Blog· 3min October 11, 2023
Building a business can be one of the most rewarding challenges that you will ever find in the business world. But it can also be tough. A winding road with many ups and downs, major successes and big disappointments. It can be nerve-wrecking, unsettling, energy-consuming and complex. And the odds are massively against you when you are starting off with some seed capital, a small office and big plans and ambitions.
Little did I know about all of this when Tom Kozlowski and I got together at Richard Little’s kitchen table in Pimlico and started discussing the idea of building a ‘payments platform in the cloud’ in early 2016 with some seed investors.
However, a few months later, we had founded a company, appointed a board and a chairman, collected some seed money and rented an office in the city. Mike Walters, Steve Cook and Adam Moulson bought into the idea very early on and decided to give up their successful corporate careers and come on the journey with us - before it had even started. Certainly a brave move at the time.
I soon found out that facing the challenges of a first-time start-up/scale-up CEO is not only much easier, but also a lot more enjoyable if you share the experience with some brilliant Co-founders, early colleagues and one of the best Chairmen that I can think of. Colleagues who celebrate with you when times are good and pull you up when the going gets tough. Ambitious individuals who are willing to dedicate many years of their working lives to building a great company. I am immensely grateful to everyone who joined us in these early days.
Following the tremendous growth that we have seen in recent years, significant investments that we made in a high-end payment processing platform, successful expansion from the UK to the European and US markets and a strong ramp up of the transaction volume on the platform, I believe that it is now the right time for Form3 to open the next chapter of its journey and implement some management changes that we have been planning for some time.
As part of these plans, I have proposed to the board to transfer my responsibilities as CEO of Form3 to one of the first employees, co-founder and my friend Mike Walters. As our Chief Product Officer, Mike has been instrumental in the design and the delivery of our strategy and product vision and in many ways the ‘brain behind Form3’s value proposition’. Together with our CTO, Steve Cook, Mike has been leading our R&D organisation and relentlessly driven innovation into the payment technology market. Also, he has been working closely with many of our key customers and his knowledge about this market and clear vision of our strategic direction in response to a rapidly evolving technical and regulatory environment is second to none. I could not think of a better successor in this role.
I am also pleased to announce that we have asked Eimear O’Connor to take over from Mike as Chief Product Officer (CPO). As employee number seven, Eimear has been the first and only Chief Operating Officer that the business has ever had. In her role, she has been instrumental in making sure that we are processing very significant transaction volumes safely - every single day. Eimear will bring this and her previous experience as a product manager into her new role, focusing on extending our product proposition into new markets and new services. Again, a perfect successor for Mike who will be executing our strategic agenda from a product perspective.
And finally, I am pleased to announce that the board has asked me to take over from Tom Kozlowski as the Executive Chair of Form3. This move has been discussed between us for some years and working closely with Tom since we launched the business has taught me a lot and prepared me for chairing a business like Form3. The board and the executive team will forever be grateful for his leadership and counsel from those very early days.
As part of my new role, I will, in addition to managing the board, retain some executive responsibilities, including key customer relationships, industry initiatives and our US market roll-out. As a chairman, I will work hard to ensure that we are adjusting the governance of the business to the requirements and challenges of the next stage of our evolution – with significant responsibility for payment processing at scale in all our key markets.
I am convinced that the above changes represent a good mix of development opportunity and challenge for colleagues who have been part of our journey from the very early days on the one hand, and the continuity and long-term planning that a business like ours requires on the other. And they put Form3 on a very stable footing for years to come – for the benefit of our colleagues, customers and shareholders.
I am very excited about what the future holds for Form3 and fully committed to do what I can in my new role to achieve our strategic objectives.
Congratulations to Mike and Eimear on their new roles and a big thank you to Tom, the board and the wider executive team, who have been very supportive of these changes in recent weeks and months.
Michael set up Form3 in 2016 after spending more than 25 years in executive positions with Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Barclays. Before that, he was Global Head of Cash Management and a Member of the Corporate Banking Executive Committee at Barclays.
For many years Michael has been passionate about driving digital change and innovation in global banks and has sponsored many key initiatives in this area, including white-labeling, biometric security, cloud-computing and mobile payment/banking technology.
Re-engineering payment back-office systems in response to industry developments, customers demand, capacity constraints, cyber threats, payment fraud and cost challenges has been a strong focus of Michael’s work during his time in financial services and as the CEO of Form3.
In October 2023 Michael handed over his responsibilities as CEO to Mike Walters and was appointed Executive Chairman, focussing on governance, investor relations, strategy, corporate development, key clients and industry initiatives.
Michael holds a degree in Organisational Psychology and a Master of Business Administration from INSEAD.