Balancing Business, Motherhood, and Politics with Devina Paul

Sean O’Neill sits down with Devina Paul to discuss her fascinating journey from the finance sector into the realm of politics, aiming to drive positive change.

Devina recounts her transition from a physics student to a significant player in the finance industry, particularly in the digital assets space with Zumo, and her current political aspirations.

Key highlights of the interview include Devina’s switch from science to finance, emphasising education and mentorship; the role of values-driven businesses in her career; her insights into the cryptocurrency world through Zumo; reasons for entering politics and her plans to leverage her business expertise for social improvement; challenges faced along her journey, highlighting the importance of resilience and support networks; and her vision for the future in finance, digital assets, and her commitment to contributing to society through political involvement.

Transcript

Devina Paul: That was a real kind of show stopper for me. I was like, wow, okay, you think I can do this? Almost, I didn’t even think about that.

Sean O’Neill: Probably my greatest strengths as I went through my business career is knowing what I shouldn’t be doing.

Devina Paul: Talk to people and ask them, you know, what are the three things that they would really depend on you for? What do they see as your core skills, your core attributes equally? Ask them what they wouldn’t depend on you for.

Sean O’Neill: Devina Paul, welcome!

Devina Paul: Lovely to be here, Sean!

Sean O’Neill: Now, you’re currently the CFO of Zumo money, but before we get into that, I’d like to know where it all started.

Devina Paul: Gosh, that’s a big question, right? So if I go back to university, I did a physics degree. I always wanted to be in the music industry. I wanted to be a sound engineer. And I got some work experience at the BBC and everybody there did physics degrees. So I said, that’s what I’m going to do. And I got to university and realized maybe I’m not that good at physics, but I did the degree. I did okay. But actually, I decided to take a year out before I did a master’s in medical physics.

And I started working at an ad agency, which was the best ad agency at the time. I knew nothing about business, so my parents are not from the business world. My mum was a nurse from the age of 19 until she retired. And my dad worked for the GLC as an engineer. So I have no business knowledge, but I found I really loved business. Being an accountant, the math side was easy and I really loved the industry. Advertising, especially then, was fun, lots of good times.

 So, yeah, I kind of stuck at it. I did evening school, weekend school, so learned my craft in industry and realized I wanted to be — I wanted to work with founders to build their businesses, scale them, exit. I really love the exit process, that whole mergers and acquisitions process.

Sean O’Neill: So being in accounts, are you naturally good with maths or you enjoyed the process of the numbers?

Devina Paul: I think I have an aptitude for maths. So it’s almost like that was the easy bit. I don’t necessarily. Doing the accounting is not something that I would say, I prefer the more strategic side of what I’m doing. The other stuff I can do with my eyes shut, that’s really easy. But really it’s using that information, using that data to understand how you can grow a business, how you can increase your margins, where you should be expanding into. Those are the things that I find more exciting. I mean, I can build financial models with my eyes shut. And I still do a lot of that, but really it’s the strategic place that I enjoy.

Sean O’Neill: So finance, getting into finance helped you then get into business, which then helped you…

Devina Paul: Because I had core skills that actually a lot of business people who are very creative and brilliant may not necessarily like to do. The finance side, that’s not their natural skill set. It’s not something that they, it’s not the sexy side of business, but it’s one of the most important sides of business. So what I bring is to entrepreneurs and founders is you have an idea, I can help you make that reality by putting in those strong foundations into your business that you will need to be able to scale and grow.

Sean O’Neill: So a business person like me, I’m more of a let’s get on with it and figure it out along the way, which I would say I definitely don’t recommend to the masses. With some of the pain points along the way, I’ve kind of done it a difficult way, but trying to explain strategy to a young Sean O’Neill, who’s more like a. I’m more a connector, less analytic, do understand numbers and margins in my own head, but maybe unable to follow the graph or the strategy you put in place. Have you met many along the way or people like me? How would you deal with someone like me? Just wants to get on with it and maybe feels like they haven’t got time to put the foundations in place.

Devina Paul: I mean, that’s most entrepreneurs, right? And, you know, I see it particularly in financial services, which is the industry I work in now. A lot of fintech founders are very entrepreneurial and really just, you know, they just want to go for their North Star. But you have annoying things like regulation and compliance that you kind of have to factor in when you’re growing those types of businesses. So I don’t think it’s very uncommon.

I guess the idea of someone like me is I bridge that gap and help you manage expectations so you don’t get those frustrations, for example, when you have to deal with regulators. But equally, I can’t be a blocker, you know, so it’s walking that fine line between the practicalities and the growth and the scalability and the exciting creativity. That’s what I try and bridge the gap between.

