RadiusPoint CEO Sharon Watkins Speaks to UNCAGED

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RadiusPoint CEO Sharon R Watkins interviewed on the UNCAGED Podcast

The show focused on how RadiusPoint serves its clients, notably:

  • How Corporate Social Responsibility is changing reporting requirements for businesses
  • How supply chain-related cost increases cascade at all levels of the P&L, and the need to cut costs
  • How RadiusPoint helped clients overcome the Covid lockdowns
  • How RadiusPoint fulfills its mission of helping clients with expense management control

See the transcript of the podcast under the video player.

Transcript of the podcast

Bant Breen:

Welcome to UNCAGED, the show that celebrates thought leadership from today’s top business leaders. The program provides a voice to amazing executives from around the globe who are shaping the world of business today and mapping the path to the commerce of tomorrow. Today, we’re speaking with Sharon Watkins. Hey Sharon, how are you?

Sharon Watkins, RadiusPoint-ExpenseLogic CEO:

I’m doing very well. Thank you. How are you?


Bant Breen:

I’m great. I’m great. I’m excited to talk to you about your business journey and what you’re working on now. Sharon is the CEO of RadiusPoint, which is a 30-year old telecom and utility expense management firm. It’s been doing a lot of cool stuff.

One of the things I’m sure we’ll touch on is the work of creating ExpenseLogic, which is a software that helps individuals basically make the most of their utility and telecom expense management processes.

And so we’ll get to that in a second, but before we do share and tell us a little bit about yourself and your career.

Sharon Watkins, RadiusPoint-ExpenseLogic CEO:

Okay. Awesome. Well, I just celebrated my 30th anniversary here at RadiusPoint in January. So that’s a great milestone in my life. I have a great husband of 36 years, two daughters, both of which work in the company with me and 4 grandchildren. I have a lot of family and friends in my personal life.

And, since we do work with a lot of different companies, my life here at work is never the same. So a lot of exciting things going on, always. Each day is a new day.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Bant Breen:

Yeah. Well, let’s talk a little bit more about RadiusPoint, the journey you’ve had at the company and what you guys are working on now.

Sharon Watkins, RadiusPoint-ExpenseLogic CEO:

So we’re excited about a couple of different things. Not sure how much people have heard about the corporate social responsibility that companies are having to go through. And so, I’m so fortunate that I get to work with a great group of our software developers and I work with clients who express their needs of a particular software report or capability.

And that’s one of the things that has come up with the corporate social responsibility. Now in the us, we’re a little bit behind the EU, the UK, and even California. There they’ve progressed a little bit more than the rest of the states. But with this corporate corporate social responsibility, companies are having to report their carbon footprint, their usage, their consumption for their utilities.

And so we’ve been doing this for a couple of years with our clients in the UK and EU, and just this year in California. Then other clients have come on board with that. And so with our software, it’s already reporting detailed information, but we’ve taken it a step further to give that capability to push a button to do this reporting for their environmental sustainability programs for companies across the US.

Helping corporations with their CSR reporting requirements

Bant Breen:

That’s great. So tell me a little bit more about that. So essentially, utilities basically work with you to get a report, or how is this shared with customers? How does that work?

Sharon Watkins, RadiusPoint-ExpenseLogic CEO:

So we, we actually, with our ExpenseLogic software that we’ve created, we break down the [utility] bill. Instead of just having “Oh, my total due is $1,500 and it’s due on this date”, we break down all of the line items that are underneath that invoice that make up the consumption, the off-peak hours, the on-peak hours, the winter months, the summer months, the distribution charges.

All of those charges that make up those invoices.

So with that, we had to take it a step further with this reporting because they have to have demand meter readings, and consumption and the distribution charges, and a few other charges that are normally not captured on an invoice. So they can, at the end of the year (technically the beginning of the next year) push a button, create a report, submit that report. In the UK and the EU, they have to send it to the government.

In California, they’re doing the same thing now. A lot of these companies are just using this on their corporate pages to show their carbon footprint and corporate social responsibility, to show that they’re sustainable, they’re responsible, that sort of things.

But it is gonna be taking it a bit further because in the UK and in the EU, they’re using [this report] to buy back credits and to sell credits of the consumption they did not use. So it’s a step further, it’s coming to the US, and companies just need to get ready for it.

Bant Breen:

Yes, it’s been a trend for the last couple of years, for sure. I would say that the big thing that we’ve noticed is that kind of SDG, you know, these initiatives have perhaps gotten real now in the US. It’s not just lip service anymore. This is actually something that is making material difference in business. So that’s really, really exciting.

You’re working in a space, telecom and utilities, that is probably first and foremost on a lot of people’s minds right now, you know, we’re living in a world right now where there are shortages everywhere.

And I imagine costs are going up everywhere. Tell us a little bit about the landscape and what we’re seeing right now.

Cost increases and cost-cutting

Sharon Watkins, RadiusPoint-ExpenseLogic CEO:

Well, very good question. We meet with our clients twice a year — actually more than that — but we do business review twice a year, and everyone that had that first quarter business reviews and observed that all their expenses have gone up.

They’re all out of budget, over budget and they’re looking for ways to save money. And so, if you think about energy usage and trickle that down to gas consumption or gas usage and gas prices, there’s not a commodity in business expense that does not use gas. You think of trash pickup, of water bottle delivery, of copier maintenance… Every commodity is gonna use gas.

