At Tru Talent we are truly lucky to be immersed within a community of experts. Each individual has their own talent, opinion and knowledge. We decided that instead of writing what we thought of the world and the industries we all work in, why don’t we ask them?

This has part of our series of Q&A style articles that we hope will inspire you, educate you, and or empower you.

We had a chat with the lovely Cara Ashford, Business Development Manager for Rolling Rogues about her new position, what a good team looks like and how to take that leap and go for that new career.

Tru Talent:  What is your title and what is your role there at Rolling Rogues?

Cara:  My title at the Rolling Rogues is Business Development Manager but as with any small team you rarely just do what is outlined in your title. This week I have been directing some training videos and next week I will probably be making the tea’s! I was bought into the team to drive The Rolling Rogues business forward, searching out opportunities with brands and companies we feel are best aligned with our style of delivery but I will also pull on my marketing and film experience when needed.

Tru Talent Do you think the way in which you and others ‘business develop’ has changed dramatically?

Cara:  I hope not, I still believe the best way to business develop is to get in front of people and have a good old conversation face to face. Obviously the technology to do this has changed and made working across distance easier. It now means that we can sit down with companies abroad and not have to jump on a plane but I think ultimately it’s still about the conversation and connection with the client.

Tru Talent: When you’ve ever moved jobs, what’s been the big draw for you?

Cara:  When I was younger it used to be the money. If that was the case now then I would be heading straight back to one of my previous sales jobs. I did read somewhere that the hours spent at work in an average lifetime is 90,000 so its no wonder that I have now realised its about the team and also the passion you have for the job you are doing. For me it’s about how that job and environment make me feel. I want to get up every morning and want to go to work, the second that stops happening on a regular basis I will look to move.

Tru Talent: You’ve had a hugely successful career with some really interesting roles. Asides from working blinkin’ hard and of course your transferable skills, what other factors have been important in you successfully getting new roles throughout your career?

Cara:  One of the big reasons is I like interviews, I relish the opportunity to speak with someone who works for the company about the role and to get inside the building. You can get a real feel for a company even by sitting in their reception or walking through the office. I also don’t see not getting past the interview stage as a failure. I see them more as a practice for my next one.

I have also had some genuinely great bosses and equally good friends that have let me know about opportunities coming up and there is definitely a ‘right place, right time’ aspect to the roles.

Tru Talent:  What makes a team successful in your eyes? I know, this is a biggy…

Cara:  A team is meant to be a set of individuals working together to achieve the same goal. The great teams I have worked in have grown to be really good friends and have supported each other in and out of work. Many of them I am still in contact with. I think a great team is a set of people who are honest with each other, let others share their opinions, champion the growth of each member of the team and also one where every member is happy to pick up the bin and empty it!

Tru Talent: What would you look for in a new member of staff or team member?

Cara:  In the Rogues this isn’t my decision to make but I would definitely get the wider team involved, just because I think someone is right doesn’t mean they are a right fit for the team. I would look for someone who looks you in the eye when they speak. Someone who is interested in their health, mentally and physically. A person that has positive energy, honest and has an opinion.

Tru Talent:  What advice would you give to someone who is moving career, or fresh out of university that is searching for the perfect opportunity?

Cara:  Do not be afraid to offer to work for a company for a day for free so they can see what you are like and how you fit into the team. At the start of my filming career I walked into a production company and offered to work a day for free, whilst I was there a job came in and they asked me to stay for a further 6 weeks, from then I worked freelance for a number of production companies in London and for the next 2 years I had work – all from a free day.

Pick the top ten companies you want to work for, those you are passionate about, those you can see yourself being a part of. . Tell them you want to work for them and why. Get yourself 10 minutes of their time and put yourself on their radar. There may not be a job for you now but there could be one for you in the future. I think too many people sit and wait for jobs to appear and then apply with a stack of other people. You need to be proactive and find ways to get yourself in front of them.

We are touching lightly upon A.I again this month, but this time from a hiring perspective. This is because it works so well alongside our hot topic of the month here at RISE which has been (other than why is it ACTUALLY so hot we can’t sleep / eat / breathe) :  What a good candidate looks like!

A recently published Article suggested that Recruitment Agencies may become a thing of the past as A.I starts to play a bigger part in recruiting and internal hiring. Are companies set to lean towards this kind of technology to find their next star players?

But let’s ask the question again…..what does a good candidate look like? Have you asked yourself this question and do you continue to ask it whilst writing job descriptions, scanning through CV’s and carrying out interviews?

At first thought, the usual “tick box” criteria might arise such as “Someone with the right Qualifications” “proficient in using Microsoft & basic admin level Software” “A minimum length of experience in that exact field” and so on.

Where all of these things, are of course important, none of these questions make space for a candidate who has the

right personality or interests and outlook to fit the culture of the team or the business as a whole?

Sometimes a “good candidate” for you or for the role you are hiring for, could be as simple as “Someone to come and inspire or implement change in a team” “Someone who might be a speedy learner and is not afraid of a challenge” “someone who has outstanding communication skills”?

These are things that are often lost on paper!

These discussions have been open and ongoing in our office this month as our team have been reflecting upon their own experiences of what a good candidate looks like:

Aimee “When you look at someone’s CV sometimes they don’t appear to have the skills you’re looking for but when you actually have a conversation with them you can get a better feel for a person and start to see their real qualities and skills.” 

