I’ve always believed that Respect and Psychological Safety is the key foundation for high performing teams.
The Season 2, Ep 5 of my podcast is out: I speak to Paul Harris, Founder of Coacto | Salesforce.com Consultants about his journey, about resillience, about people.
We talk about how he has invested in young talent by hiring apprentices like Charlotte Townsend through LDN Apprenticeships, and why that has been so rewarding. The investment in time and energy has not been insignificant, but the results have been phenomenal.
I can see the formula for long lasting success as a #SalesforcePartner, by:
- Hiring young talent
- Investing time and energy into supporting and nurturing the whole team
- Laying the foundation for strong culture, centred around people by offering respect and deep care for people.
I had such a great time talking to Paul, and can see why his company is going from strength to strength.
Check it out below!
Pei Mun Lim 0:05
Hello, and welcome to another episode of OnThePeiroll, my podcast where I talk about consulting, project management, leadership, Salesforce, running great teams delivering great projects. And these are the key topics that I talked to with mine yesterday, who is Paul Harris, he runs correcto. Out and coach vault, it’s not quite as thick is actually very beautiful. It’s very close to the lakes, down here in England. And we talked about on this particular episode, because there are two, we talk about giving new talent a chance to thrive and grow in the Salesforce ecosystem. We know how difficult it is to attract new talent. And today’s episode, we actually go quite deeply into how his company has given opportunities to the apprentices or the young people looking to make a mark in the Salesforce world, especially in consulting. So I really enjoyed conversation. And I hope you do too. Thank you.
Hello, Paul. Good morning. And welcome. Welcome on my podcast called OnThePeiroll. How are you today?
Paul Harris 1:40
I’m really good. Thank you very much. Yeah, I am generally sort of a sunshine optimistic kind of person. So you know, even if I can reach up and touch the clouds, or it’s pouring down with rain, I tried to just sort of bring a little bit of sunshine to myself and those around me. So yeah, that’s really good.
Pei Mun Lim 1:58
Fantastic. I think I think that goes a long way, especially nowadays, knowing the pandemic and everyone’s got this general, what did Adam Grant called it languishing off the moods for so many reasons. I think having such a great mindset and attitude does a lot to the people around you. So we touch on that in a bit. Thank you for your time, what I’d like to start with is, I’d like you to tell us the story of how you got to where you are today, which is the founder of corrector. And all the stuff that you’ve learned along the way you can start at any point, but I would just really love to hear your journey.
Paul Harris 2:44
Okay. Yes, thanks. So it’s always good to reflect back on a journey. It’s not something you do very often unless you’re writing a CV or maybe looking at your LinkedIn profile. But yeah, happy to do that. I mean, I started out my career as a software developer, and I graduated with a degree in geology and computer science, and I wanted to go into development. But as I went through my career, I gravitated closer and closer towards customers. And to eventually ended up in a in a sales role, in fact, which is where I got my first experience of Salesforce, but it was really around trying to, I guess, find my niche, find, you know, my wife got a book called, What color’s your parachutes. And you know that the significance of that only really becomes apparent when you’ve, you’ve been working for a few years because you realize that you’re good at some things, you’re great at other things. Not so good, although to enjoy others. And for me, it was really about trying to find what my parachute was. But I didn’t realize that until probably fairly recently, actually. Around the time of starting Calexico, I think I really had a sense of who I was and what I was good at and what I wanted to do and what he wanted to create the collapse so and it was really bringing together all the threads or all the learning. So I’d had starting out in my career as a developer, working on a variety of software development projects, and then moving more into technical pre sales roles. And ultimately, I moved out to the US for a while as a pre sales engineer working for a software development tools company. And whilst I was there, you know, I met some amazing people I lived out in San Francisco, it was just it was a blessing heaven to to live there for for a while and to meet all these exciting people live in such an exciting place. And it gave me I think, a real lust for life as well. And not that I didn’t have that before but reinforced those positive messages. I think sunshine really helped to but around that sort of timeout I was exposed to you European development project was looking at like a platform trying to build a platform into which organizations could support their business processes, you could write tools to that platform, you could run your business on that platform. And it was a research project that didn’t really take off in a way that was expected. So when I was introduced to Salesforce, move back to the UK and worked for a couple of organizations, and ended up working for another software tools