Sean O’Neill: Is there a criteria of people you choose to work with?

Devina Paul: Yes. I mean, we’ve touched on this a little bit, but values are so important and they have always been important in my career. So when you meet someone who has or a group of entrepreneurs who have the same values as you. All the businesses that I’ve built with my kind of business partner, they’ve all been values driven organisations, because we understand that that’s the X factor. And also to get your team galvanized towards a set of values all pointing to the same north star is so powerful and we understand that you can build success that way.

Sean O’Neill: So if you go back to being an accountant and then working with companies, you come in as an employee to work your way through to find your now partner or what was that journey like?

Devina Paul: So I, yeah, I started off in the most junior finance position, accounts assistant. I knew nothing about accounting. I knew, you know, I didn’t know that a profit and loss, I heard the P&L. P&L, I thought that was one word. I didn’t realize it was P&L and that stood for profit and loss, you know.

So I was starting at the basics. I was lucky that I had a boss who saw something in me. So when I went for a role within the team, he just said to me, that’s not the role you should be going for. I see you as chief financial officer one day. I see you as this person who was our chief financial officer. And that was a real kind of shape stopper for me. I was like, wow, okay, you think I can do this? Almost. I didn’t even think about that. And that just led me on the path. I took it seriously. Yeah, I’ll qualify.

Sean O’Neill: Did you, did you ever come back to him at a later date and ask what he saw on you or why he pushed you to that or what you have?

Devina Paul: No, I didn’t actually, but I have done that exercise with people who are close to me. It’s something that, I don’t know if you’ve done it, but I would highly recommend everybody does that. Talk to people and ask them, you know, what are the three things that they would really depend on you for? What do they see as your, your core skills, your core attributes equally, ask them what they wouldn’t depend on you for. And none of those things are bad things. It goes back to understanding what your own strengths are and really focusing on them and supplementing the bits that you’re weaker on with other people who are great on those things.

Sean O’Neill: I do quite a bit of that as I guess, as I’ve matured. I’m a believer in people, sometimes too much, and I love to see people advance, you know, your story. I know we spent quite a bit of time talking before the camera started rolling today, but I just, I love to hear a success story. I love to hear values of people. And ultimately, probably my agenda is I want the people that succeed and to all be around me as well.

So we can share the Christmas dinners and know that the bonuses have been paid and we can understand that we’re all going on holiday and buying our own houses because we’ve all added to the success together. So that’s what really gets — Gets me up in the morning. And I found that to find those people, I spend a lot more time now asking those questions and trying to show them the way that your boss did about, you know, where they could be. If I was to push them sort of down that line or the other side of things would be, is that trying to guide them to not go down that route?

I think we touched on this before sometimes. Probably my greatest strength as I went through my business career is knowing what I shouldn’t be doing as a business owner or especially when you’re in infancy, in business is you have to do everything.

Devina Paul: Yeah.

Sean O’Neill: But you do everything for a short space of time until you find the person that’s better than you that will take over those roles. So, yeah, I really, really have realized that the strength maybe is to mentor, coach, bring people with you and, you know, the values are the same with us. And you also do this.

Devina Paul: Yeah, it is about understanding your own strengths, being really clear about that. But I think also it’s about being really clear on your vision and your mission. That’s how you really get people to follow you. Because I think that first bit of I see you is that, well, I have this expectation, I have a high expectation that you can do this is very powerful for someone.

But I think the thing that takes them on the journey is being able to sell your vision of the end goal and getting people aligned. And, you know, that’s what we do a lot of work at Zumo in all the other businesses that I’ve worked with in getting all the team aligned with that kind of single North Star that we’re all pointing towards.

Sean O’Neill: So what’s your end goal?

Devina Paul: I mean, that changes because you’re constantly achieving.

Sean O’Neill: Right.

Devina Paul: So, you know, a great example I would use was, you know, I had this person say this to me and then I, a few years later, I realized I kind of formed the goal of I wanted to be the CFO of an independent ad agency that sold, you know, because I’d done some, some of the m and a stuff and once I’d hit that, I was left a bit kind of, oh, God, what’s next? What that taught me is always have a — Have an idea of what comes next because actually the energy that leaves you when you get there, you know, it just kind of drains from you.

Sean O’Neill: You could actually end up with. There’s been times in my life where I had my goal, achieved my goal, and soon after it, I had a sort of downward spiral in my energy and my thought process and have questioned why, what, what’s next? And probably through that process I’ve realized that the goal is ever changing. The journey is as enjoyable as the end result.

Devina Paul: Yeah.