Our MD Toni believes firmly in the fact that:

Character should not be overlooked, as the ability to fit into a team and get along with other people is what pushes you into top roles

As a “good candidate”, having the confidence to honour yourself as an individual and not be afraid to be open about what you are looking for is vital. It has to be a fit for you too!

Toni: “Being yourself in an interview is your strongest asset. Even if a certain role doesn’t seem like your cup of tea, it doesn’t mean you failed. Why would you work for a company that doesn’t suit you either?”

There are obviously many roles that require a specific skillset, especially within I.T and Technology. Camila, our I.T Specialist Consultant, sometimes finds that if she has a certain role that is a little more flexible in terms of leaving room for training and development then the “Right Fit” can really come in to play.

Camila – “I have a candidate who is specialised in a certain field in IT and every time I see a relevant role come up I think of him. Not because he is technically the best, but because he is just a really nice person and I want to help him find the perfect role. I will always push for interviews for him. “

All of these things that we touched on as a team really brought to attention, how much of what we do is based on “People”. Understanding, empathy, Human Nature, even guessing someone’s next move. Is A.I going to be that…well…..intelligent?

We see it often where clients have a range of candidates with very similar experience and qualifications who, on paper, tick all the boxes but then there will be a “Wild Card” candidate that might not have experience in certain aspects of the role, but they end up hiring that person because they had a better connection with them.

They had turned up bright eyed and enthusiastic and asked all of the right questions. Their personality and vibrancy were just absolutely perfect and the client’s “Light Bulb Moment” was realising that all of other “missing stuff” could just be learned and wasn’t as vital as they had first thought.

Chris – “If someone comes in excited and raring to go, that’s a great first sign as it gets me excited about putting them forward to a Client, I look forward to telling them about someone special”

Maybe companies could end up missing out on these wonderful experiences if just relying upon tech. An inspiring connection can sometimes be made when meeting people face to face, especially in interviews, for both parties involved!

The other point being, that potentially, A.I might not be flexible enough to accommodate the very best of Human Nature which is to “change one’s mind.” We are all guilty of it and hey life happens!

So many factor’s and influences affect people applying for roles and hirers making offers.

Sometimes we get thrown off course ourselves, and well, we understand Humans better than A.I (……..hopefully!)

Upon reading a previous article that we published and have referred back to above: “Celebrating the Things That Make you Unique” I stumbled across this quote from Angela:

“If someone walked in here now and they knew what was expected of them, with the right attitude and the right values regardless of their experience I would take them on within a heartbeat. It is that spark someone has in their eyes.”

This couldn’t ring more true and more in line with what we do and I am happy to say that I am living proof of this.

By chance I was working in close vicinity to RISE in my previous role, and developed a relationship with the team and four months later here I am! No specific job role experience, no qualifications. Just purely a “connection with the team and the right outlook”. I might not have been able to “tick the boxes” if I had applied for a position in the regular way.

We are not saying that skill set or experience count for nothing. That’s far from the point here, but we do think that being yourself, being passionate about something whether related or not and having the right attitude can sometimes get you opportunities that you might not have had access to on paper.

Working these things into an interview alongside your skills and experiences, could set you apart or propel you further in to your career. You could end up being someone’s “Light Bulb Moment”.

And if you are hiring, then we urge you to consider the “Wild Cards”.

I think it could be said that is one of those “human only” things… I’m not too sure that A.I can really reach this light bulb!

Trying to be everything to everyone does not work anymore and sometimes the service and skill that we would normally deliver in our niche can be affected by the fact that we are trying to provide services that we do not have the expertise for.

 

Could having the right working culture influence the positive growth within businesses and encourage collaboration across the community? Surely that way everyone gets to play to their strengths, and everybody benefits? Most importantly the end users/customers/clients.

We had a chat with Marcus Wincott Marketing Manager at Media Lounge and Chapter Director of Startup Grind Bournemouth all about driving collaboration and where e-commerce fits into that concept.

We will delve into the ideas surrounding nurturing a company culture, owning your ‘own space’ in the market and how you then use the power of social media to back this all up.

The future is bright for collaboration and ecommerce, let’s delve into it with Marcus.

 

Culture – Let The Team Do The Talking

 

We see this word A LOT. As Marcus quite rightly says “I think some people think if you get a ping pong table and some funky wall graphics that’s all you need, that’s your culture nailed, you’ve smashed it.” Perceptions are short lived, your beer fridge isn’t going to help you when your staff are all overworked and unhappy and as a result, the work your agency does is suffering. Culture by definition means “a way of life” not a few fun gimmicks that you can throw in to appear to have an understanding of what people / employees nowadays are looking to get from the work they do.

Your Instagram stories may tell the world one thing, but the hours your staff work can paint an entirely different picture. This can be downfall a for your workforce, leaving them feeling exhausted. Marcus stresses that there can be a change, we just need to move away from rigidness and outdated ideals.  “There was this meritocracy [at a previous agency] applied to staying late, but at Media Lounge we actively encourage staff not to work late because ultimately you have to get the work life balance right and we’re probably not managing our workload properly if we feel we have to work late. Also, you just shouldn’t – it’s not healthy.”