company, that were based out of San Francisco in San Diego, and this was probably around sort of 2000 2001, as the Salesforce is in its very embryonic stages, then sales director came into one of the meetings and SR found this great technology, this is it, this is the future. This is this is really what’s going to revolutionize our business and our engagement with customers. And it was what came, what is it, let’s see it. But it was kind of rolled out just by big, right technology, figure out how to use it. And I was responsible for the international distribution channels of the business. So I had all of Europe had Asia, Pac, parts of South America is my sort of area of responsibility. And I then use my development expertise to configure Salesforce and then in a very embryonic way to support that business need to support channel management to support partners to support remote sales pipelines and to do all the reporting consolidated back so I could have him present it to the person that I report to, to the VP of sales and to give him that consolidated view. So I started out with the Salesforce as a user. But because of my technical background, I was able to align what I needed to support what I did with what Salesforce provided. And I built a whole bunch of things. And amazingly, the organization kind of, you know, they had they had this plan for adoption, but it didn’t really quite get off the ground. And then they were looking at what I was doing this and that’s working really well can we do that. So they then adopted the structures that I’d put together the processes I put together for my part of the business and then rolled it out across the rest of the business, which was quite flattering. For me, I didn’t get any recognition for it. But I was worried about the recognition, it was the fact that I created something of value, that was then a value to somebody else. And towards the the end of my time with that organization, I realized I had a hunger for doing something of my own. And I crossed paths with a colleague that I used to work with when I was a software developer working on that embryonic platform that was part of the European research project. And he said, Look, I’ve got great idea for a company, but I need somebody to give that a shot window. And I need somebody to help them put the systems in place for that conference. Okay, I’m not for that. So we started this company, it was a payroll and employment structure company that provided a legal structure to freelancers, contractors, and so on. But the interesting thing was just hadn’t had that great experience with Salesforce. So realized the operational hub of the business was about managing people and about managing information. And so I said to him, I said, Look, I’ve got this great technology that I’ve just used, why don’t we try and adopt that, and build the business around that we can use leads and accounts and contacts to manage all of our customers and new information coming into the business. And we did. And we made it the operational hub, we built interfaces to a timesheet and expense system, we had exports of data to an accounting system, the whole variety of things, this is back in sort of 2004. So again, Salesforce is probably four or five years old at this stage. So the kinds of capabilities we’ve got today in the platform didn’t exist. So what we didn’t have available to us, we just built it if we needed it. And that worked really well for you know, for six or seven years. And then I decided that the company was running me and I wasn’t running the company. And then it wasn’t really aligning with my passions and my growth and the learning that I wanted, wanted to get it became a became a carrying around the heavy pack and I wanted to get rid of the pack and just kind of kind of liberate myself and then follow my, my path. You know, I think I’ve started to recognize what color my parachute was at that point. And having gained all this technical expertise and knowledge and I had a strong commercial understanding. I’ve worked in sales and channel management for some time, I realized that those are the kinds of qualities that might make a good consultant. And actually, that’s kind of what I’ve been doing for that organization. So it In 2011, I took the brave step out into a big new world of contracting and consultancy and started to, you know, sell my wares, sell my stuff, not sell myself, what I mean, sell my expertise, and started to work in a number of projects in an independent fashion. And that became a very natural thing to do. Because I think the experiences I had had, you know, living out in the States, having my own business and the other sort of cumulative experience that you build up as you go through your career, really put me in great, great stead because I realized I could talk to anybody from the CEO, down to the developer, because I had an understanding of their perspectives. And that worked really well for me. And I consulted for a few years, I passed through the doors of a couple of consultancies, when they had heard off more heard about what I’d done and said, I would really like to hire you. So I worked for a couple of sentences. And that really gave me a really strong foundation in kind of the infrastructure, the engagement for delivery structure, the processes, the project delivery, because previously had been either a team of one or part of a team with all that provided to me.
