Cherie is an Organizational Psychologist and the CEO of Revelian, a Brisbane, Australia-based organization specializing in the development and delivery of psychometric assessments used by employers to inform hiring decisions. In 2019, more than 500,000 individuals globally undertook Revelian assessments, which are used by + 2,000 employers globally, including a number of Fortune 500 organizations.

The 20-year-old organization has a long history of innovation, being the first Australian company to offer online psychometric assessment in 1999, and subsequently designing two world-first game based assessments, Cognify and Emotify.  

Cherie has a unique story, as she joined Revelian in 2003 as an intern, progressing to Head of Psychology in 2005 and then CEO in 2015! Cherie has been recognized as the nation’s top leader in the 2016 AIM Leadership Excellence Awards and was a finalist in the 2015 Qld Telstra Business Women’s Awards.

Cherie is responsible for the strategic and operational direction of the business, and delivers solutions that utilize advancements in both technology and psychology to provide best practice outcomes to a variety of customers globally.  

Q: What inspired you to join Revelian and what were the main challenges you faced?

While I was completing my Organisational Psychology degree in 2001, I heard about this new start-up that was doing something incredible. In those days, pre-employment testing meant long and arduous paper and pencil tests, which usually took candidates around three hours to complete. The company then had to send the tests away to be marked, or mark them one by one.

Onetest, as we were then known, wanted to change all of that with Australia’s first online pre-employment test, which would assess a person’s cognitive ability and only take 20 minutes to complete. Candidates could do it whenever and wherever suited them, and clients would get the results straight away. I just knew I had to be part of this, so I got myself hired as an intern and had the privilege of working on developing the company’s (and Australia’s) very first online assessment.

In the time I’ve worked at Revelian I’ve been in multiple roles – from intern to CEO – worked on a number of new product innovations, adjusted the structure of our business to enable us to scale, sought and achieved a strategic change in our ownership and now am focussed on a smooth and rewarding integration with our parent company Criteria, who acquired us in February of this year. Each of those phases comes with its own challenges and rewards - we only have to reflect on the events of this year to know that unexpected things can happen that require you to adjust quickly. It’s given me a new appreciation of how important it is to build a robust business populated with talented people, and a leadership team who are prepared to make the right decisions for the business, pivoting as needed but keeping a firm hold on the core values that have stood us in good stead.

Cherie Curtis

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

We’ve grown the business through a combination of licenced, product-based and transactional revenue, which at the time enabled us to provide flexibility in the way our customers could engage with us depending on their needs. Now, those needs are shifting and customers are increasingly looking to engagement models that enable their costs to be predictable, their price point to be appropriate for their business size and product use, and their experience loaded with an array of products and functionality that’s continually being enhanced. In other words – a true SaaS model. That’s where the focus of our business model is moving to, and what will underpin our next phase of revenue growth. It’s beneficial for our customers for all the reasons I mentioned, and it’s beneficial for our business too, as we move to having a greater proportion of annual recurring revenue which we can use to invest in future growth and innovation.

Q: Do you think luck played a role in the success of your company?

No, I don’t.  It’s been a mix of talent, hard work, commitment, courage, innovative thinking, willingness to experiment, belief in what we do, an uncompromising approach to product quality and customer centricity. I’m proud to say we have that across our whole team.

Q: What are your goals for the future?

Right now, we’re working on coming out of 2020 in as strong a position as we can, and planning for what we all hope is a better business climate in 2021. There’s a strong focus on integration with our parent company Criteria, to build a single business with the best elements of both entities and to capitalise on that to grow our market share and revenue, and with that of course comes new opportunities for the team.  We have an ambitious R&D roadmap, a whole swag of new assessments and a new platform to launch into APAC early in the new year. And we have healthy growth targets to achieve. So there are a lot of great goals to kick in the immediate future. 

Q: If you had to start over in your career, what would you do differently?

I would learn business financials earlier in my career. I think no matter what role you hold, in any sector, this is an invaluable skill to have and is highly transferable. Starting my professional career as an Organisational Psychologist, this was not a focus of my tertiary education but rather it was knowledge I acquired once in the professional sphere. In hindsight, knowing the importance of this, I would have prioritised this even earlier in my career. 

Q: Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?

I don’t think I can say there has been one woman who has materially impacted by life, by rather a series of woman at different times, in different ways over the years. There is a varied array of woman across my personal life, my professional network and even broader community icons that have impacted my life in meaningful ways. It has not only been the woman showing great success in their lives, but also the woman sharing their struggle. Both sides of this coin are often enmeshed and there is no doubt that the more woman truthfully share their journey, the more rich the learnings. I have really appreciated learning from the imperfections of others experiences as much as their achievements. 

Q: What are your favorite books?

Once again I have a few here rather than just one. I tend to use books as a relaxation and a method of personal escape, and therefor prioritise Fiction in my personal time. Some of my favourites include; Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, Room by Emma Donoghue, Educated by Tara Westover, Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Q: What's your advice for female CEOs who are just starting out?

Lead in a way that is authentic to you, your own style and in your own manner. There is no exact recipe for success nor ideal profile for a CEO, but what makes you unique is your secret recipe for success. Lean into that rather than feel like you need to be anything or anyone else. Stay connected to people who ground you, especially in your personal life and establish a couple of strong professional peers you can be vulnerable with. It can be a very lonely role and this meaningful network will prove invaluable to your journey.