This will look different in every company, but making a culture successful and a team work together is about playing to individual strengths  “When meeting with my team about direction and strategy, I’ll have my own ideas for content and advertising budget and stuff, but I won’t have it formulated because everything has to be discussed with my team because they have to deliver it. I don’t force ideas upon them, but instead let them steer the strategy, change the way they work and be flexible in order to achieve our goals.”

 

How Do We Want To Work, Really Though? 

 

More and more of us are now talking about a better work life balance and having a more Holistic approach to this. However is it really achievable to implement flexible working on a large scale and can every business achieve it?

Marcus sees some positives and negatives in this approach. “Some of the best work we do is when we are all in a room together talking about a project and chipping in which you can’t do if you’re all remote. But for some tech businesses, remote staff works better, some of which don’t even have a HQ.”

Or maybe it needs to be an overhaul about how we work and spend our hours working. “I get it, I think it could be more about bits of remote working, side hustles, and people generally working less hours in a normal job so they have time for all the rest.”

 

 

“I think people still want a baseline salary but increasingly, they also want the flexibility to run a side hustle or a meet up group or something else that they’re passionate about.”

 

 

If we’re going to take this collaborative approach to the next level, maybe this is where we turn to next, where our teams work less hours and pursue passions outside of their 9-5. Could this make for a happier more productive workforce despite less hours in the office? Marcus certainly feels the benefit of this mutual trust between him and his employer and is able to watch his side hustle grow. He is the Chapter Director of Startup Grind Bournemouth which is a series of events for local Entrepreneurs, “Our commitment to the global Startup Grind brand was that we would hold an event every month and since September 2018 we’ve done that. Our only goal is to educate inspire and connect entrepreneurs in our local area to make the startup journey, a less lonely and scary one.”

 

Collaboration In Our Communities 

 

As our community opens up more, and we nurture and support each other’s ideas and smaller business plans, our guards lower and ‘competition’ suddenly becomes less of a threat.

After a few years in London, Marcus reflected on his return to Bournemouth and his surprise at the change. “The extremely active and open meet up an event scene here, just would never have happened 10 years ago. I think the collaborative nature of the digital community here has grown, and it’s because everyone is less guarded now.”

“When I came back from London there was still some of those big names knocking about like BBD, Adido, RedWeb but they were very different, they looked different. They have got their niche and the thing they do and nobody these days claims to do everything.”

The term ‘jack of all trades’ comes to mind but people are not fooled by this anymore. There is a place for’ say yes and learn how to do it when you get there’ but as a strategy this has been proven to fail and these failures do not go unnoticed.

Marcus went on to say that often Media Lounge liaise with agencies that offer similar services, because they know what they’re good at and when a project comes up, if they know they can’t give their 100% they’ll pass it on to the right person or business that can.

“Now times gone on, there is somewhat of a karmic feel to things where kindness and support come back around.”

“The most important thing should be the outcome for the client. Holistically it creates a much better idea of trust.”

 

Online Community And Buying From Those You Trust

 

When we’re pitching to our clients, trust is a key factor in conversion. As we’ve seen the rise in Social Media, Instagram particularly, the term ‘influencers’ is now part of our everyday lingo.

A new feature is on the horizon which we believe could change the face of communities online, making them more authentic. It also opens up the spectrum for the side hustle that is micro influencing.

Individuals within these smaller online communities are now going to be able to purchase directly from their favoured micro influencers posts on Instagram “They are now taking it a step further, so you can now purchase in app. That’s powerful. I think it will make the whole influencer trend more accountable and so-called influencers will have the opportunity to prove the ‘influence’ they have over their communities. Or not.” It’s no surprise that one person having millions of followers and getting paid to post a picture of themselves with a dietary supplement milkshake was going to be short lived. Just like that of a business with a transparent culture, we can see straight through it.

We are hoping this will lead to the rise of powerful and influential micro influencers who are passionate about what they do and have niche, but loyal following. This in turn can be an individual’s side hustle and will help to grow collaboration within our online and offline communities.

At Tru Talent we are lucky to be immersed within a community of experts. Each individual has their own talent, opinion and knowledge. We decided that instead of writing what we thought of the world and the industries we all work in, why don’t we ask them?

This has part of our series of Q&A style articles that we hope will inspire you, educate you, and or empower you.

 

Trisha Lewis

 

 

We had a chat with Trisha Lewis who founded her own Communication Coaching business to discuss what it takes to be a leader and what the big fear of public speaking is all about.

 

 

 

Tru Talent: What is your name and what is your ‘title’?

 

Trisha: Trisha Lewis – Communication Coach – my own business – just me!

 

Tru Talent: A ‘Communication Coach’ can you describe to us what this entails and what a normal day in the life of Trisha looks like?

 

Trisha: I help people communicate better! That’s a bit simplistic I guess – but it is the ultimate goal.  That might mean communicating better with themselves, their team or their audience. Communication is a foundational skill and once you start unpacking what it involves, well – it’s a fascinating gift to unwrap!

