The countdown to GDPR: What it means for customer communications and how to prepare for the appointe

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The countdown to GDPR: What it means for customer communications and how to prepare for the appointed hour

Johan Hybinette, Chief Information Security Officer at Vonage

For those in customer communications, everything changes on the 25th May 2018. This is the date that the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is set to come into effect, marking a significant change in the way that global businesses manage their customers’ personal information. The regulation introduces serious implications for non-compliance – including sanctions of up to €20 million or 4% of your company’s revenue – and expands the territorial breadth of European data protection law.

Although there are severe repercussions for being in breach of GDPR, a startling number of EU bosses are completely unaware of how the new regulation will affect their business. Latest figures show that 60% of European business leaders are not prepared for the directive, and many companies have adopted a high risk ‘wait-and-see’ approach at a potentially high cost.

The introduction of GDPR addresses two of the most significant weaknesses in the existing EU Data Protection Directive; namely that a) each member state originally implemented the directive in its own way, resulting in inconsistency; and b) the directive only applies to EU-based organisations. The GDPR, however, imposes new consistent rules that will affect all companies that collect, store or otherwise manage the data of individuals who live in the European Union, regardless of where in the world they are based.

How, then, can consumer-focused companies that fall under this blanket achieve compliance and circumvent the serious implications of breaching GDPR?

Controllers and processors

What GDPR means for your company is dependent on whether your business is either a controller or a processor. To help define these terms, a controller is a company that collects personal data and decides how it is to be processed, whereas a processor is a supplier that handles the data on behalf of the controller. For example, whilst a bank (controller) will collect their customers’ data, they will use a direct mail agency (processor) in order to communicate with them.

GDPR compliance lies mainly at the door of the controller, particularly in regards to securing user consent, but that doesn’t mean that processors aren’t liable for how they handle data. Under GDPR, all companies – controllers, processors, small businesses and large enterprises alike – are expected to protect the data-related rights of EU residents.

All rights reserved

The GDPR makes a big deal about protecting ‘data-related rights’ but what exactly are these rights? Well, according to the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office, EU residents will be entitled to the following:

 – The right to be informed: organisations must state clearly how they intend to use personal data. That means an end to excessively complex and long-winded privacy policies.

– The right of access: organisations must provide individuals access to the data they hold on them without any charge.

– The right of rectification: if the data held by an organisation is found to be incorrect, it must be amended and the correction must be sent to any third parties with whom the incorrect data was shared.

– The right to erasure: EU residents can ask organisations to delete their data and prevent further processing of it.

– The right to restrict processing: individuals control how and where organisations use their data.

– The right to data portability: individuals must be able to export their data in an open format, such as CSV.

– The right to object: This grants individuals a wide-ranging ability to ask organizations to stop processing their data.
Rights regarding automated decision making: This grants EU residents the right to know when a decision was made automatically/algorithmically (e.g. by artificial intelligence, or AI) regarding their personal data.

The guidance outlined by the GDPR certainly leaves a lot up for debate. For example, while individuals can use the right for erasure to ask a company to delete their data, there are certain instances in which those organisations can refuse. The company is then required to present their decision and the legal basis of their refusal within a month, ultimately leading to a murky area where the rights of the individual are pitted against certain defined needs of the organisation. As each EU member state implements GDPR, we can expect to see a number of court cases test the elasticity of this grey area.

Ambiguities aside, the fundamental overarching principle of the GDPR is that individuals will now have control over how their data is collected, processed and used in decision-making. And whilst this will ultimately affect the whole wider ecosystem of business processes for any given company, one area in which it is of particular importance is in customer communications.

Customer communications and radioactive data

When GDPR comes into effect on the 25th May, will need to dedicate more time and energy into understanding exactly what data they need, what they are planning to do with it, and why their organisation is legally allowed to have it.

Careful thought will need to go into every communication made with customers as well as each item of personal data that is collected or processed. This is a far cry from the majority of customer communications today, which often occur without a single concern of legality. But under GDPR, permissions and informed consent are essential considerations for every SMS sent and every IP address stored.