And then, as luck would have it, the last consultancy I worked for back in 2015, I think it was decided that Salesforce wasn’t for them, they’d acquired the previous consultancy I was working for, and they wanted to be able to Salesforce practice, but it hadn’t quite worked out in the way that they’d envisage. And then I’d worked with them to grow the business, I thought it was going really well. But they just wanted to stick to the knitting wanted to stick to their core, a core managed services. And so they said, Look, you know, we can’t continue this pool. And I said, well, great, I’m okay with that. Because you show yeah, hey, I’m fine. If you give me all the customers that I’ve managed to bring on board in the last couple of years, I’ll take all of those for you. So you don’t have to do anything with those or find anybody to manage them. And you can let me go. And I’ll create a company to service those, those customers. And that’s what I did in that that’s where the idea of correcto was born. And it was, for some people, it would have been a very dark moment, a very devastating moment to be told up. So we don’t need you any longer. But for me, it was it was like a sunrise, it’s just this opportunity opening up in front of me. And in the last three or four months of working there, I just put in place everything that I needed to start collecting. And of course, on day one, it was just me, but I’ve been lucky enough to take on this customer base take on a couple of opportunities that we’re looking for Salesforce consultancy, and I started it August 2016, and have a look back in I just feel everything that I’ve learned along my career has really sort of crystallized into this opportunity to grow correcto over the last five years, and it’s been a, it’s been an amazing journey. I’ve met some amazing people, I’ve learned unbelievable amounts of things and acquired lots of knowledge. And it’s just, it’s great. I know. And I mean that genuine, it’s really, really great. I really enjoy it hugely. And now to bring on people who create team, vision and culture. So there’s also been really fascinating it to some extent, it takes me away a little bit from the stuff that I really enjoy, which is engaging with customers, designing and architecting solutions to their, their challenges and their business problems. But as an overall recipe, a mix of ingredients, it’s wonderful, I really, really enjoy it.
Pei Mun Lim 14:05
That was really quite an interesting story to hear, and especially the last twist at the end of the story, which was how you have managed to turn something as you say that could potentially knock someone off in and see such a huge opportunity in that. That’s Have you always been like this in the way that you approach things to.
Paul Harris 14:36
That’s a very insightful question. I guess those that those kind of qualities are there, whether they surface or not, or how they come out, I think to some extent depends on the circumstances. So I would say yes, a very good friend of mine. quite a quite a famous musician, who I’ve known for for a number of years, said to me once Um, you know, you said you’ll be successful at whatever you turn your hand to. And this is probably six years ago, before actually before, correct. So, and I thought about that and examining that statement and realize that I will always try to make the best of whatever is thrown at me. So I tried to see the sunshine rolling and when the clouds are closing in, or the rains falling, because it’s about the steps forward, that you take are the most important Pullman’s rather than reflecting back on what’s behind you, or what didn’t happen, or what should have happened. It’s about what you do next. So I think I’ve always been, what’s next kind of person? And I think it’s probably fair to say, No, I’m, I’ve got strong perseverance and good resilience. And so when that thing happened, I realized I wasn’t going to get to let that beat me. And there been other events in my life. And when I reflect back on this and things, both professionally and personally, where they might have really knocked somebody for six and could have could have ended up in the gutter somewhere. But I always felt that I was determined enough to say, well, that’s not going to happen to me, okay, this has happened. Take the learning, and take that step forward. And that’s always what I’ve done, I guess. And that’s, that’s how I approached this new startup. And so I’ve never started a consultancy, before, I’ve had a couple of companies previously, including a live music promotion company where I met the artists that I just referred to. So I think I’ve always had that diversity and interest, to do things and try and be successful things. And also not to be knocked off my perch, you know, because there have been a few few attempts for various things to knock me off my perch, and I won’t be knocked off my perch might stumble and wobble a little bit as we all do, as we go through life’s journey, but for me, it’s really about taking those positive steps forward. And I think it’s probably also about recognizing what those steps might be, you may not, you may be taking a step into the unknown, which I was, when I started collecting, I’ve worked for a couple of consultancies for maybe a couple of years. And someone might say, well, that doesn’t give you enough. But that’s right, that you probably doesn’t want and didn’t give them enough. But I knew that I had enough about me, and enough knowledge and understanding to take that, probably, for some people very brave step. So I’ve really give this a go. And you know, where I was in my life, you know, it had to be successful, you know, I have got wife and family to support. So that creates a very compelling need to be successful at what I was doing that in necessity is the mother of invention. And the mother of invention was with me around that time and continues to be with me, but I think it’s also about I like the idea of making my own weather. All right, so it’s raining, bring about the sunshine and try try to think optimistically and positively and I try to sort of when things aren’t going, according to plan, look doing, just stand still look at what you need to do, then take that step forward. Because if you don’t take that step forward, you become almost like paralyzed, and you don’t learn to deal with with those challenges and those issues. Really, whether it’s, you know, I’ve run out of coffee, and I need to run to the shops, I’m desperate for a cup of coffee, or whether it’s, you know, I really need to get some more people in to help deliver this project. Those are equal challenges depending on where you’re at in your life that is about how you face those issues. Well, it’s pouring down with rain, and there’s, you know, there’s 110 mile an hour winds, but really need a cup of coffee, so I’m gonna run out and get the coffee, or, you know, and it’s gonna get those people or whatever it is, I think it’s having that positive outlook that really helps take those steps forward. But also, it’s also about, you know, I guess, as you I think referring to earlier, it’s about bringing people around you and touching the people around you. And in those ways, because I think if you can make a positive difference to somebody in their day, make them smile, make them feel better, support them, help them, you know, that that for me is as valuable as winning a new customer and delivering a successful project because I’m adding value in terms of what I do.