There is no such thing as a normal day – which kind of suits me! I have developed good multi-tasking skills and I have a fair bit of energy – even at my age!  I am constantly curious and like the aspect of my work which involves meeting so many fascinating people as well as finding ways to communicate with and grow my network. I rarely say no to an opportunity to get to know someone or brainstorm a possible collaboration.  Oh – and I am also writing a book!  All this means my days have a pretty random quality to them.

However – I do try and put a little structure around the randomness.  If I have a day with no client coaching sessions or company workshops/talks etc… then I will often start early by walking down to my favourite coffee shop – laptop in bag.  I like to work with a little buzz around me rather than silence.  I will then make sure I do at least 30 minutes of business development before getting stuck into blog writing, social media engagement or book writing.

Then there will be days when I have clients coming to my home based office for coaching or I am going out to deliver talks or workshops to groups and organisations. Oh – and some days that mean a very early start or evening trip out for a networking event!

 

Tru Talent: We’ve chatted in the past about this but can you outline what Imposter Syndrome is and how you begin to tackle this?

 

Trisha: I will share with you the definition I give in the introduction of the book I am currently writing!

A nagging feeling of self-doubt that feels real but does not stand up to scrutiny. A feeling that you are on the outside looking in but ‘they’ all have the right to be there. A feeling that if you do not work very hard at being loved, clever and perfect – you will be thrown out into the wilderness by a jeering crowd of haters who have discovered just how useless, bad (or both) you ‘really’ are. A feeling that when people do praise you – they are going to regret it as soon as you leave the room or put the phone down.

 I could delve deep here – but hey – I want people to buy the book!  Having said which I do give a lot of free tips in the various blog posts and videos I share!

In brief – you tackle it by getting real! You equip yourself with a good dose of knowledge about what it is – and what the symptoms and consequences are – and then you use some tactics that involve pressing pause between feelings and actions, talking with others to reveal that you are not alone and ‘bigging yourself up’!

There is no cure – it is not an illness! What you do is become more aware of the signs and quicker at pressing pause!  Again – much more in the book – or for now on my YouTube channel (plug!)

 

Tru Talent: Why do you think that public speaking is such a huge fear for so many of us?

 

Trisha: Ah – again I could go on! So I will try to keep this brief…

Actually I used to be very shy when I was younger – belief it or not!  They do say a lot of actors have a shy streak!

The fear is the same as any kind of fear – fear is a powerful force for all us humans! We are wired to see the negative – it is a survival tool that can get triggered off in an unhelpful way these days! There are rarely sabre-toothed tigers to watch out for.  It is a mind-body thing – and it is far worse when you keep sending signals to your brain that you are afraid – because then your body responds even more – and a viscous cycle is set up!

The main tactic involves getting ‘out of your head’! You need to be present – remember that it is about them not you – and they are not out to get you!

Our biggest fear is often fear of rejection and fear of judgement – again down to ancient wiring! If you acknowledge what is going on and get rational about the reality of the situation (no tigers) you calm you body and brain down!

I also think people get hung up on an idea that they must be like someone else – some version of a good speaker that they have in their head – but isn’t them! The more you try to be like someone else the worse the fear gets.

You also need to be at one with your content – plenty of preparation and a sense of excitement about what you are delivering.

Again – loads of tips on my YouTube channel (did I already mention this?!)

 

Tru Talent: As a member of a community like YATM, do you think these ‘safe spaces’ give a platform for those that wouldn’t normally want to speak or share knowledge?

 

Trisha: Definitely!  I love spaces like YATM.  As the host of events like this it is crucial to create an atmosphere where people realise that no question is daft!

 

Tru Talent: How useful is communication and the understanding of this in the marketing and PR world?

 

Trisha: Massively useful!  Maybe I would say that – but it is true. There are 2 particularly crucial aspects to good communication that are needed for marketing and PR – connection and clarity.  Connection involves resonating with your audience and building trust – and clarity involves the audience being able to ‘get’ your message and know what to do next!

 

Tru Talent: What path have you taken to get you to where you are today? What advise would you give to someone else looking to do something similar?

 

Trisha: Wow! I am old! I won’t give you my life story!  In brief – I have embraced life – the good and the bad.  I have never stopped wanting to learn and I am curious!  When things felt wrong – I changed them and when things felt too comfortable – I took up new challenges!

Whilst I had a number of different mini careers and the job of bringing up a family – I had a constant passion for acting.  It was my career as a professional actor (theatre not TV!) that led me along a random path to various connected opportunities – all involving masses of communication and trust building skills!  I built a good reputation as a speaker on a ‘non-business’ circuit – but decided I wanted to rise to the challenge of using my combined skills and experience in the business world. Just under 3 years ago I took the plunge and up my coaching business. What a learning curve!

I had to be prepared to keep pushing myself over the obstacles and not retreat! I also had to rewire my brain a bit – blending the creative with the business/sales side of things – not easy!

The main constant throughout has been my instinct that offering value, listening and relationship building would be the most effective way to grow – and I am glad to say my instinct was correct.

At Tru Talent, we are truly lucky to be immersed within a community of experts. Each individual has their own talent, opinion and knowledge. We decided that instead of writing what we thought of the world and the industries we all work in, why don’t we ask them?

This has part of our series of Q&A style articles that we hope will inspire you, educate you, and or empower you.