Sean O’Neill: And as we live in a future where we’re always looking to the value that we’re going to have in the future, we see it now.

Devina Paul: Yeah.

Sean O’Neill: Is there a point where you have to realize these people that are trying to be on your path or learn from you, they just, they don’t get it.

Devina Paul: Sometimes that happens. And I think the way you see that is being really clear on the outputs that you’re expecting. Where do we want to be, you know, in quarter one, quarter two, or however you frame that kind of road mapping and if you’ve had alignment on the things you want to achieve and you’re not hitting those things with that person, there’s no hard feelings. Right? Because the journey is what it is.

Not everybody’s made for that journey. Their journey could be different. So you have to be very flexible. You can’t take things personally because it’s got nothing to do. People are just not right for certain journeys. Maybe they’ve been casted in the wrong role or it could be a huge number of things. And as you know, some people are either made for an entrepreneurial life or have the kind of have the metal for it because it can be very hard or they’re happy in a great corporate environment that really suits them. And neither of those are better than the other. There’s just different environments for different people which bring out the best in them, I think.

Sean O’Neill: And as you’ve evolved, have you actually, when you look into those stressors and where you’ve got to now, do you think you could ever prepare for the journey you’ve gone on and the difficult times? And are you even able to explain that to people? How there’s so many variations along the way.

Devina Paul: I think you have to go through it. You have to go through those tough times to be able to, you know, there’s loads of people talking about resilience, but that’s what it does. It, it builds that resilience. It gives you the methodologies to do things in, in the best way. You know, if you, for example, have to go through a redundancy process, which, you know, that happens especially more recently, the markets have been quite volatile.

We’ve seen huge exits at some of the redundancies, at some of the massive, you know, the biggest tech companies. How do you handle that in the best way? And that’s been a learning for me. You know, you handle it. The best way to handle that is to communicate. Don’t keep it as a black box that, you know, these are people’s lives, so you, you have to communicate with them every step of the way. What is happening, give them clarity.

And rather than it being announced in the press, this is happening or it happening in several stages, because something like that is so big to a business. And I know our chairman at Zumo, the best bit of advice he gave to me is it’s traumatic for the people that you’re having to let go. But don’t forget about the people who are left behind because they have experienced that trauma as well. And having been through, you know, this at various organizations and learned, seeing how it’s done well, seeing how it’s done badly, bringing all the best bits, because people are at the core of your business. If your team’s happy, they stay. It’s really difficult to find good talent.

So you want to make sure that you are keeping hold of the best people in your team as well by looking after them and not kind of saying, oh, well, you’re here, you’re still here. That’s all that matters. Actually take them on the journey with you and kind of keep. How do you keep the vision going after such a big event? That’s really important as well.

Sean O’Neill: What’s been your most difficult decision or period in your career and how did you overcome that?

Devina Paul: Gosh, that’s…. Do you know, I think where it’s been difficult is probably more where I’ve gone through difficult personal circumstances. So making sure everything is still happening, whether that’s grief or loss, equally, I think going through grief probably toughens you up a little bit or toughen up is probably the wrong word. It allows you to contextualise and understand that some things aren’t necessarily the end of the world, but you still treat them sympathetically and sensitively.

So those, I’d say, where you’re still keeping stuff going, but when you close the door at night, you know, you’re having to deal with grief and just – [Crosstalk]

Sean O’Neill: All connected.

Devina Paul: Yeah, exactly. Because I think it’s very difficult to separate the two things, especially if you bring a lot of yourself into work.

Sean O’Neill: I don’t think it should be separated. We’re not robots, human beings. We succeed because we enjoy each other’s company. We work together, we get each other. It’s just how the world works. We’re all connected through energy, or however we see it. And that’s definitely one of the strengths within my group of businesses, business partners, that if you’re personally feeling it, the business is going to feel it, and if the business is feeling it, you’re personally going to feel it, and it has to be addressed together.

Devina Paul: Yeah, it’s really difficult to cover. You can for a certain amount of time. But, I mean, I’m really lucky that my network, you know, it’s a strong friendship bond as well as, you know, doing business together. So we’re able to have those conversations, you know, nothing really is off limits.

Sean O’Neill: Can you tell us more about Zumo?

Devina Paul: Yes, sure. So I’m chief financial officer. Zumo is a digital asset wallet. So it’s in that crypto space, which is exciting for some people, makes other people nervous.

Sean O’Neill: What doesn’t.

Devina Paul: True, we have really gone from a compliance first perspective because we understand that’s what gives people the sense of security, the sense of safety in an industry that may not necessarily be perceived like that from the outside. So that’s been really important for us. You know, really great user experience, all of that kind of stuff, working with regulators, making sure we’re doing things in the right way.