Pei Mun Lim 19:32
Amazing. So, I’d like to hear a bit more about your current baby, which is correcto. So tell me a bit more about it. The number of people you’ve got that because I can see that. They bring you a lot of joy, this creation and the family that you’ve built, and I know a few people there. And so I’d like to hear a bit more about how you’ve built this. The peace People that you have in their in how you came about creating the culture that that you have there?
Paul Harris 20:11
That’s a great question. I think when I started the company, I wanted to make sure that it represented my values and who I was. And I, I support a number of charities, and I believe in in total respect, and equality and diversity, all of those things, I think you have to, if you live your life in that way, then it is important to run or anything associated with in that way too. And I wanted to bring all those values into the business. And it’s really about how you treat people. So for me, the number one part of my company is the people that work with me, you know, be a bit the people that are employed by me, or the people that are within us, some, some outsource people, some subcontract people, all of those people, they all get treated in exactly the same way, which is with 100%, respect, all of the time, and everybody has a voice, and everybody has a part to play. And whether I am the owner of the company, or whether I’m a team member working on a project, everybody gets treated, treated in the same way. And I really wanted to create the sort of division and the values and the culture of the company based on that principle of respect. And I think from respect, I think everything else follows diversity follows from that equality follows from that, because we have that respect. That is, for me, that’s the foundation stone for culture. But I think ultimately, everybody wants to be respected and recognized and everybody wants to feel engaged and loved and part of a family. And I think those are intrinsic human qualities. And I think if you engender those, then you create that Benioff has tried to do with Salesforce. So this idea of ohana and family is hugely important. And I feel blessed that actually, I think that way, too, I’m not borrowing his idea, I’m just leveraging the fact that he’s obviously bigger company than me, and he’s got more of a voice than I have. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t make a difference in my own in my own world, as well and align it to some of the things that Salesforce is doing. But I think they’re doing some really great things around sort of vision and values and equality, and diversity also around the environment. And all suddenly the recent thing we’re talking about around team Earth, which I think we should be focusing on in planet that we were inhabiting right now. And whilst it may be important to reach out to the stars, I think that the change needs to happen right where our feet are standing today. And investors in high priority things that we need to be addressing, I kind of feel that some of those have been lost. And that’s good to see them pursuing those. And actually, we try and do that too. And it’s that can be about our approach to people, diversity can be our approach to environment, it can be our approach to just keeping fit and moving more so that we know we can create the right kind of positive environment to work in. But for me, it’s also about recognizing that this idea of leaving your personal life and your problems when you walk to the office door, is not something that ever sat well with me because I don’t think it’s actually easy to do that. I think if you’re troubled by something in your personal life, you’re gonna bring it into the office, because you’re gonna be carrying it around like that pack I was referring to earlier. And you need to support people through that. And that’s one of the things that we really try and do amongst the team is if somebody’s got some challenges, and a few team members have had some challenges recently with one thing or another is to support them through that it’s not to question why or what it’s how can I help you? What can I do to make that better? How can you make your your life easier at this point in time? What can I take away from you to reduce the worry, and the stress that you might have about this this thing that’s happened and I think when you provide that nurturing, engaging infrastructure, people gel really to gel with they’ve come together as a unit and you then create almost that, that they become the culture and become part of the culture and help grow the culture. So it means it’s not all about me because I don’t want it to be about me am I may have initiated that but I want it to take on a life of its own and for that identity in that culture to grow. So Those are really very strong values to me somebody remarked recently, your question is very timely, because we’ve been looking at how we
make that more apparent, I guess, in our identity and who we are how we do that in our app exchange listing, for example, how do we do that without engagement with customers? How do we do that with with the delivery projects, and I think just being the way that you are, representing our culture, just that naturally kind of comes out is what we’re finding, but I think we probably need to make a bit more of that. Because for us, you’ve got to look holistically at the world, you’ve got to look holistically a person, the personal side, the work side, and so on. And then I think we’ll get the best out of everybody.