Steele Raymond

 

 

We spoke to Lee Taylor the Business Development Director at Steele Raymond about how business development has changed and why Bournemouth is great.

 

 

 

Tru Talent: What is your name and title?

 

Lee: Lee Taylor, Business Development Director at Steele Raymond LLP Solicitors

 

Tru Talent: What does your day to day look like?

 

Lee: Like many people there are no one day the same. Every day is different. My role is to help implement the business strategy across firm. Every day I work with incredible legal teams who are all working exceptionally hard for their clients. Juggling client work and business development can be challenging, particularly when with much of the business development we do, timing is everything. After all clients do come first (quite rightly) so planning and communication is key in my role.

 

Tru Talent: As someone that has worked in Business Development for a long time, do you think the way we ‘business develop’ has changed?

 

Lee: Very much so. I’ve been working in business development and marketing for nearly 20 years now and the change from when I started is incredible. When I first started in legal marketing it came at a time when the restrictions on what law firms could and couldn’t do were relaxed. In a positive way it was like starting with a blank canvas for law firms. That in itself had challenges as a lot of my time went in to encouraging legal teams to step outside of their comfort zone. But even back then people knew when they were being marketing to. I think everyone does. For me the biggest change has been advising lawyers what not to do rather than what to do.

Placing your trust in a law firm is a big decision and one not to be made lightly. The ability to market to the everyone is easier than ever with marketing tools at the end of everyone’s finger tips. But just because you can market to everyone, doesn’t mean you should. Far from it. I take a very responsible view on marketing and business development. Much of my work involves an audience of one. We are now at a time when the one-to-one relationships have never been more important and I actively work with my legal teams to help develop those relationships.

 

Tru Talent: How would you say that Steele Raymond ‘do it differently’?

 

Lee: Our lawyers and legal teams give businesses more than just legal advice. We are an integral part of their business. We listen to our clients to understand their business and work to realise their ambitions. This all goes back to people and relationships. The people that I work with on a daily basis have developed such hard-earned relationships with their clients. Something that they have invested years and even decades in nurturing, getting to understand their client’s business inside and out. We are at heart a people business. And in that we believe that the law needs to have a human side too.

 

Tru Talent: After working in other various places around the country, how does Bournemouth compare to them?

 

Lee: I’d flip the question the other way around and say how do other places I’ve worked compare to Bournemouth and Dorset. My answer is that they don’t compare. I’ve had an amazing start to my career and have worked in some of the UK’s largest cities; London, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Cardiff, Cambridge and Norwich to name but a few. But the thing that makes Dorset stand out the most is the vibrant business community and the work-life balance. Dorset has such a vibrant and friendly business community that in some ways it doesn’t feel like work at all. Because it has such a close knit business community there is also no place to hide and business ethics goes a long way.

 

Tru Talent: Within the industry of lawyers and solicitors do you see a lot of young people coming through? Do you think it’s on the rise?

 

Lee: We have some incredible young talent at Steele Raymond and we work very hard to attract the best legal talent from across the UK. Young professionals are the future of the business so attracting the key talent early on in their careers and nurturing them throughout the business, investing significant time in helping their achieve their career ambitions is one of our key goals.

At Tru Talent we are truly lucky to be immersed within a community of experts. Each individual has their own talent, opinion and knowledge. We decided that instead of writing what we thought of the world and the industries we all work in, why don’t we ask them?

This has part of our series of Q&A style articles that we hope will inspire you, educate you, and or empower you.

Gordon Fong – Co-Owner of Kimcell Ltd.

We spoke with Gordon Fong the Co-Owner of Kimcell Ltd about hosting, servicing and the security of your networks.

Tru Talent: What is your name and your role?

Gordon: Gordon Fong and I’m a co-owner of Kimcell Ltd as well as director of other X-Net consultancy businesses.

Tru Talent: Tell us more about Datacenta Hosting?

Gordon: Datacenta is a Managed Hosting Provider that works with local businesses and government agencies.

Whilst we provide most things when you think of a traditional Internet Service Provider (ISP), such as ADSL lines, domain name registration, email hosting and web hosting, we actually focus on businesses that want to work actively with a technical partner. Datacenta takes on the routine management of their servers and applications 24 hours a day, so they are freed up to work on their business.

Tru Talent: What should someone look for in a web host i.e. reliability, speed, storage, clarity?

Gordon: It comes down to getting the realistic level of service for what your business really needs. We are all different, but very few of us reading this are Amazon and have that level of budget. Nobody should be oversold to though. Are you happy to deal with a web portal, or do you want to talk to real people?

I know that was not a technical answer to the question, but service means a lot more. Competing in the commodity space is not for me.

Tru Talent: What do you see as the main difference for a company that is driven purely by price i.e. happy to pay £50 a year on hosting, as opposed to company that is looking for a much more robust hosting solution?

Gordon: The value of the website and sales that it might bring has to be proportionate to the service spend.

If it is there to provide some contact details, then you don’t need to spend a lot as your Google Business listing will give that if all else fails. You’ve got your Google Business listing, right?

If it is a full e-commerce website that is pulling in tens of thousands of pounds per month, then even paying a few hundred pounds per year hosting doesn’t match the importance of it to the business.

Things fail. Google fails, Amazon fails, Facebook fails, there is a risk of failure no matter how large that business is. Microsoft’s Azure platform failed that then took out a load of high-profile websites.