For business leaders this might sound like a daunting prospect – and it should do. GDPR requires a complete re-evaluation of how your company regards and treats personal data. Furthermore, with such a great deal of room for error and misinterpretation, the new regulations mandate the need for businesses to operate with the utmost vigilance.

It goes without saying that detailed documentation and clear-cut audit trails are your company’s best defence if something goes wrong and an individual threatens legal action. But there are also a number of steps that businesses can undertake in order to ensure they are GDPR-compliant before D-day.

Preparing for GDPR

The first step for any company looking to achieve compliance should be to identify what personal data they have and determine where it resides. This should be established before defining any new GDPR-compliant policies, procedures, roles, and responsibilities related to the access, management and use of personal data. At the same time, decision makers and key people within the organisation should be made aware of GDPR and the potential impact that the new regulation may have on the business.

Implementing a core team of IT, developers, legal and HR staff should be another priority. These are the people who can assist with understanding where personal data is held and if that data is protected by GDPR. Similarly, access to such data should be given only to appropriate staff and systems that need the data for work-related purposes. Data flows and mapping will help to ensure businesses understand what personal data they hold, where it came from and who it is shared with.

Companies should review their current privacy notices and put a plan in place for making any necessary changes in time for GDPR implementation. Existing consents should be refreshed if they don’t meet the GDPR standard, and a full review on how consent is sought, recorded and managed should be undertaken.

It is of the utmost importance that the right procedures are put in place for detecting, reporting, and investigating a personal data breach – you only have 72 hours to report a breach under GDPR. Individuals should also familiarise themselves with the ICO’s code of practice on Privacy Impact Assessments – as well as the latest guidance from the Article 29 Working Party.

For all companies that engage in customer communication, these new, more stringent review systems are essential to operating under GDPR. With the 25th May deadline rapidly approaching, the time is now to prepare for these changes.

The 2018 Canadian Business Awards Press Release

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Corporate Vision Unveils the 2018 Canadian Business Awards Winners

United Kingdom, 2018– Corporate Vision Magazine has announced the winners of the 2018 Canadian Business Awards.

Largely covering most of the northern-most part of North American, boasting a greater territorial area than the United States of America, Canada has an extremely varied topography. Boasting one of the best economies across the world, Canada has proven itself amongst the world’s elite. It is for this reason the 2018 Canadian Business Awards aims to recognise the incredible work done by the companies and individuals which make Canada the economic powerhouse it is today.

Currently prospering in its second year, the 2018 Canadian Business Awards will once again be an accurate representation of the best this country has offered in a myriad of sectors and industries. We aim to only recognise and highlight the excellent levels of performance and dedication from the best and the brightest individuals and organisations.

Discussing the award winners, Naomi Douglas, Coordinator said: “Through this dedicated programme we reward those who have consistently go above and beyond to achieve greatness throughout the past 12 months from across Canada. Congratulations to all of my winners and best of luck for the future.”

To learn more about these illustrious winners, and to find out the secrets behind their success, please visit http://www.cv-magazine.com.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About Corporate Vision Magazine

Created by a highly experienced and passionate team of business experts, advisors and insiders, Corporate Vision provides discerning readers worldwide with a wealth of news, features and comment on the corporate issues of the day.

How To Prevent Workplace Fraud

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How To Prevent Workplace Fraud

Aziz Rahman examines the scale of fraud in business and explains how it can be prevented, identified and reported.

Recent research has found that half of all UK companies may have been affected by fraud or other economic crime in the past two years.

The researchers found that more than half of the organisations they questioned had suffered losses of £72,000 or more due to fraud or economic crime in that time. Almost a quarter of them admitted losses of more than £720,000.

Tellingly, only 50% of the firms that responded to the questioning had carried out a fraud risk assessment in the last two years.

The figures are taken from PwC’s ninth biennial Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey, which is based on input from more than 7,000 business decision-makers across 123 countries; including 146 from the UK.

Costs

Although the survey cannot be taken as a completely accurate assessment, it is a valuable snapshot of fraud in the business world. Its findings regarding the number of companies that may have been affected by fraud or other economic crime cannot be ignored. The size of the losses involved also make it too important to be overlooked.