Pei Mun Lim 25:50
Thank you for that. Just as an extension to that. So you’re talking about people being the most important thing, one of the challenges that a lot of partners face moments resourcing, finding the right talent, and I know that you’ve, you are a strong proponent of the apprenticeship scheme. So I’d love to hear a bit more about that. I know you’ve got two new apprentices to talk to me about the whole process in how it’s working for you right now.
Paul Harris 26:19
Yeah, that’s a good question. Yeah, there is a resource crunch in industry, right? Now we know that. And that’s partly because of the rate that Salesforce is growing and, and trying to bring talent into the ecosystem, you know, that the Salesforce is growing faster, and the ecosystem is growing faster than the talents coming in. So that that creates a challenge. And when I looked at resourcing various positions with giving the business I think almost everybody, or most of the people in the core team is brought into the ecosystem rather than taken in from somewhere else in the ecosystem, because that ecosystem needs to grow. But it can only grow if we bring people in from the outside of Salesforce seven on many occasions. And I also wanted to try and give people opportunity. So one of my engagement delivery managers had an IT background in managed services and development. But those are transferable skills. So yeah, he doesn’t have you know, he has Salesforce certification, but no Salesforce experience, can we have bags of experience that I felt really add value to what we were doing. And so we hired him, and it has been absolutely fabulous for us. But equally trying to as the company grows, and we get more customers and the projects get bigger, I felt that I wanted to offer opportunity to other people. And in my previous role, I had some Managed Services Employment company, we took on a few young people as apprenticeships. And it works really well. Because for some of these people, nobody given the opportunity, you know, they couldn’t get a job because they didn’t have an experience. And we couldn’t get an experience because nobody would offer them a job. And I felt that aligned with trying to grow the company and bring people into persistent apprentices would be a great way to do that. So we we spoke to LD and apprenticeships in London, about when and what we were looking to do. So yeah, we can help you. And long story short, we engaged a lady called Charlotte back at the end of April last year. And it’s really wonderful to see you know, somebody that has no experience of working in this space flourish and grow as we as we try to provide her the right support and infrastructure to acquire the knowledge to give her an opportunity to work with with customers and to grow and expand her her skills. And it’s something that we’ll do again very soon, I think but we’ll take on another 10 person gives them an opportunity. And we know we have to balance that because of course, that does require a significant effort and resource on our side to do that. But I think it’s the right thing to do. And Charlotte has really grown into into the role. And you know, it’s nice to have people that are challenging you or bringing you ideas or that youthful exuberance is a wonderful, wonderful thing to have around you. A few months ago we took on another apprentice chapter previously worked for one of the big banks and he was a casualty in one of their downsizing operations as they moved some operations offshore. And I think partly because of his age and impossible in his location. Again, nobody would give him a chance. So here’s somebody that’s got from 25 years it experience working for a big bank, work for some big product Get some big deployments, lots of experience, no experience of Salesforce. But I felt that and I’ve known him for, for a while through some of the music stuff that I do. And I could see that he was struggling, I thought, You know what, I think we can offer him a chance we can we can embrace him as part of the collector team, we can put him on an apprenticeship, which is unusual for it for an older person who’s got an apprenticeship and it’s perfectly viable to use that as a cross training vehicle. And he’s been with us now for about three months. And it’s great to see his confidence growing, his engagement growing and his contribution increasing. So he just needed a chance. And that’s what we’ve done. So for us, it’s been a really positive experience, I think one that we’d recommend everybody look at really give give people a chance and whether they’re young or older, and then then work with them. Because I think the results for them and and for the company can be can be incredible. But again, just gonna give people that perhaps that opportunity. And if you do, you’ll find that they’ll grab it with both hands. And for us, it’s been it’s been it’s been, it’s been great. It does take a lot of energy, it does take a lot of resource.
But that’s just about investing in people and investing in a company and investing in ecosystem and it feels right to do that kind of thing.