With that in mind, be prepared, have options with different suppliers.

Tru Talent: How do you look at website security today? Do you see the UK in a vulnerable space?

Gordon: I don’t see the UK as especially different to anywhere else. I will say that security is an on-going process and needs continual attention just like updates your desktop computer or your smartphone. Don’t assume when you have taken delivery of a website or have set it up yourself then that is it.

Installing an SSL Certificate so you get a nice green padlock when visiting your WordPress website makes it no more secure if you have left a load of old plugins around that you were trialling but decided not to use. That padlock counts for nothing if your admin password is weak or the software is out of date.

Someone has to spend the time to sign up to and read the alerts from the software suppliers that form part of your system. If there is an update, you need to take a backup, apply the update, test it and accept it or rollback if there is an issue. Either you do it, your website supplier does it, or your managed hosting provider does it but there is a time and cost associated with that.

A plain web hosting provider will rent out some infrastructure space but will not know what you do with it or care less, unless it impacts other customers.

Tru Talent: If there is a website that is behaving slowly and loading takes a long time, how much could be down to where it is hosted?

Gordon: It could certainly be down to the hosting infrastructure. If you are on a shared server with tens or hundreds of other customers, then you take your chances and hope they don’t have busy websites at the same time.

It could be that you pay for a guaranteed level of network traffic and computing resources. Or, it could be something with your website application and plugins playing up.

I’ve had instances where one of our own websites was slow at returning pages. We rewrote a database query in a different way and that improved things massively. It’s easy to blame the hardware or throw more CPU at a problem but it’s just as common that developers make mistakes or have room for improvement.

Tru Talent: What is your one tip you would give to a growing company who is looking at a hosting company that is more than just paying a monthly fee to a place they have no idea where they are being hosted?

Gordon: I would say consider what your increasing needs might be as you grow and consider who is going to manage that. It might be someone in-house who performs a pick-and-mix from the Internet every couple of years, or do you want to build a relationship with a supplier that you can have a conversation with, who will gain intimate knowledge of your business and systems, who can then propose more efficient and more cost effective approaches.

Tru Talent: What would your advice be to anyone looking to get into the technology industry like you have?

Gordon: There are plenty of free online services that you can use to create websites and online services. Do it for a personal project or local community that you are part of. Learn some things along the way, no doubt you will make a few mistakes along the way. That all adds to your back story in your job interview.

At Tru Talent we are truly lucky to be immersed within a community of experts. Each individual has their own talent, opinion and knowledge. We decided that instead of writing what we thought of the world and the industries we all work in, why don’t we ask them?

This has part of our series of Q&A style articles that we hope will inspire you, educate you, and or empower you.

raina summerson CEO
Raina Summerson, Agincare Group CEO

We spoke with Raina Summerson the Group CEO at Agincare UK about the care industry, the highs, the lows and moving through the ranks.

Tru Talent: What is your title and could you give us a short summary of what your day to day looks like at Agincare?

Raina: Group Chief Executive – covering all businesses within the group of Agincare companies. Due to the number of and diversity of services we provide, no two days are the same really but essentially my days will cover: looking at current business, considering where we are against budgeted and planned performance and looking to future business development. This activity is all set in the context of our vision, mission and values that underpin the business plan and core objectives. All of it involves a lot of liaison with people inside the business and external partners, such as local authorities, the NHS, our teams and other partners. Also, due to our national presence and scope of business, linking in with regional and national policy work in the sector, for example with professional associations, other large providers and organisations such as the Department of Health and Social Care, Skills for Care, Association of Directors of Social Services and the Local Government Association.

Tru Talent: What do you love most about your job?

Raina: The purpose, the people and the variety. Above all the fact that what Agincare and our teams do makes a real difference to peoples’ lives at critical times and the fact that I get to support and influence that and the wider sector in some way. Also, the feeling of satisfaction of being part of a fantastic team building an increasingly successful and sustainable business that gives employment, development, networks and a sense of place and friendship to around 4,000 people. Small moments of interaction with people who use our services or on talking with our teams are often the highlights of my week.

Tru Talent: How did you get to where you are today?

Raina: I started as a frontline care worker when I was 19, working in a variety of roles covering hospitals, care homes and community. This led me to work for Social services where I was seconded to do my social work training, which I completed in 1997; following further development in this role and achievement of my MA in the evenings, I became a social care regulator for what is now the Care Quality Commission. In 2004, I had the opportunity to join a small but growing family business – Agincare – and the rest is history!

Tru Talent: What is it like working within care? Are there highs and lows?

Raina: I have always been passionate about social care and supporting people, challenging injustice and it’s all I know as a career. There are certainly challenges and resilience is needed both in a personal and business capacity. There is a lot of frustration over the lack of understanding, funding and support of the workforce from government and therefore wider society. Fundamental issues that are causing critical shortfalls in care are simply not addressed and there are consequences that everyone in the sector – workforce and people receiving support services and their families alike – are feeling. That can be hard for people and off-putting. As a care provider or an individual within the sector (in any role), there is a great sense of responsibility. Feeling that you have let anyone down on a personal or professional level, even if not your ‘fault’ is the most difficult part of working in this sector. Offset though by those moments of interaction with people where you can see ‘I/we made a difference’ and the fun, camaraderie and commitment shared in daily work. You can always do something right, do what you do well and always make a difference even within such a difficult system. Overall, I feel amazingly lucky to love what I do and still have such an interest in it after all these years.

