Today, Vend’s board appointed Alex Fala as new CEO after a four-month global recruitment search. Fala, previously VP of Strategy and CFO at Vend, has served as acting CEO since founder Vaughan Rowsell stepped down from the role in February. Prior to Vend, Fala has held executive roles at TradeMe, Les Mills International and Orion Health.
His appointment is the latest in a series of executive and board appointments at Vend to further prepare the company for the next stages of international growth. Darryl Robinson (CFO) and Pene Barton (chief people officer) recently joined Vend from Xero, and Ben Gracewood was promoted internally to chief delivery officer. Also, Sam Morgan was appointed to the board and Barry Brott moved into the Chair.
“Alex brings a breadth of experience from his consulting days and with iconic Kiwi growth companies, allowing me to make the move to concentrate on the product,” says Rowsell, who will continue at the company as chief product officer. “A few months in and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. We conducted a global search and recruitment drive but it quickly became clear that Alex was the right person to take the helm for our next phase. The Board and I are thrilled he’s accepted the permanent role as Vend’s CEO.”
Acting CEO Alex Fala
Fala, unsurprisingly, has high ambitions for the company. “We’ve got an opportunity to be a global leader in our category and one of the great businesses coming out of New Zealand,” he says. “We’re so well placed with the right team, product and partners. It’s been incredible to be part of the Vend journey so far and I’m raring to go in my new role.”
Though Auckland will remain Vend’s HQ, and Fala will be based there, he says part of becoming a global leader means continued expansion overseas. Even with weightless products, it’s important for the company to have physical proximity to global markets. “It’s not so much the product that’s the issue,” he says. “It’s that our customers and partners are everywhere. So we need to be everywhere.”
Fala, who attended Oxford University as the second person of Pacific Island ancestry to receive the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, says he will continue to build on the work Rowsell has done to encourage a diverse culture and workplace at Vend, but says that diversity isn't just a problem in the technology sector, but a problem which needs to be addressed socially, in health and education.
When asked if he’s worried about new competition coming from either a tech giant or one of the big banks, Fala says that he subscribes to the philosophy of Intel founder Andrew Grove: Only the paranoid survive. “We’ve spent five years building not only a great product but a great team, and that’s not easy to copy,” he says. “But, of course I worry. I worry about everything.”