We got to interview Marcus Swift, an inspirational leader and a highly skilled manager. He is the CEO and General Manager of the American Embassy Baghdad Employee Association (A.E.B.E.A).
He has more than 20 years of international experience in the field. To know more about Marcus, we began our interview conversation. So let’s see how it goes.
The Ideas Behind The Association
We asked Marcus, “What’s the idea behind A.E.B.E.A?”
“We are an Employee Association that provides morale, welfare, and recreation services to thousands of employees from more than 50 countries. In addition, we want to be the go-to organization for everything our customers need to feel less isolated so far from their homes.
We pride ourselves on our availability, flexibility, and reliability and always try to come up with a solution for unsolvable problems. We are a service-driven organization and aim to provide the best we can across all our business lines. Further, we provide events, activities, services, and products that our customers are accustomed to from their home countries, and we always strive to make them smile.
We are a business in the traditional sense. However, all profit made past operational costs is re-invested in the Association to support new activities and projects to benefit our customer base.” says Marcus Swift.
The Beginning of The Professional Journey And Advice Behind It
We wanted to know how Marcus began his journey. That’s why we asked him to tell us something about it. To reply to that, Marcus Swift said:
“As with many people, I have not taken a traditional path to get to where I am today. My career journey began with the Merchant Navy when I was 18, which led me into the overseas contracting world when I was 22. I have been working within this realm ever since, and it is proven to be an exciting and fulfilling journey that I would highly recommend to anyone. I’ve spent 25 years working within the US government contracting for the Department of Defense and now with the State Department.”
We also asked what advice he wanted to give to beginners.
He further continued, “For people just starting out, you may not yet know precisely what you are doing, so I would say that a positive attitude is paramount. Work hard, show enthusiasm, and ask questions. Understand that you can learn from anyone within your organization and learn from your mistakes.
Every experience builds your skills and expertise, and you never know how you may be able to apply that experience in the future. Volunteer for everything! You want to be the person that is looked upon as the one who will get it done. Remember being early is being on time. Start your work life by always being where you need to be 5 to 10 minutes earlier than requested. It will be recognized and appreciated by your leadership.”
Attaining Goals And Being Client-centric
“Our goal is to provide the widest possible range of goods and services that we can to all our customers throughout all locations. We continually work to improve our level of service and our range of services. We are always looking at ways to introduce new business lines to meet this goal.
Most importantly, to provide the best value for money, we continually look at how we can keep the costs down and services high. But, it’s not all about the profit. We work to create strong business relationships with local and international businesses. We also ensure that we operate fully transparently across all business areas,” said Marcus when we asked him about his company’s goals.
Importance Of Team’s Energy And Enthusiasm
When we asked Marcus Swift what’s most crucial for a team’s success according to him, he replied, “A team’s success requires every team member to perform their best, since it is true that you are only as strong as your weakest link. To make the team successful, every team member needs to understand how important their role is to the company, that they are part of the company, and that they truly are valued. All opinions and suggestions should be considered.
You never know from where innovation will come. Therefore, all jobs and roles within the company are relevant. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t have somebody doing it. Also, a team’s success starts with strong leadership that promotes and teaches the values and mission of the organization by leading by example and ensuring everyone understands the goal and is working towards it.”
How important are employees’ energy levels to the success of Your Company?
For this question, Marcus said, “The energy and enthusiasm of my employees are critical to the success of our company. We provide our customers with a diverse set of services that require a great deal of work to maintain, and it cannot be done without an enthusiastic and energetic team. To keep the energy level up, this needs to be driven from the top down and demonstrated by all members of the organization to show this is the way we operate, this is how we are going to be successful, and we need all of you to do this together.”
When discussing a team, we believe a leader should keep motivating them. So when we asked Marcus how he motivated their client to go an extra mile, he said:
“I make sure to emphasize their ownership in the mission’s overall success. We show each team member that their role is vital to the organization and that we cannot do it without them. As a result, all employees understand they are needed and feel pride, which builds ownership of all they do.
By ensuring they understand our end goals and see the results of their efforts, they know they are part of the success. Always thank your employees publicly and do things for them, so they see that you care. As a leader, if you show true investment in your staff, they will show motivation and enthusiasm to their role and the organization.”
Moving Through The Challenges And Taking Technology-driven Steps
Every company goes through some sort of challenge. So we asked Marcus how he overcame challenges along with his company. He said, “All companies face challenges, none more so than over the last couple of years. Due to the nature of our environment, we must always be ready for the unforeseen.”
He further continued, “Through good communication, we keep our staff informed of any developments or potential challenges. This keeps the staff positive and motivated, even during a pandemic or local civil unrest. We have found that being positive from the top down and encouraging our staff to look at overcoming obstacles as a challenge to their abilities enables all of us to weather the most difficult circumstances, and continue to provide excellent services to our customers.”
When we asked Marcus about his views on technology for businesses, and if it has helped his company, he said:
“Technology has revolutionized business over the last 20 years, especially with the rise of the smartphone and the accessibility of computers in the home and the workplace coupled with the ease of use of software now.
Technology enables businesses to operate in ways, and employees can work now from anywhere. We have embraced telework and the cloud to enable our employees to be productive, even when they are away from work, even thousands of miles away.”
Adapting To Digitalization And Using Innovative Ideas
“We have fully embraced technology and the digital workplace to try and become a paperless office. We have moved all of our customer advertising and communication to electronic formats and have incorporated multimedia as much as possible. Keeping our important information offsite and in secure digital storage ensures we never lose critical data, and we never have to worry about time lost to duplicate work to replace lost information.” says Marcus Swift, the CEO of A.E.B.E.A, when we asked if they adapt to digitalization.
Do you use innovative ideas to be unique?
“Innovation is the only way to succeed and remain relevant. Due to the nature of our operating environment, most of the issues we face require an innovative idea to resolve, which goes back to being adaptable, flexible, and having an open mind within all areas of your business.
How do I fix this problem? How do I make it work? And How do I make sure we remain financially viable while doing so and while still meeting the customers’ requirements? We listen to all suggestions, and often as not, someone will suggest something that pans out perfectly to fit the need.” says Marcus Swift.
Services of A.E.B.E.A And The Upcoming Advancements
We asked Marcus about their services and even upcoming plans. He replied, “We provide Communication services, Food and beverage services, Retail Services, Corporate logo items and clothing, Special events, and bespoke services as our customers require. All these services are provided up to or better than recognized industry standards. This is achieved through continual research on how these services are delivered within our industry and in similar settings.
Furthermore, we always look at how we can continually improve and provide a better service. We are always focusing on how we can do more. A key to our success has been listening to our customers and our ability to be incredibly flexible and willing to adapt to market conditions.
The Association and our business are geared to operate this way to ensure we can work around all challenges and continue providing superior service to our customers.”
Would you like to say anything else to our viewers? We lastly asked Marcus, with which he said:
“In today’s world, we need to fully embrace all models, methods, and technologies for providing services and to stay relevant. I would say use caution though. Sometimes it’s good not to always adopt the latest technology. Make sure it is fully operational before attempting to roll it out and have a backup plan. Also be mindful of generational differences between technology usage to make sure that you can be accessible to all ages and levels of users.”
So that was our interview. It was very inspiring talking with Mr Marcus Swift, and we look forward to seeing A.E.B.E.A grow.
Connect with Marcus Swift on LinkedIn.