most surprising thing is the willingness for the wider community to accept and embrace new faces. I think it comes from the fact that a good number of people have moved here from outside of the area. Established ‘cliques’ are not really a thing. I’ve only ever felt welcomed in both my professional and personal life. 

What do you personally love about living and working in Tauranga?

I like the relaxed vibe of the central city, as it’s certainly not all suits and briefcases. Yes, we work hard and get things done - but that needn't change the way we dress or interact with each other. Indeed, it’s not uncommon for half the staff to end up jumping off the waterfront bombing platform on a hot day!

Where do you live?  What do you do to relax and have fun?

We live in Matua. It’s a great community and only a short commute to our offices in town. Indeed, commuting by bicycle takes only slightly longer than by vehicle. It's something I must do more often! We love to explore the local area with great waterfront walks in and around Matua. Of course we frequently trip up or around Mt Maunganui, and explore local bush walks, waterfalls and watering holes. 


Ready for a Change?

SwipedOn is a key company in Tauranga's growing tech sector. LEARN MORE

Thinking of moving to Tauranga someday? 

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3. Read Q&A interviews with recent Tauranga arrivals on our Kiwi expatimmigrant and local Kiwis blogs.


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About Kathryn

About Kathryn


Kathryn Overall is the friendly voice behind the 'Wish You Were Working Here' stories and Facebook posts.  Each month she chats with returned Kiwi expats,  Auckland imports and New Zealand immigrants who have moved to Tauranga, collecting their stories and advice to share with you. 

CLICK HERE to read her own story of reluctant homecoming!


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