So you can’t just say, “Oh, this is only affecting my electric or my gas consumption.” No, it’s affecting all of those other expenses because they have to have gas, even your people. The [human resources] problem that everyone is having is it’s costing people more gas to go to work.

And so employers are thinking “I need to maybe pay more money”. So this energy crisis is — technically, you’d think it’s in a box… but no, it’s widespread. It’s basically like a spider web. Every piece of it touches something else in a company’s business, and every commodity has been touched by it. As expenses are increasing, you’ve gotta do something to cut costs

Bant Breen:

It’s really interesting. You know, we have offices around the world and Europeans have been paying higher telecom and utility bills for quite a while compared to us in the US. And I would say that when I see these prices rise to $5+ a gallon of gas, in Europe, they kind of are like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re used to that. We have been having to deal with that forever.”

But [for Americans] it is such a big change because this is really at the center of how American cities are built. People have to drive, they gotta drive to work. A lot of cities are in warm climates, they need air conditioning running. They need all that stuff. So we have interesting times ahead, Sharon, for sure.

So tell me a little bit about the last couple of years. We’ve been living through this moment, which has been quite profound in how society has really shifted. It’s very much proving out to be quite a watershed moment in the world. Just being curious to hear how things shifted at RadiusPoint… Perhaps how you guys were working or learnings that have come from it.

Challenges during the Covid lockdowns

Sharon Watkins, RadiusPoint-ExpenseLogic CEO:

One of the things that we found out early on, was that we were considered a necessary business. Our clients, as soon as the COVID scare hit and people were closing their businesses, [our clients] contacted us and said “you’ve gotta remain open, you’ve gotta continue working” — which we had, we had contracts to fulfill.

So we sent some folks home that were older, more vulnerable, but there were certain jobs that we had to do. Just like a grocery store, you know, you had to have people there. So we had to have people here. And we have clients across the US, we work in the healthcare industry, grocery stores, etc. Multiple clients sent us in letters saying, “please, you’re an essential business, you have to stay open because you have to pay our bills.

And I have to say, our team of people, our core team of people were amazing. We shifted the office, everyone spread out, just the group of people that continued to come in day after day, had the best attitudes… I just couldn’t believe it. Mirror that against some of the vendors we work with, that we literally would call and they would say “No one’s there. No one can help you.”

So we are trying to pay an electric bill so that they don’t disconnect the services. And they’re saying, “no one’s in the office.” So I counted my blessings every day that we had such an amazing team. Our clients would be in a tizzy that, “you know, we need to get this bill paid…” — because we pay the bills as well. We don’t just process them, we actually pay the bills as well.

We couldn’t just say enough great things about our team. We actually had a client, a global client that utilizes us: they did an analysis right after COVID hit. We manage about $14M a month for them. So they did an analysis of 500 of their vendors, and only two got premier status, and we were one of them. Just because of our capabilities and our continuing to work.

So, a lot of challenges? Yes. Amazing challenges. But we overcame them and we have an amazing team that we work with here.

Bant Breen:

It’s really interesting to see at those times of, let’s say, challenges or an inflection point, how the team rises to those challenges. It really shows that you guys have a strong culture. And that’s really wonderful to hear.

In fact, I would say one of the things that we found is that culture became so much more important, but it evolved, right? Because we all moved from having that kind of “in-house water cooler culture” to a bit of a “Zoom culture”. And how do you manage all of that type of stuff? It’s always been very, very interesting.

So Sharon, we’re living through interesting times again here in 2022. We touched on energy as it is first and foremost in every person’s mind these days… What do you see for the back half of 2022?

Expense management

Sharon Watkins, RadiusPoint-ExpenseLogic CEO:

Well, as far as work related, I think that more people will be coming back into the office, work wise. Here at RadiusPoint, we feel a bit of pressure from our clients just wanting to save money. “How can we cut costs?” We’ve done mid-contract negotiations, cutting costs for our clients in some areas that you wouldn’t even think that… you just asked the vendor and they were able to reduce costs.

So, from our point of view, I feel it’s going to be a rush to the end of the year, with getting new clients set up, adding new projects just from the clients asking us: “Where else can we save money? We need to dig.”

I think cash is gonna be king the rest of the year. Companies are going to want to save money every way that they possibly can. So that’s what we’re in this business for, to save our clients time and money.

Wrapping up

Bant Breen:

I would think that, in fact, this may be the point for RadiusPoint, or the moment for RadiusPoint… because this is where you guys are the experts in trying to figure out how to do this more efficiently, manage this stuff in a way that can continue to do what every business needs, which is they all need power. They all need telecom to continue to push deals forward and keep the economy going.

Sharon, thank you so much for being on UNCAGED today.

We’ve been speaking with Sharon Watkins, CEO of RadiusPoint, a 30-year old telecom and utility expense management firm. We’ve been talking to her about some of the initiatives that they’ve been pushing forward on the sustainable business side of things, as well as the landscape for telecom and utility expense management today. And what RadiusPoint is doing to assist its customers in finding efficient and scalable solutions.

It’s been great talking to you, Sharon. If someone wanted to reach you, where’s the best place to find you?

Sharon Watkins:

Well, I’m in Orlando, Florida.

Bant Breen:

Come on down!

Sharon Watkins:

Everybody else is coming, you as well. SWatkins [at] radiuspoint [dot] com is my email. And you can always reach me there, or give us a call at 407-657-4169. You’ll get to us as well.

Bant Breen:

Excellent. Well Sharon, thanks again for being on the show and we look forward to having you back.