Pei Mun Lim 31:27
How is this? You know, sort of Salesforce has the talent lines and vet force and a refugee force where they fund and assist these people in getting certification. And then the Talent Alliance are a group of partners who are willing to give them opportunities to interview in, potentially make them an offer. How is that different from apprenticeship?
Paul Harris 31:55
A similar question as those those niches you mentioned, something that I felt that we need to take take a look at as well to see if there because I guess, the vet force folks in their former former military personnel that come out there, they’re on the on civvy street. And they don’t have necessarily any commercial qualifications or industrial qualifications, they’ve got military qualifications. And so they’re trying to cross train people to come into the ecosystem along with some of the other initiatives you mentioned, I think the the overall program is the same, I think it’s just got a different label pay and I think themselves source work, we’re right to invest in programs like that, to give people that may be in minority groups, or people that have less of a voice, or people that maybe don’t feel that there’s any opportunity for them, those kinds of opportunities. And by creating those programs, I think they have really brought water into daily conversation, that there are opportunities there for for people that have come out of the military, for example, where we can provide them these kinds of opportunities. I think the training programs are very similar, and I know that they’re starting to be more of those that are coming on, you know, Heather black supermoms has done an amazing job in you know, encouraging part time people in their part time moms, you know, initially to give them the opportunity to gain knowledge, experience certification, so they can then add value not only to themselves by Phil, they’re contributing and earning, earning money but also then to engage with the organizations be employed work independently. So I think there’s a variety of initiatives in I think this year we’ll focus is exactly the same, it’s giving people an opportunity, it’s finding a vehicle that allows those opportunities to be creative and Salesforce, I think provides some some support to Minnesota apprenticeship organizations as they do for things like that force and so on. And to be honest, I think that’s that’s a key way for for growing ecosystem as well as meeting you know, diversity and inclusion. aspirations and making sure that the ecosystem can grow because it can only grow if new people come into our system. We can’t just keep moving people around from consultancy a to consultancy B to consultants, we see
Pei Mun Lim 34:27
em. Absolutely. This leads on to my next question, which is, I believe that one of the reasons that traders to go straight to this when consult when consulting partners, take on inexperienced Junior consultants and don’t provide them enough support, the mentoring, the guidance, the coaching to actually run projects because the way that we do it As, as consultants quite different from how the end users do this best ways of working this, how best practices, so on and so forth. So one of the messages that I got from one of my students of my master class where I provides consultant training is that she joined a new partner. And she’s been asked to run a Project Discovery on a platform that she was not familiar with. So one of my rants is that a lot of partners don’t invest in the young in junior talent. And from what you’re saying that you have had to put in quite a lot of investment of your time, your team’s time. So obviously, that takes a hit on utilization of your team. I’d like to get a sense. So apprenticeship. They are they’re young, they have, I guess, no Salesforce experience, that’s something that they they come with come up, and no work experience, no job experience. So the understanding about professional conduct about how you dress and how you behave, it’s basically the starting from ground zero. What was the what was the time commitment of your team? Did you make a conscious decision to lower your utilization target for your team say, you know, to whatever that amount is, and how long was that commitment for? So I want to try and get an idea as to the commitment that you had to give these people a second chance to say I’m willing to get to take a hit on my revenue for six months, and take something percentage lower, what was that cost to you? Or the investment that you had to provide?