And I started there in 2018. So the two founders, Nick Jones and Paul Roach, I’ve worked with him for a long time. Nick and I have been long term collaborators. We’ve had businesses together. We co-founded an investment business called Galvanized Capital in 2013 or 2014. And I was his finance director for the first business that he sold in 2012. So we’ve worked together for a long time.

So when he and Paul started Zumo, you know, there’s already a certain level of trust. I’m a known quantity and I’ve done it. I’ve built businesses with other founders, got them to exit. I understand what good looks like, and we have a great relationship, the three of us. So they came to me and said, come and work with us.

And I really enjoy when we go back to values and choosing who you work with, knowing that you are working with people who have the same values as you, you know that through the good times and the bad times, because you know, they’re not all good times when you’re setting a business up, you know that you can work through those and you’re kind of all aligned in terms of where you want to, where you want to get to. So that’s always been important.

And I think I can say honestly, where I’ve. I’ve only done it once, but where I’ve chased money and money alone, it’s not worked because I haven’t had that alignment of values. And it’s just, I realize for me it may not be the case for everybody, but for me that’s crucially important.

Sean O’Neill: When did you start understanding your values? Is it a nature nurture?

Devina Paul: Well, it’s something I’d never thought about, but the first business I worked with Nick on, I spy, we worked with a great guy called Mike Pegg and he’s all about building values driven companies. He’s about the strengths approach and he’s been a long term mentor for me since 2009. And that’s when I really started learning about how important values are, how important that alignment of values are within an organization, how it just gives you the X factor to grow and be successful. I think I would find it difficult to be in an organization that isn’t values driven now, or where I can’t be working with people who don’t share my values.

Sean O’Neill: Whether you admit it or not, or understand it or not, I think all of us are like that. Even the toughest, hardest people out there that will intuitively know that it’s the values that keep a company together, or you’d probably end up not enjoying it very much with a very short term business that won’t go to the heights it should do if you cut your values.

And before we spoke about values, the values in my company and the people I found along the way are the exact same values as what I grew up on the farm. When the day off, you couldn’t employ people, so you needed the local community and the local farmers to help people. When it was time to gather the potatoes, feed the animals, you would just knock the neighbor’s door and say, I need help for the afternoon. And was reciprocated at the right time and that’s how we survived.

Although there was very little money as businesses, when they start up, there’s not a lot of money to just go and hire the best. And you go into a deficit the minute you open a business because of all the costs. And in the old days, the door was always open, there was always food on the table, and everybody was always fed or looked after and to fight another day or to survive another day.

And I guess my values was realized when, as I get older and things didn’t always go my way, that I fell back to understanding that that’s the reason I’m able to succeed. And before we started this podcast today, that was exactly what I found was great, that you touched on the same thing.

Devina Paul: And I think you said it, didn’t you? Who are the people that you need around you to survive another day or to fight another day? Those are the people that share your values, and those are the people you want on your team to build a great business, I think?

Sean O’Neill: So crypto, for a lot of people is still a scary, unknown place to go to.

Devina Paul: I think that’s fair. I think…

Sean O’Neill: When people want to get into crypto or want to understand more, how do you approach that with them?

Devina Paul: So I think, and as a business, we really believe education is key. There has been a lot of bad press. There have been, you know, big stories of where it’s gone wrong. And I think this goes back to us as a business, being very clear on why we are doing what we’re doing. This is to bring financial inclusion to the world.

And the thing that’s often missed is it can be a force for good. It opens up financial systems to people that may not necessarily have access to them. We live in a country where actually that’s relatively easy for a lot of people, but in some places that isn’t the case. But it’s how do you keep that safe and secure and give people the comfort to feel safe using it? And so education for us is the key.

So we do a lot of work with consumers. We have a lot of resources on best practice. Equally, I would say there are a lot of things that are kind of leveled at this industry in terms of the dark web or, you know, scams that are done with traditional finance as well.

Sean O’Neill: That’s everywhere.

Devina Paul: Yeah. So it feels, sometimes it feels like it’s a. It should be brought up, but I think it probably should be, you know, it should be balanced, I think. But as an industry, we understand it’s our responsibility to make this a safe environment for anybody to participate in. And I think also as a business, what we’ve done is the other big thing with digital assets, as they’re known, is the energy consumption issue. And that’s been, you know, through our own journey on how do we meet net zero requirements. We’ve been able to build a product that will help other people address the carbon impact of their digital assets.

