Becoming COO: Q&A with Likezero’s Joli Riley

15 August 2022

Tell us more about you and the background that has led you to the role of COO at Likezero.

I was delighted to be approached for the role of COO at Likezero – it felt as if all the work I had done up to this point had led me here.  My role of COO has two primary responsibilities: delivery implementation projects and post go-live application support. I have a rare background in that I have switched throughout my career between implementation and post go-live support – most people stick to one side of that line. I care deeply about both the project side of getting a client live and also providing excellent ongoing support. In the past I have been a delivery manager for a larger software company as well as Head of App Support – so I have all the relevant experience for this role and am enjoying putting it to work to build and grow Likezero.

I have spent ten years of my career working in the world of securities finance at Morgan Stanley and then consulting at UBS and Barcap. This is relevant for Likezero given our primary target markets, especially collateral management and ISLA agreements.


What attracted you to Likezero?

When I was introduced to Likezero I was shown a demo of the product and saw instantly how valuable and powerful the software was. I only wished I had something like that in my previous roles where looking through contracts and layers of amendments was time-consuming and required a high degree of concentration (and cost!)  to ensure quality.  The ability to see a version of the contract with all the amendments applied is in itself very powerful!

I have always enjoyed being a pioneer – working out how to do something for the first time – setting up a new office, expanding into a new domain, building a new practice. Working at a high-growth software company that is pioneering a next-generation approach to extracting and managing data from legal agreements gives me that pioneering buzz all the time.


What are your first impressions of Likezero?

The Likezero people impress me the most, with their deep knowledge of the banking domain, especially ISDAs and CSAs, their determination to solve complex problems, and genuine interest to be market disruptors and revamp the contract management space. I have also noticed that there is an abundance of ‘value adding’ opportunities for Likezero in today’s market.  In light of all the recent market events, our client base is looking for a reliable solution that will provide them with a true golden source of agreement data so that they are better placed to make more effective decisions in times of a crisis! It seems that our client base and primary target market are really ready to adopt Likezero.


What have been your favourite moments so far in Likezero?

Talking to the users of the software and hearing how excited they are to have it to manage their job. In my first week, a client was talking about how without Likezero, he could only make assumptions about how contracts might look as he didn’t have the manpower or time to review all of them manually – but with Likezero he could “rest easy, knowing that he had checked 100% of the docs for accuracy and completeness when a change was needed”.  He can now serve his clients faster and reduce human error.

Making our Clients happy is everything to me – without our clients, we don’t have a business. It’s really rewarding working in a client-first culture, but especially when it’s also reciprocated by the clients, who love and get real value from the software.


What can you tell us about the COO plans and priorities for 2022?

My number one priority is setting up for expansion: our present projects are proving our value proposition and this will inevitably create a snowball effect where we will be winning more and more new business – I’m anticipating that we will need to be able to run multiple large scale implementations concurrently. Ensuring we have the same quality for 10+ clients as when we have just one is the challenge I am setting myself.  Key to this will be working with partnerships – we have set up some great partnerships at the moment for best-of-breed implementations. The common bottleneck to expansion is training and enablement, so it will be critical to ensure we have a way to train clients, partners and new Likezero team members and get them up to speed quickly.


As the world is starting to emerge from the pandemic, how do you think this is changing how we work?

Hybrid and more remote working is here to stay. As Likezero was born during the pandemic, our software has always been designed with dispersed teams in mind. Software solutions will be more important to allow for seamless workflow and handover between teams and between different members of the team. You can no longer just ask the person next to you to have a quick look at something – automation of workflow is key to delivering consistent results. The Likezero software will enable remote and dislocated teams to work efficiently together.


As COO, you have a number of staff working for you.  What advice do you give to your team to help them grow?

One of our values is that we are “EMPOWERED: We seek to develop and grow talent” – I love empowering the next generation. It’s one thing to be good at your own job but it’s another to be good at enabling others. Too often when people crave promotion or extra responsibility they look to see what positions above them are available, but it’s equally as important to empower others below you so that if you do move up, you don’t leave a vacuum.   I recently gave a talk on FLOW by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – I love the way that he talks about keeping the balance of challenge and skills – you need to grow in small, incremental steps.  It really resonates with the philosophy of Kaizen too – the idea of making continual incremental improvements.


What’s exciting for the future of Likezero?

In the immediate future – we’re expanding the product to include better MI and be able to integrate with systems to allow Likezero to speed up the client onboarding process. There is so much possibility for Likezero – given that it’s agnostic about domain and agreement types, the sky’s the limit! I’ve spent over half my career working in North America, helping my previous companies to establish themselves in that market, so I’m excited to be able to take Likezero on that journey too as we expand.

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