Tru Talent: If you were going to give advice to someone that was thinking of starting a career in care, what would you say?

Raina: Go for it and don’t let people put you off! The world is your oyster. There are so many wonderful jobs in the sector, so many different paths for development and something for everyone – values, kindness, compassion and personality are key, the rest might be complex at times but can be learned. Some excel at frontline care work and want to remind providing an essential role there but others develop into team leader, manager roles, head office support roles, nurses, OTs, Social workers or into policy or Directorships. As the current Department of Health and Social Care campaign says ‘every day is different’. People don’t tend to come into it for the glamour or recognition or the money and working conditions, though despite what people believe there are actually many well paid career options in the sector.

So many people hate their jobs, it’s a chore and a way to earn a living. Most people in social care don’t feel that, even though their jobs are tough and they may be tired and want to work different hours or earn more money. If they are still there after a few weeks, they usually love what they do and feel rewarded by it. That’s a great charm of the sector!

Tru Talent: When you made the decision to be a sponsor of the Rock Star Awards (our awards show that celebrates young people across Dorset and Hampshire) this year what was your main reason for this?

Raina: Having attended the last awards, I was blown away by the whole event and stories told. It was a brilliant concept, well organised and a great platform to showcase young people and celebrate what they do – sometimes despite very adverse conditions. This aligned with my own personal and professional experience and awareness of many young people in caring roles doing amazing work or personal caring, who simply get no recognition for this. So, Agincare sponsoring this new ‘Young Carer’ category felt right for us, for the Rock Star Awards and to help raise awareness of care and the stories of caring that are around us all every day.

A business is guided by its decisions and convictions. As it grows the values become a shining light.

Having values means an empowered workforce.

When it comes to instilling a belief in empowerment, this is echoed by packaging and design company Avec UK. A Dorset based business that has seen substantial growth since its origins in 2012 and led by owner Becks Beere and a team of nearly 40 people.

Ex-Rise MD, Angela Piromalli and Becks both discussed the importance of building and promoting a culture that is real and has the ability to attract new team members where everyone has a unified voice.

 

How Do You Build A Company Culture?

 

It is a well-used term when a company promotes the virtues of ‘building a culture,’ but how does a business leader instill this? Becks explained, “When it comes to recruitment, I want people to buy into the business. I genuinely research people and see if they are the right fit from the outset. I will never outsource the recruitment to someone else on the team. This is a company I have built with my own hands. It is my responsibility to nurture and grow this close-knit family.

 

“I have to sell the business to others, just as much as a candidate wants to work with Avec. I want people to buy into me and my company.

 

“Avec is about getting people on board this rocket ship that we are all building. I want people to be a part of it, not a cog in a faceless business.”

 

Angela highlighted the importance of both candidate and employer having a mutual understanding. “Companies find strong talent by not sitting on their laurels. Both sides have to sell themselves. When candidates and clients are both on the same side of the road, not heading in opposite directions, it comes down to one simple trait, open communication.”

 

The Charter That Everyone Dances To

 

The importance of communication is something that is part of Avec. They have a charter that each member of the company refers to and comes back to. Becks says, “Whilst we all know what the business feels like, can we put it into words?

 

“It is important to communicate what we will succeed in and what challenges lie ahead. The team all have an active role to play. As well as the grander vision, the smaller things matter too, such as no one is allowed to huff in the workplace and everyone puts their empty plates, bowls and cups in the dishwasher. It is something we expect from each other.

“Any company that is attracting new employees need to stand up and say, ‘this is us, is this you?’”

 

The Avec charter is used as a tool for performance measurement. It is there to inform decisions and for the entirety of the team to recognise what they signed up to.

 

Trust In The Employer

 

According to the Association of Accounting Technician’s (AAT), the average UK employee will spend 3,515 full days at work over the course of their lifetime. Angela stated, “People spend a huge proportion of their lives at work. Businesses having transparency means that everyone needs to know what they are signing up to. Having something such as the Avec charter means there is alignment between the business, its responsibility and its values.”

 

Building a base for development, support and growth is a key part of a business that has longevity. People are now looking more than ever at businesses to lead and create a sense of place.

 

According to the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, this report looks at how much the public trust government, media and business. The latest 2019 report points to the vital role that companies play.

Within the study, people place more trust in their companies than in political leaders. There is a notable shift in trust to the relationships people have within their control, most notably UK employers.

When it comes to mutual trust, this is something that Avec has in abundance. Becks highlights, “Business owners need to put the emphasis on their team to discover and find their own answers. Perfection is not the only solution. I want people to succeed they need to be supported.

 

“We found out that people are not necessarily motivated by money. Every two years we profile the business and the team. From our own studies, we can see that people are motivated by security, a sense of validation and encouragement to be creative. It is the responsibility for a business owner to have a responsibility for others, this is how trust is earned. We also could see what demotivates the team. The majority do not like public recognition.”