So that’s always been, and I think that goes back to, again, what are your values as a business? And based on our values, we’ve been able to create products that, you know, we hope will leave the world in a better place than…

Sean O’Neill: Do people come to you with the…? I guess when people are investing, a lot of what I find is FoMo. If they don’t jump in now, they might fear of missing out. So if they don’t jump in now, and I, when I hear that in the property world and I’ve got money in the bank, it’s not making me any money by this time next year, it’s devalued with inflation, and I need to do something now.

When I hear that, I think, hold on a minute. As you just touched on education of why they’re doing it, do you find there’s a lot of that with people that are willing to nearly gamble with what go on your trust or nearly go with an uneducated view because they just need to do something with it now before it’s too late?

Devina Paul: Again, I don’t think it is specific to digital assets or crypto.

Sean O’Neill: It’s everything.

Devina Paul: Yeah, it’s, you know, you see it in angel investing, which, you know, I’ve done a lot of. There is always this fear of missing out. And actually, where, again, where it works is where the businesses are aligned with your values and you can work with the founders. You understand the problem they’re trying to fix.

So education is the key. But I think, you know, we have a responsibility, and I don’t think that should be shirked, because there are a lot of vulnerable people there. And that’s the same for other industries like, you know, gambling or investment. We do have it. If you work in those industries, you do have a duty of care, I think, especially to consumers. And that’s why the regulators are so hot on this and why we took the view to work with them and make sure we’re doing everything in the right way, in a safe way, and in the compliant way to make sure consumers are safe.

Sean O’Neill: And again, that’s the second, the most important part is the safety. I remember I watched the documentary a few years ago about the Canadian crypto wallet that had half a billion pounds worth of assets, and it vanished. The guy vanished, didn’t he? And they don’t know if he, if he was murdered or vanished.

Devina Paul: I mean, there’s loads of — There were, especially in those early days where there wasn’t that kind of wrapper of regulation, where actually it was an industry that was growing so quickly that regulators just couldn’t keep up with it. And so those things did happen.

Sean O’Neill: So for people understanding where my digital money’s going and how safe is it, is that something that if they can feel working with Zumo, that that can’t happen to them?

Devina Paul: Yeah, I mean, yes, because the technology is safe and secure. And actually, a lot of the things that people don’t think about the technology itself, that it is transparent, it’s fully trackable, auditable. We have to order all the transactions that go through our wallet. We have to do checks on everybody that wants to sign up.

Sean O’Neill: Is that not what he told all his investors?

Devina Paul: We have to physically. We have to physically do those checks. You know, we’re held. We’re held to account. And again, I guess that was at a time when there were no.

Sean O’Neill: I always say, if you’re getting into the, whatever you’re getting into, understand the rules of engagement, and sometimes it’s really difficult to. And if you understand that you’ve done your best due diligence and, you know, there’s still a bit of a gamble, at least you’re aware, because there’s been times in the past I’ve understood what I thought I understood, and I didn’t understand the real rules of engagement and it didn’t work out for me. And I guess that’s part of your education process to people to spell it out as clear as possible for them.

Devina Paul: But also give them — give them the ability to think that they can participate. I think that’s really important. But with that understanding, do not use money that you are going to lose. Understand what you’re investing in, whether that’s digital assets, whether that’s in startups, whether that’s in stocks and shares. Those worlds are open to everybody. You don’t have to be from a certain social class or from a certain part of the country to be able to participate in that. But do your research, understand what you can and can’t lose.

Sean O’Neill: Understand it’s their decision. At the end of the day, they’re not being convinced. This is the thing for them. So working with you and Zumo, they’re safe, they’re educated. You believe in the future of crypto?

Devina Paul: I think of it as an asset class, yes, but also the technology.

Sean O’Neill: And where do you think it’s going in the future if you had a crystal ball in five or ten years?

Devina Paul: I think….

Sean O’Neill: By the way, nobody knows.

Devina Paul: No, nobody knows. But I think that’s really important. I don’t think the use cases have landed yet, but I think the understanding that you have this technology, which is so powerful, so open, so, you know, it’s not an either or banking or crypto, it’s an alternative. Right? The two can go hand in hand.

Sean O’Neill: You can spread your risk.

Devina Paul: Yeah.

Sean O’Neill: Or your investment.

Devina Paul: Exactly. And I think also the technology itself, one of the real world applications that it can be used for. When you look at things like government procurement and logistics, how can, you know, if you’ve got this network which is completely trackable, things like government procurement, that becomes really powerful so that, you know, could it limit fraud in those environments or things going to the wrong place overspends, things like that.

So those are the applications where I think it has the most power. And also that idea of democratizing finance in countries where it’s harder to get a bank account or, you know, you just don’t have access to a financial system, that’s where the power of it is.