The costs of fraud, however, go way beyond the balance sheet. The damage in terms of disruption, staff morale, reputation and relationships with customers and trading partners is costly in ways that are often too difficult to put a figure on. But while it may be impossible to fully assess the total cost of fraud, each and every company should be aware of the need to prevent it.

Some corporates may not be currently affected by fraud and, as a result, may believe it will not happen to them. Some may hold this belief while it is actually being committed against them without their knowledge. And some may be aware that it is happening to them and not know what to do.

The answer, in one word, is prevention.

Prevention

Whether fraud is or isn’t being committed in a company, each one has to take all necessary steps to assess the potential for wrongdoing being committed by staff, third parties, intermediaries, customers, trading partners and anyone else with a connection to it or knowledge of its workings.

It is the responsibility of senior staff to identify the potential for problems and then devise, introduce and maintain procedures that allow wrongdoing to be identified and prevented. A company without adequate prevention measures is a company that is vulnerable to fraud, not to mention other forms of business crime.

Fraud prevention cannot be achieved without the company taking the time and effort to assess the way it works and the ways in which it could be vulnerable to it.  That is the case for any company that trades in any country and in any business sector. It has to look at every aspect of its operation: activities inside and outside the workplace, those working for or with it, record keeping, payment procedures and management and monitoring structures. Each aspect may contain weaknesses that could be exploited by those looking to make fraudulent gains.

If this sounds worrying or too daunting a task, the right legal advice can be sought. Business crime lawyers with the relevant expertise and experience can examine a company’s workings, identify areas where it may be vulnerable to fraud and then devise ways for these vulnerabilities to be “designed out’’.

Investigations

An appropriate whistle blowing procedure will complement any fraud prevention measures that a company introduces. Encouraging staff to report their suspicions of wrongdoing (in the knowledge that their concerns will be treated seriously) can help promote an anti-fraud workplace culture.

This approach creates an awareness of the possibility of fraud, makes it more likely to be detected and serves as a deterrent to those who may be thinking of committing it. Such reports can be investigated thoroughly and discreetly to allow a company to determine what, if any, wrongdoing has been committed and what response is necessary.

As a firm, we have carried out many internal investigations for companies who have felt unable to conduct them for themselves. Such investigations can be a vital first step in determining whether wrongdoing has been committed and, if so, who by.

If an investigation does show that fraud has been committed, a company can report it to the police or other agency, initiate civil proceedings against those suspected of committing it or bring a private prosecution against them, under the Prosecution Offences Act 1985.

But it must be remembered that such options are only available if an independent internal investigation has been carried out properly. An internal investigation is only likely if information has come to light that indicates possible fraud. And that information in itself is only likely to emerge if the company has procedures in place for fraud to be prevented, identified and reported.

Vulnerability

These procedures cannot be dismissed as mere bureaucratic exercises. The statistics in PwC’s research show that. Anyone who takes a dismissive approach to those statistics should also think again. The figures represent real cases where real companies have lost real (and often large) amounts of money because of their unwillingness or inability to tackle fraud.

The irony is that PwC has, in the past, found itself at the centre of fraud controversies.  As an example, in 2007 it paid $225M to Tyco shareholders for failing to identify fraud at the company while acting as its auditor. During that time, Tyco overstated its income by $5.8 billion.

When the Tesco accounting scandal broke in 2014, PwC was the supermarket giant’s auditor. It faced awkward questions from the authorities about how it had not spotted that Tesco had overstated its profits by £300M. This overstating led to Tesco being fined £129M and three of its senior executives being charged with fraud and false accounting.

Such cases, like PwC’s carefully-compiled research, have to be seen as a warning about the need for every company to ensure that fraud is prevented.

Frontline Backlash – Why Fair Treatment is Still a Challenge for too Many Workers

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Frontline backlash: Why fair treatment is still a challenge for too many workers

Here are the thoughts of Richard Acreman, a Partner at WM Reply; a company dedicated to building world-class intranets and business solutions with Microsoft Technology. Their mission is to build the world’s best Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365 solutions to help organisations overcome business challenges.

Frontline workers are the lifeblood of most organisations. They’re the doers, the people on the ground, the ones who make things happen and turn strategy into reality.