 

What about the future of an expanding company? Becks concludes, “I will give everything away for others to provide direction. However, I will not give away the customer relationship and the most precious resource, finding the right people. The company culture is one that has to be protected and championed.

 

Conclusion

 

If a company has values, they truly have to live them. This is something that Avec UK truly believe in.

 

It all comes down to the behaviour of how a company presents itself to the outside world and the obligation it has to those who work within the business.

 

Having values is more than a buzzword and something that you shout loudly on LinkedIn. It is the groundwork for a robust company culture that stands the test of time and to remain continually relevant to those that have a continual touch point with a company.

At Tru Talent we are truly lucky to be immersed within a community of experts. Each individual has their own talent, opinion and knowledge. We decided that instead of writing what we thought of the world and the industries we all work in, why don’t we ask them?

This has part of our series of Q&A style articles that we hope will inspire you, educate you, and or empower you.

We spoke with Maria Seabright the Finance and HR Director of Greendale Construction to ask her a little bit about how she got into what she is doing now and how they are shaping the world of construction for young people in our area.

Tru Talent: What is your name and what is your role at Greendale Construction?

Maria: My name is Maria Seabright and I am the Finance & HR Director.

Tru Talent: How did you get into the construction industry? Did you work your way up to the role you are in today?

Maria: Previously to joining Greendale Construction I was working in the waste disposal industry which worked alongside the Construction industry.  I wanted to change careers and answered an advert in the Bournemouth Echo for an Admin Assistant / Receptionist (I still have the original advert in my personnel file!).  So on the 1st October 1997 I joined Greendale Construction.  My role was to answer the phone, and to provide admin and secretarial support.  When I joined the company their turnover was £1m.  As the company grew my role within the organisation grew.  I started doing the accounts (which were originally outsourced) so also became Accounts Manager.  In 2000 We moved into larger premises and engaged more staff so again my role changed to Office Manager.  In 2009 we moved to Old Generator House where we now have 19 admin/senior managers based in the office and the number of staff that we employ grew to 50.  On the 1st January 2013 I was promoted to Finance & HR Director at the same time Andy Musselwhite was promoted to Contracts Director.  This now meant that the company had 4 directors on the board.  I was so honoured and privileged to be asked to become a Director of this great company that I had seen go from strength to strength.  I have now been with the company 22 years this year.

Tru Talent: As great sponsors (and believers!) of the Rock Star Awards, how do you make your workplace inclusive for young people starting out?

Maria: We strongly believe that we have a responsibility as an organisation to train for the future of the industry – this means that we are very active in recruiting apprentices.  Apprentices can be for various trades; site carpentry, bricklaying or Painting & Decorating.  We also engage Graduates where the company financially support any university fees, meaning that they can study for a degree without having to get into debt, and ensure that every apprentice / graduate has a 1-1 mentor that helps them with their training.  We also offer work experience placements for students (majority being of school age) – this gives them an insight into what actually happens on a construction site or within a construction office if it is a career that they wish to embark on.  We interview every student that applies for works experience as we believe that this gives them valuable experience in attending an interview with an employer.  It also allows us to see what the student wants to gain out of their works experience so we tailor their training to reflect this.   Because of the number of graduates / apprentices that have trained / qualified with us over the years we know that they make great mentors for the other young people coming through the company and we encourage ex apprentices and ex graduates to actually mentor some of these young employees.   In 2018 we won the Dorset Business Award for “Developing Talent”.  It was wonderful to be recognised for the great work that we do with developing talent within our organisation.

Tru Talent: From what we know of you, you are a very charitable company and truly believe in giving back to your community – do you think that makes you all more effective as a workforce?

Maria: We do an awful lot of charity work and also working with schools & colleges to promote the industry.  Again we feel it is important to give something back to the community.  We have a nominated charity every year that we raise money for – this charity is voted for by the employees and this is really important as they are contributing / giving something back to who they have chosen to support.  We are also currently looking to introduce some volunteer days within the company – this will be where an employee can volunteer within the community one day a year.  This volunteer day encompasses  our mental health & wellbeing in the workplace policy.  By allowing our employees to give something back and volunteering to help other for a day makes them feel good.

Tru Talent: Do you think the construction industry is slowly becoming more approachable for both men and women?

Maria: More women are becoming more interested in working within the construction industry.  This is very evident when I am attending careers events at schools & colleges as more young ladies approach me to ask about working in the industry, be it becoming an architect, or working on site, or learning a trade.  I do think that employers within the construction industry are now more open to engaging women within the industry.

Tru Talent: What advice would you give to a young person looking to get into directorship one day?

Maria: Being a director to any company is a massive responsibility. It has its good days and its bad days however it is wonderful to be in a position where you can see the company grow and the people around you excel in their chosen profession.  It is hard work and requires total dedication to the business.  It can be stressful but it is how you manage that stress – it is essential to get your work life balance right.  Do things away from the office that help you re-charge your batteries so that you have the strength the tackle each day head on.  A business is only as good as the team around you to make sure that you employ the right people that will embrace the company ethos and who all work in the same direction to make the company bigger and better.  Be a director that is approachable – always have an open door policy for your staff to talk to you if they have any concerns or problems.  Share your business plan with all your staff, that way they all know what you are trying to achieve as a business and they will be working towards the same goal.