Sean O’Neill: So this, I have a quite an interesting property background and maybe to try and relate to those people back home. I’ll just touch on a few things. I had extreme FoMo in 2003, 4, 5 was going, a fear of missing out. Property was just on the rise and people were becoming millionaires overnight. Freedom of finance. And I jumped in what I thought was educated. And I guess the purpose I’m going to get to here, I believe, is maybe the long game of anything we do and made a huge amount of money and it all went wrong, lost it all and more. I’m not going to all that detail now.

But the 2009, 10, 11 was horrific years for me, where everything that I couldn’t afford to lose thought it was still safe to a degree, lost it all. But I had the long term approach. And Hen’s wife said, you know, 5, 10 years from now, because normally, if you’ve got a long term approach, you’re able to get back out of the short term is a gamble for me. And I know we talked about this before.

Ultimately, that dip, whether it’s crypto property or other assets, that dip was the sweet spot. And although 9, 10, 11, 12 was horrific time for me that I would never want to repeat again, although I learned some valuable lessons because I had the long approach, the education that you talk about, you know, I felt it in my heart, then I’d read about it. I had my mentors teaching me, I had people advising me. A lot of that was words. I hadn’t felt it. And my message, and I know this will be a message to the people that you advise and help, is that no matter what happens, everything’s temporary.

Devina Paul: Yeah.

Sean O’Neill: The markets are temporary. Property’s an interesting one at the moment because there was a scramble this past few years to buy property. Now there’s a bit of uncertainty with interest rates, and it fluctuates all the time. So would you be aligned with me and thinking that whoever you’re speaking to, they have to not, not risk money that they can afford to lose, but also not jump out if it just goes wrong overnight, or not have a panic and just run for the hills or they’ll have to hold their nerve. Are you able to help people through that process?

Devina Paul: So I’d say I look at things slightly differently. What I say to people, especially if I do workshops on, you know, financial wellbeing or anything like that, is often you are putting your money into things that you can’t get out quickly. So think about what you’re doing that for. Is it to build your deposit for a mortgage? Is it for school fees for your children? Put the money in if you don’t need it out tomorrow.

And I suppose that plays into your long game idea. You know, I try not to give people financial advice. I’m certainly not qualified to do it. But in terms of guidance, often you’re putting, especially if they’re riskier places that you’re putting your money in, like angel investing. If you’re an angel investing, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to get your money out for 7 to 10 years because that’s the normal cycle from a startup to when they exit. And so from that point of view, yeah, you just have to sit tight and hold and, you know, hopefully.

Sean O’Neill: So you’re giving them the fluid approach to their investing as well. If they really need it, they can get it.

Devina Paul: Well, I wouldn’t, if you really need it, I wouldn’t put it, I’d say you wouldn’t be putting it in an investment.

Sean O’Neill: You put it into something that you.

Devina Paul: Can get it out if you need it. Yeah.

Sean O’Neill: Yeah. That’s…

Devina Paul: Yeah, yeah.

Sean O’Neill: Yeah. That’s important thing to know that another rule of the investment, if you really need it, don’t put it away for seven to ten years, please, because the goal can change in life as well as business. A lot of things can get in the way. So you’re extremely driven, successful, done a lot in your life.

Devina Paul: That’s true.

Sean O’Neill: And I believe you’re going to enter the world of politics. Hoping to.

Devina Paul: Hoping to, I suppose, where I’ve got to with my experience, what I’ve done, how can I take what I’ve done to give back, deliver impact. And so, I mean, I’m starting at ground zero. So that’s been an interesting journey. People are really receptive. I really like the idea of local politics and the impact you can make, which you see with, you know, the metro mayors and mayor of Liverpool, Steve Botherham, Andy Burnham. Often you’re able to deliver a level of impact that you maybe can’t at a parliamentary level.

So how can I use my commercial expertise, my understanding of business, the economy, creating jobs, how can I bring all of that into the world of politics? Because you get some, but there’s not loads of people with real life experience. So that’s the journey that I’m on at the moment, starting at the beginning. So I’m very much at the beginning and just seeing, seeing what direction it takes me in.

Sean O’Neill: Are you going to be able to assess the demands on you? Because I guess as people that are driven to succeed, we usually underestimate the amount of time, effort and strain. How do you, how are you going to balance that with, with business and being a mother?

Devina Paul: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s a really, really good question. Where I usually get to with things, and I’m sure you’re the same because you, you probably do lots of different things as well and probably stretch yourself. But what I find is where you are working on the things that are your passion. You make the time, you find the time. It gives you the energy to drive you forward. And so you need to do that assessment of, you know, what are you doing at the moment, what’s working and what’s not working, what’s being a drain on your energy and what is giving you energy.