Paul Harris 37:02
Yeah, that’s a really good question. We certainly recognize that by by taking on the two accounts is that we did that our utilization had to drop because you right, providing the right kind of mentoring, coaching and support infrastructure was vital to their success. And obviously, our success. We were lucky, I think, with with the young apprentice, we took and did have some work experience. And I think that was for us. That was one of the criteria is that this wasn’t to be their first job. We wanted somebody that had some experience. Now, they had no experience of working in a commercial or an IT environment whatsoever. But I wanted them to have had some work experience. And so I think that that really helped the other chap we took on how to proceed when working for them for a bank surplus of 2025 years. But equally, you know, when you’re coming into something new, completely new, whether you’re young or old, it can be quite quite a daunting experience. And so we recognize that it was probably been a it’s probably going to take a 20% hits in terms of our time that we’d need to dedicate on a week by week basis across the team. Now some people might say, that’s really high. That’s the big investment. Can you sustain that? Yes, we can sustain that. But whatever kind of investment you make via email, you can take some money from the bank to to invest in your growth. Take some younger people and train them, to invest in them so that they know that the payback comes later. These are all types of investments. So for me, it seemed I didn’t want to go and borrow money. I didn’t want to give away any equity. At that point in time, I wanted to recognize that we had a way of investing in those people. And we created a framework to provide that mentoring on a regular basis. And it’s been very interesting actually tracking what some of the other apprentices are doing on the same program and how other organizations are, are managing that. And I think if the feedback I’m getting is that we’ve done, we’ve done a good job, because we are trying to Top and Tail everything with that safety net that support infrastructure, that gives them the opportunity to experience learn, maybe make a few mistakes, but equally know that we’ve always got their back, always whatever, whatever the situation or the circumstances have always got their back. And that’s done within a formal training framework that runs over that 18 month period. That means that they get one or two cells for certifications that they get, you know, a internationally recognized business qualification of which Salesforce learning is a part RT. And so we fitted our, I guess, our engagement and onboarding of those people around the framework that was provided to us. But, you know, I’m sure that other folks have done it differently depending on how their organizations are structured. But for us, I think it has been has been a big investment, but it’s investing in their future, it’s investing in our future. And every organization and every person that wants to grow has to make some kind of investment in time, or money or gifting knowledge, or paying forward whatever it happens to be to, to yield that value to yield those, those results to you that growth. And I think question that a couple of people have said to me, since you know, do you did you realize that it would take quite so much energy and effort? And if I’m to be honest, probably not, I think I underestimated how much any energy and effort it would take. But having made that commitment, just like, at the start of the pandemic, I so there wasn’t a furlough anybody, I was going to continue to pay everybody, you know, internal and external, because I felt we had a duty and a moral obligation to those people. And that’s what we did. And similarly, with the investment in these people on the apprenticeship program, we’re committed to making that investment, you know, over that 18 month period with the offer of full time job at the end of that, that assuming successful completion of the program, it just feels right. You know, I think it’s overall saying, well, we’ve got to make the numbers work, the utilization is going to go down, the profit might go down a little bit. But actually, we created something positive, we’re creating something of value. And that that feels right, there was only actually, a couple of weeks ago, I was out with some friends for dinner. And one of the folks who works a very large energy company was was was astonished at what we were doing as a smaller organization. So I don’t really see us doing that even in a large organization, because we’re so focused on doing what we do, we’re not actually really trying to create the value that you’re trying to create in your organization. And that made me feel good, because it made me feel that we’re doing some of the right things. And if for the right reasons, would give people that opportunity for the growth. And of course, you know, there is an element of, you know, I’m looking at investing in the company to grow the company to get payback, because the company pays everybody’s wages ultimately. So it has to it has to be successful.
Pei Mun Lim 42:39
So I just want to dive down a little bit into this. So there’s an offered have a job at the end of 18 months, you are investing time from your team. I know it’s a pain the apprentice during this 18 months.
Paul Harris 42:53
Yeah, we have to pay, pay the apprentice. So there’s a number of aspects to the scheme. So depending on whether you get sponsorship or not. So I think Salesforce did sponsor one of our apprenticeship, apprentices and paid a sum of money to support the training aspects. For the second apprentice, we paid that, and then we have to pay obviously, their salary, you’ll have to provide all the appropriate licenses and laptops and everything else and expenses of traveling. And so they’re considered to be full time employees, they want to on an 18 month contract that the offer is there for that full time position at the end of the 18 months, so yeah, I mean, we have to make that. So there’s a financial investment as well as a time investment in those people, because of course, they’ve got to put food on the table. And who, who would pay that I’m not sure the government would pay that, although clearly with the apprenticeship scheme. They do the government to invest a significant sum of money in funding, the training. It’s part funded by the 80%. I think the government pay, we pay the remaining 20%. And then we pay their salaries and everything else that goes around being a junior consultant in any organization.
Pei Mun Lim 44:16
So you talked about topping entailing if you can get down to specifics, what what what would you what did you do differently with the apprentice that you may not have done with, say a junior hire or any expectations around what they?
