Tuesday, 22 December 2015

We All Write Our Own Story…

So for my last post of the year I thought I would release it on my birthday! Part reflection, but also focused on what lies ahead with a few lessons learned thrown in (or in my case revisited). In regard to Certus don’t worry I am not going anywhere in many ways we have only really just got started!!!

A Year's a Long Time
I often look back to where we as a company were a year ago and reflect upon our journey and the path travelled. I look at the people around me and smile contently that so many bought into our vision and that I have already been able to see them grow and develop professionally. This is a theme I know we will return to time and time again over the next year. Regardless of what happens in the future I strongly believe we have already had a significant impact on their careers to date and as much as they are now part of our story I think it is also true to stay we have equally been part of theirs! Joining an SME and being part of a developing company has its risks as well as rewards and I thank each and every-one of them for being brave, having confidence in the Certus Executive team (Tim, Richard, Ian, Rob, Mary - my thanks) and helping the company to be successful.

Equally for those outside the company that didn’t have faith in Certus  or me as an individual it’s a case of missed opportunity on their part and I point them to the Will Smith quote from the film “The Pursuit of Happyness” - “Don’t let ever someone tell you that you cannot do something. You got a dream, you gotta protect it. When people can’t do something themselves, they’re gonna tell you that you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period”. When someone or as in Certus, a group of people have this mindset; are totally committed; and can actually physically demonstrate success time and time again then my strongest advice is don’t bet against them when the stakes and the bar is raised.

You Write Your Own  Story
The biggest kick I ever get out of running Certus is developing our own talent. I say constantly to our people that they are ultimately responsible for their own career, not me or the company and they need to go and write their own story everyday. We provide the platform and every client interaction is an opportunity for them to excel and also to grow personally and professionally.
For some over time they will also move on to pastures new despite what we do as a company in terms of employee retention this is the natural cycle and order of things. However I believe the experience an individual gets from working with us will benefit them greatly in the future. The experience of working for a fast growing SME is worth its weight in gold.

It all becomes even more exciting when you undertake a client project and you leave a long lasting positive effect on your client’s own people – when you do this and create such a lasting legacy turning clients into customer advocates you really have gone to another level. Maintaining it unfortunately is always the constant challenge. As I have said many times positive customer experience and exceptional customer service delivery are the table-stakes in the Cloud game! If you can't do this, you don't even get to play.

It's Not Just About Work
More closely to home I look at my three children, Megan – 17 and now finding out what life outside of school is truly like; William – 10, whose intellectual capacity (and wit) is growing and expanding at such a rate I just cannot keep track of; and Joseph – 8, Joe will always be Joe, I get the feeling just like the famous “Frank” quote (as in Frank Sinatra), Joe lives in “Joe’s World, and we just all live in it” – a born leader if ever I saw one! (“The Force is Strong In This One” – had to get one Star Wars quote in as well). All are strong willed, highly competitive (wonder where they get that from?) and great kids that I am truly proud of. Another year passes and they begin to write their own story as they start to find their way in the world.

Positive Disruption
Always frustrating when you’re a small company and bound by so many non-disclosure agreements that there are so many good things you want to shout about but can’t, especially when you want your own people to be recognised for their successes. But I am looking forward to the things we can talk about in the early part of the new year and trust me when I say there are definitely more than a few “wow” moments in the news cycle that are going to make people sit up and take notice of us.

As our competitors now start to look to catchup  in the world of the Oracle Cloud, Certus itself will only look to set the bar even higher and "disrupt itself" to continuously move forward and differentiate. Something I know many companies would be to frightened to even consider, however for us this is natural.

Positive Disruption - Absolutely! I always wanted Certus to be a different type of partner in the Oracle Cloud space and it certainly is that. I experienced that first hand when I went to Oracle OpenWorld in California this year and was pleasantly surprised of how many people knew about us on a global scale and wanted to meet me. Not bad for a couple of boys from Guildford, Surrey – hey Tim?

Phoenix Rising
Finally to end the year off for me there was the return to help the Ministry of Justice and revisit where Certus began with the Phoenix Programme. When I go back and get involved in central government projects I go "hands-on" and love being back on the front line and in the thick of it with the Certus delivery teams. Going back to the front line also has the additional benefit of keeping your feet firmly on the ground even if your head is in the Clouds. It's about "keeping it real"!

On 30th October 2016 next year it will be 10 years ago since we sent what was then the HM Prison Service Phoenix Shared Services Centre live for HR and Payroll Service delivery all based then upon on-premise Oracle technology - which unfortunately is rather dated these days, and though now owned by Shared Services Connected Ltd (SSCL) and the story has moved on I will always look back on the original programme with massive affection and with a deep sense of regret, balanced against the knowledge of a truly wonderful project team I had the privilege of leading for 3 years comprising Civil Servants and multiple suppliers that came together and achieved what was considered by some at the time to be the impossible. (you know who you all are!)

All I will say about “Phoenixes” is they, of all mythical animals, symbolise rebirth and I am confident in time there are several more chapters to this story as well. I very much hope the Certus team, myself included, can be part of that story but naturally only time will tell. Inline with this post that will be up to me to write that chapter if the opportunity arises to do so.

However to progress I know you do have to let go of the past and keep moving forward. The only constant is that of change itself. Personally I have always found this extremely difficult especially as my personal and professional past seem to constantly draw me back into the past and consume me. A third of my professional career has been defined by Central Government and South Wales as a geographic location, something I never ever envisaged, and out of all of this Certus as a company was born. Ten years on, 21 Oracle ERP And HCM Cloud customers later, 50+ staff over two geographies and still I feel we have only got started!

Life is hard – fact! and Running a Business is even harder!
Sylvester Stallone says in Rocky Balboa “Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!”

Things no matter how well you plan them both personally and professionally never work out as you expect them too. And sheer will power does not always see you through! even though you hope it will. Things I continue to learn or revisit every single day include, but far from being limited to:
  • Life is about compromise, finding that point and the associated balance is always the challenge; being able to constantly adapt is the secret
  • Having patience is key, timing is everything and sometimes you just have to wait and cannot force the pace
  • Nobody gives you anything, you have to go out there and make it happen
  • You can only do your best, if your best isn’t good enough for some people, then that’s their problem – not yours, so don’t take it too personally
  • Don't beat yourself up - It's the flaws in your character that make us who we are
I have taken great pleasure in posting for the first time from “A Can do Attitude”, “The Power of a Dream”, “Broken Hearts and How to Fall in Love Again” through to “Missed Opportunities” and “Part Time Working Mums”, with a few Elephants thrown in along the way! – I thank everyone who reads my posts, connects with me and all the positive feedback I have received. In some ways this only makes it more difficult in finding new and interesting things to write about, but I have a few ideas for 2016, and it won't surprise many of you there are a few controversial items on the agenda. (smile)

Looking Ahead
So 2016 is the year where for Certus “The Best Is Yet To Come” – so much still to be done and to be proved so be warned for those that follow us and myself it’s going to be a rollercoaster and I cannot wait to write the next chapter of the story. It’s time for disruption and for a Phoenix to rise…

My final words to everyone for 2016 - “Go make something positive happen and write your own story”. For now on a personal note I like to wish all our employees, associates, customers, business partners (Oracle – how could I forget you!), and those who just follow me on Linked in saying a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your families.

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