My son will always be a huge priority in my life, and that will always be kind of my North Star. And to show him what I can do, what I can achieve, I think that will be the thing that will drive me forward, but also making sure that, you know, he’s at the center of everything that I do will be really important.

Sean O’Neill: Yeah. I’ve spread myself thin so many times with unknowingly what I was doing until I was in the middle of it. I think the advice that I would give anyone is that if you do spread yourself thin, it’s not just you that suffers. It’s whatever you have created or you’re involved in and the people that are involved in with what I’ve got better at, and I’m continuing to get better at, is that I’m ensuring that there’s process processes in place and people in place that if I am leaving or spending less time on something. I’ve got people there to, to look after that, that baby, that project, that business to make sure that I’m not unfairly starting something and then letting it suffer due to my drive, my selfishness, my willingness to do a new thing.

Devina Paul: I think that’s really important when you not necessarily to do with politics or that that’s just the way it has to be. You have to have the people in place that are going to drive the business forward while you go off and do other things. And we see that often in an m and a process as well. You know, the founders will be, it’s a big process to go through and that takes away the founders away from a business. So they need to have the right people in place to keep the business going, to keep winning business, to keep generating revenue, to keep everything going while they’re doing the work, to sell the business.

So I think, you know, that having that understanding I think is really important. And I think that’s why you build great teams, that why, that’s why you make sure people are working within their a strengths and the things that they’re best at because that’s how you achieve success.

Sean O’Neill: In finding a team, how do you figure out the driver for that person? Some people are driven by the values of a company. Some people are driven by what they get in their pay packet monthly. Some people are driven by having skin in the game. And how do you then find the right person for that job?

Devina Paul: I think that really always comes down to the values. People may be money motivated, it may be about the values, it may be to have skin in the game, as you’ve said, but fundamentally it will always come down to the values because that’s the team that will be with you to kind of survive the next day, fight the next day. And it will always come down to that.

I think people underestimate how important a hiring process is within an organization to really take the time to find the right people who are really aligned with your mission and who will be able to do the things that you need them to do as well and be really driven to help you succeed and to help the business succeed. I think that’s really important. It’s how I’ve always lived, you know, worked my career. It’s how can I help you succeed? What can I do to help you realize what your, your mission is? Your goal is what, you know, what your roadmap is. That that’s always been how I’ve worked. And I think if you tend to work with people like that, you will achieve success that way.

Sean O’Neill: So your roadmap of your business and getting people on board and working together is going to be the exact same for your aspirations politically to bring those values, bring those people?

Devina Paul: Absolutely. I think it is really important. There’s a lot, I think, again, coming at this world with fresh eyes that you can bring from the commercial world into that world in terms of your ways of working, how you manage people, how you manage a team and all of those kinds of things, how you focus on outputs, all of those kinds of things, I think are equally important in both worlds.

Sean O’Neill: There seems to be a period in a successful person’s life where they start to feel like it’s time to give back and it’s coming into my life and I can sense that it’s a huge part of your future. Has that been something of recent and is that something that you feel that is necessary to give you your next goal of the North Star?

Devina Paul: I think it’s always been at the back of my mind, you know, how can I give back? How can I? I know I can only give back using my expertise and my experience. So how do I do that? And that’s the working that out has been. Has been the journey or, and even, you know, moving to a whole new environment as well. We, we spoke briefly about, you know, a lot of people feel they need permission to enter new worlds. And I was really interested in reading your story and how it didn’t feel like, given your background and growing up on a farm and, you know, coming to Liverpool and building, you know, your businesses, it felt like you didn’t need that permission. You were very driven on. This is where you want to end up.

Sean O’Neill: I was just terrified. Everybody was hungry and had no money and I grew up in a house with no central heating, so I was just terrified. I needed to get out. So my driver, when I was a child, was probably a lot different than my driver now. But going back all of those experiences or how I can sit here today with you and sit here with so many amazing people, the joy is definitely in the process, not in the achievement.

Devina Paul: I think that’s — I think there’s joy in both, but….

Sean O’Neill: Always not just the achievement.

Devina Paul: Yeah, I think it’s really important to be present through the journey, not just, you know, looking at things back on a retrospective and saying, I’ve achieved that. Find the joy in the journey, find the satisfaction. It will drive you more. I think you spoke about where do you find energy and all of that kind of stuff.

