Jonny Combe

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CEO, PayByPhone & Former BMW UK Innovation Lab

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Synopsis

Leading innovation in BMW’s financial services, sales and leasing divisions, Jonny worked with all areas of the business as well as with third party startups. It saw him challenging internal conventions and cultures in the name of creating new ideas and more engaged colleagues. He went on to lead the UK arm of PayByPhone, the mobile payment platform. He recounts his lessons in how organisations tend to realise the importance of innovation as a solution to challenges ahead, but are institutionally ill-suited to embracing it. He considers how it’s easier to get people to risk money rather than their reputation, the challenges in getting departments to co-operate, and how to get permission to take chances, as well as how a crisis can highlight the importance of customer relationships, flexibility and employee engagement.

Biography

Jonny Combe is the UK CEO of PayByPhone, the leading mobile payment company, and previously led innovation projects at BMW UK. A self-proclaimed car obsessive, he’s been in the automotive business since the age of 14 when he started cleaning cars in his native rural Scotland before going on to study marketing and buying and selling cars to supplement his income.

Joining the BMW Group as a graduate, Jonny went on to various roles within UK company, and latterly in BMW’s Financial Services organisation leading their Digital and Innovation Programmes. This included the birth of the BMW Innovation Lab and The Intrapreneur Lab, the first projects of their kind within the automotive finance industry. The programmes enabled representatives from throughout the business to consider new areas of business and new partnerships. These ideas would serve as a proving ground for the future not just of BMW, but of the wider industry, looking at areas from car sharing to smart parking.

Jonny left BMW to join one of the fastest growing mobile payments companies in the world, PayByPhone, as CEO. PayByPhone provide the platform for millions of drivers to pay for parking via apps and SMS, with customers including many local authorities, as well as private landowners, retailers, and those in the heritage sector. In the advent of Covid-19 and travel by car dramatically reducing, PayByPhone saw their revenue fall by over 90%. Jonny encouraged the company to reach out to their customers, forming a community and providing assistance and new ideas in areas not normally a part of their relationship, from producing signage to ensuring free parking for key workers. They also looked internally, supporting colleagues individually and collectively, creating social activities, adjusting to new working patterns and adapting to the uncertainties the business faced.

Jonny continues to put innovation and people first, challenging established norms and cultures, and encouraging creative solutions to new problems.

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