Paul Harris 44:36
Yeah, that’s a good question. I think our onboarding process, you know, for anybody coming into the organization, the framework is largely the same. So you took on that marketing person during the pandemic, actually and you didn’t get to meet them for probably four or five months I think and that was that was an interesting exercise onboarding somebody remotely, I’ve never done that before. But recognizing that’s what we had to do, we created an onboarding framework that we felt would support that person being introduced into an organization where they may not know the technology, or they may not know the business space. They certainly need to understand how we operate, what we do, how we do it, and so on. So we created that framework as part of that sort of onboarding during the pandemic. And then we then extended I think, it’s fair to say extended that framework for the apprentices to support their that their technical development and their technical learning their targeting tools, certifications, and the academic side of the apprenticeship. I think particularly, the area that probably differs the most, I think between sort of junior High’s and the apprentices is we have regular check with twice a week check in meetings, we have a meeting at the beginning of the week, where we look at what they’ve got on their backlog or or their list of tasks. We look at what their objectives are, or should be for that particular week. And then obviously, we work with them throughout the week. So if they need any help or assistance, they were always there nobody’s ever really working on their own or collaborating with with other team members. And at the end of the week, we have a reflection meeting, short meeting probably 15 minutes or so longer if required to reflect back on those objectives, what they learned, what went well, what didn’t go well, where they might need some support, where they might need some additional training or learning or coaching. So that we’ve got this bookended mechanism to define the objectives, and then feedback at the end so that we can adjust dynamically almost each week is kind of like a little sprint, really what we’re gonna do, we’re gonna wait, how do we do at the end? Where do we get to what’s next. And it’s, it’s like a sprint, that should be somebody’s like weekly sprints with each of the apprentices. And we record all of these in a, in a document alongside the timeline for that for the entire apprenticeship, so we can track where they’re at, they can track where they’re at, we can see the discussions, we can both contribute to those objectives, setting, and planning and also further reflections. And that’s worked really, really well, because we’re staying very close to these people underneath red flags that might come up in things that we need to address, come up with those meters so that we can mitigate them, we can record them or we can act on them. I think that’s going to become our standard onboarding process, probably for everybody. Clearly, if it’s a very experienced person, we might not need to do that for so long. But I think it’s worked so well for us. That will become the color toe standard onboarding mechanism.
Pei Mun Lim 48:00
Meeting. Thank you. Just one final question on this, before we wrap up, I want to be very mindful of your time it was at a time what’s the size of your company? Because you mentioned this other company that was smaller and said we can’t take on apprentice. So how many people works at torture at the moment?
Paul Harris 48:19
Yeah, so we’ve got, I shouldn’t have a number off the top of my head should and I don’t. So in total, including some of the extended team, we’ve got about 12 people working for us at the moment, we will be growing on that number this year, for sure, we have got some quite a few projects that are lining up quite significant projects for us, and so I’d see it see us adding you know, a few team members over the course of this, this this coming year. So, it just from one person to to having that at that team of no 12. Sometimes it might jump up to sort of 15 Again, it depends on the project. So in one of the things you recognize an organization is that there are there are peaks, and there are troughs. Luckily for us, it’s mostly peaks and peaks on peak sometimes. So that means you have to, to go out to the market, you need to get some some some temporary resources from time to time or lock in some, some longer term resources. And that’s, that’s a balancing act. It’s a challenge that we all face in the sales system. But again, it’s about it’s about creating those opportunities, identifying those people that would have a natural fit into the business but all equally it’s about bringing people in that don’t necessarily, you know, models of need or models of the other people because you want new experiences want new perspectives, new ideas to come into the business. So equally, I’m trying to I’m trying to maintain sort of a 5050 split between male and female It’s very, very hard to do that. We’re not quite there yet. But that is one of my one of my objectives. It’s actually probably in the two months that we do we use the Salesforce v2 framework and that that works well for us.
Pei Mun Lim 50:19
So I mean, you know, what you’re doing is already amazing. And even more so now that I know how many, because I was just talking to an ex colleague who he’s currently at Cognizant, and we’re talking about different size partners and utilization and large and small companies. So for you to take a 20% hit on utilization for a team of 12. It’s massive. And I was speaking to larger partners with about 40 people, and they can’t, like they can’t see themselves doing the kind of coaching and kind of hit on utilization that you currently are doing. So fantastic world. And thank you so much for spending the time with me and telling me the journey that you’ve been on, and in particular, in spending so much time talking about your culture, Coleco, and how you have been investing in the young people and how you’re creating the culture that you so clearly enjoy experiencing and the people around you. Thank you so much more. I really appreciate your time.
Paul Harris 51:26
It’s been a pleasure, Pei. Thanks very much for the opportunity. I really appreciate it. Thanks so much. Thank you