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LEADERS SURVEY: Find people who value your superpowers says Xero’s CEO Sukhinder Singh Cassidy

Adrian Rauso
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Sukhinder Singh Cassidy is the CEO of Xero.
Sukhinder Singh Cassidy is the CEO of Xero. Credit: Xero

A willingness to do hard work and lucking out on managers who valued her “superpowers” got Sukhinder Singh Cassidy to where she is, the Xero boss says.

“Throughout my career, I have learned how much power there is in ‘going where your strengths are valued and your values are shared’,” the Xero chief executive told The Nightly for its exclusive Leaders Survey.

“These are two principles that have been defining factors in the places where I’ve been able to thrive professionally and grow my own leadership impact.

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“I’ve been lucky enough to find hiring managers who valued my ‘superpowers’ and allowed me ‘to run’ and exercise them to help create more impact,” she said.

Xero provides cloud-based accounting software for small businesses and has been transformed from a little operation in the New Zealand city of Wellington into a $20 billion goliath on the Australian Securities Exchange with a product presence in over 180 countries.

Ms Singh Cassidy was born in the African country Tanzania and has led Xero since early 2023 from the Silicon Valley in San Francisco.

She’s served as a president at Google and Stubhub, and held key roles at the likes of Amazon and Ericsson, but credits her time as an investment banking analyst at Merrill Lynch as the period when she learnt her greatest piece of advice.

“Put your head down and work hard, harder than anyone else. I got this advice very early in my career from my boss, Henry Michaels, at Merrill Lynch,” Ms Singh Cassidy said.

“There is no substitute for being willing to do hard work, and saying yes to tasks that others say no to, in order to learn and grow at a faster rate.”

Like many tech leaders Ms Singh Cassidy is excited about the potential artificial intelligence and generative AI — which includes ChatGPT — possesses, but she has a clear line of sight into how the technology can tangibly benefit Xero and its customers.

“We believe that the conversational interface large language models provide can help us reimagine how accounting works and improve the lives of small businesses,” she said.

“Technology has changed the lives of those working in small businesses and for accountants and bookkeepers dramatically — first with cloud accounting, then automation, and now through GenAI.”

Ms Singh Cassidy says she had been lucky enough to have managers who allowed her to run and exercise her “superpowers”.
Ms Singh Cassidy says she had been lucky enough to have managers who allowed her to run and exercise her “superpowers”. Credit: Xero

She believes AI technology has the capability to help customers by introducing conversational interfaces on the systems where customers need support, automating and streamlining important but repetitive and time-consuming accounting tasks, and delivering the right insights at the right time.

With a large focus on Australian small businesses Ms Singh Cassidy also knows the challenges facing the estimated 2.5 million small-to-medium-sized enterprises across the nation.

“Continuing to support small businesses by shopping local and paying invoices as soon as possible is particularly critical at the moment, as they juggle the impact of slowing economic growth and still higher than normal inflation,” she said.

“Longer term, small business owners will need help to advance their digital journey to enable greater innovation, lift productivity and nurture the very important economic and social role our small businesses play.

“Delays in receiving payments can have a significant impact on small businesses ability to pay their staff, themselves and support their families, which is why it’s so important for businesses and customers to ensure they’re paying small businesses on time.”

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