Sean O’Neill: When we talk about success, I’m working on a pie chart, for want of a better word, and I’m dividing it in to see what actually success looked like for me two decades ago, a decade ago, five years ago, and now. And I’m trying to divide it up, and I do find that it’s all of the same things. It’s just the percentage of where my energy goes is changing.

And if I was to, of what I do quite a bit is trying to mentor, guide, educate people on what success looks like. We are all built up of the same needs. It’s just maybe the formula is slightly different. I’m looking forward to releasing that pie chart on how I’ve evolved, and that’s where the giving back has come into it now where you feel that it’s like the human in you.

Devina Paul: Yeah.

Sean O’Neill: Realizes that you can’t — Maybe not that people like us are someone that will continue to take, but I do feel when I was younger, it was definitely less altruistic and more commercial in my journey. There was less of a emotional capability in my growth and more of a more hardlined. Take the emotion out. This is the facts and figures. You wake up this, you do this, you create your results. I don’t need to know your problems. Leave your problems at home. Where now I’m like, how are you today? I have a great — I have loads of great conversations in the office where I try and get out what bothering people.

And then I say, well, if you tell me your biggest problem this week, I’ll tell you mine or tell me your big. Let’s see, can we beat each other and see who’s got the worst? And you find out time and time again that it’s relief because I say how I’ve messed up, or this isn’t going right this week, or multiple things have gone on in my week, but because I’m maybe smiling or because it’s assumed that I’ve got success and I’ve got a nice car or a nice house, or I can go on nice holidays, it’s unknown to those people coming through. So I try and really now show that that’s okay. Yeah, this all went wrong. That’s went wrong. I lost on this. I got lied to on this. It just didn’t work out for me. But that’s part of the journey. It’s part of the pie chart, part of the journey.

Devina Paul: And that’s how you learn. And you, you know, the first part of your, your career was the learning piece, and now you are okay, where am I doing satisfying work? That’s where I want to focus my energy. And I think that’s. That’s what I think everybody needs to get to in their career is. Is where am I doing satisfying work? And that’s kind of where my ambitions in the political field have come from. You know, I’ve achieved a lot, but I want to deliver impact, and I’ve done some of that through charities and things like that, but I want to do more. And so that’s where I feel like the journey’s taking me.

Sean O’Neill: The people that know me know I’m not politically minded. However, if I had a vote, I’d vote for you. So based on how I have got to know you and how you always have the North Star or ambition or goals in mind, could you tell me what you’d like to see in the future, if you get into and are able to make a difference in politics, what that would look like?

Devina Paul: So, I suppose where my heart is is London. It’s where I was born. It’s where my parents met in the sixties. And it’s a city that has given me so much, whether that’s friendship, whether that’s love, whether that’s my career. And to me, it’s one of the best cities in the world. And if I can give back,….

Sean O’Neill: Other than Liverpool.

Devina Paul: Liverpool’s a great city. I’m pious to London, Liverpool’s name. But that’s what I want to be able to. That’s where I want to be able to give back. How can I give back to Londoners? How can I do good work that can, you know, we all know London is a city of really two halves. You know, incredibly wealthy but incredibly poor and deprived. And, you know, there’s issues around safety, but equally, it’s for arts, culture, nightlife, business, financial services. It does all these great things. How can I give all of that back? How can I give myself back to London? That would be the end goal.

Sean O’Neill: A question I ask a lot of people that I get to know and enjoy. The companies that your parents have had their struggles and you have experienced, you know, how your parents have taught you. We’re starting to live in a world where it’s. I guess it’s challenging in a different way, but at the same time, quite comfortable for the next generation in some ways.

How are you going to instill those values in your son and ensure that he’s as driven as you, as ambitious as you, as appreciative as you? And maybe because I can tell he’s going to have a great life with a wonderful mother that’s going to look after him well, he might not struggle as much as other people. And sometimes the struggle as we’ve talked about is the real lessons and how we grow. How are you going to be able to for him to understand those values and be driven and as appreciative as you?

Devina Paul: I mean, I think if your value, if you are a really values driven person, they’re at the core of everything you do. So you would hope amorphously that, you know, your children will pick that up, but you have to keep, you have to be grounded and you have to keep them grounded as well. So I think that will be okay. I think through me, through his grandmother, through his family, you know, through friendships, he’s surrounded by great people who will always keep him grounded, who will always be there for him.

To me, the most important thing is that he feels loved and he feels secure. And I think if he has those things, everything else will follow. If he feels loved and he feels secure, everything else will follow.

Sean O’Neill: Feel loved, feel secure. I think that goes for all of us. Devina, Paul, thank you so much for your time!

Devina Paul: Thank you, Sean. That was great!