But the thing about frontline workers is that they have the habit of being invisible to companies when they’re doing a good job, and far too influential when they get things wrong. When they’re bringing in customers or building great products, it’s business as usual, but when a small mistake is made that snowballs into a loss of revenue or a negative news story, they’re the first in line to take the heat. It’s an all too common story of not being appreciated, until it’s too late.

To make matters worse, when employees are neglected from a central business and HR perspective, they’re more likely to lose focus and to become disengaged – in short, to stop caring. When they stop caring, that’s when they’re most likely to make mistakes – vicious circle.

Solutions in hindsight

The trouble is, once things start to go downhill, a company’s options for turning the situation around quickly start to shrink. That’s why it’s so important for companies to take a stand, and work out how they can treat all their workers as fairly as possible right from day one. That’s got a few different strands to it, which we’ll explore in a moment, but it all stems back to treating frontline workers the same as those in the head office. The only difference being that they aren’t in the office, so firms might need to work harder and use more specialist tools to ensure they are treated the same.

You supply, we demand

First however, the company has to want to engage the workers on the front lines. Too often they’re treated simply as a commodity, a question of supply and demand. Because they aren’t “in the system” from an HR perspective in the same way as head office workers; because they aren’t defining strategy and crunching numbers, they become side-lined and commoditised.

The reason this is so often accepted is that frontline staff are often so numerous that it’s difficult to view them as more than a number. One frontline worker doing amazing work can only do so much, companies imagine. Because their influence doesn’t extend beyond their own work, they can’t add that much value to the wider company. The question they should be asking is why not? How can we change that? Once the mind-set changes and businesses start thinking about all their employees in the same way – treating them fairly – that exceptional worker on the frontline can become a source of innovation and best practice that motivates their colleagues and gives them the tools and the knowledge to excel beyond their current skills, both faster than they might have before, and in whole new ways.

Connecting to the hive mind

If you think of an organisation as the sum of its knowledge and wisdom, rather than just the collective labour of its employees, it’s clear that valuing what frontline workers have to offer is only the beginning. Once companies start to understand and appreciate how much frontline workers can add, they still need a smart, effective way of connecting them to the rest of the organisation.

That’s not as simple as it might sound. A lot of those on the front line are in the kind of roles where access to collaborative communications technology is far from simple. They might be on the shop floor dealing with customers face to face or they might be out and about, without a laptop. That means that those workers have to choose to engage with the rest of the company in ways that are naturally limited, or at times that might fall a little outside of their official working hours. Getting people to connect in less than efficient ways is no small challenge for an audience that has traditionally been ignored, and needs little encouragement to disengage. Once again it boils down to fairness. By not delivering the channels by which they can truly involve themselves in the happenings of the wider company, their voice is being stolen.

Digital community

Because frontline workers are usually geographically distant from the central company offices, as well as from each other, the only kind of wider community that they can be engaged in is a digital one.

Tools like Office 365, with its key applications Yammer and Teams are the foundations of how that can work. They provide the infrastructure, in the form of easy to use, mobile friendly communication tools that can connect all workers to each other and to the company, often in select groups and around particular interest areas. But providing the framework is only half the battle. You need to make sure people are inspired to engage with it too – especially when it’s technically less convenient, or the time they have to engage might sit outside of their standard working hours.

There’s a lot companies can do to listen and understand what’s important to each employee group and to build targeted campaigns that speak to those priorities. But they can also monitor them for what they’re organically generating. It might not be easy to know what will engage a group who are more distant, but the employees within that group certainly will know. Keep an eye on what’s happening by itself, and then use the weight of the company to boost those conversations and turn them into full-blown campaigns, for example through senior leadership publically engaging with grass roots initiatives from the front line.

Treating all workers fairly can never be something that companies do passively. Different groups pose different challenges and frontline workers are often among the most complex groups to bring into the fold. But a fully rounded internal comms strategy aimed at including everyone fully and equally should be the starting point, not the end goal.

Big Firm Expertise. Small Firm Values.

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Big Firm Expertise. Small Firm Values.

Milazzo Webb Law, PLLC, is a law firm founded by Brandy Milazzo and Danielle Webb. Recognizing the challenges faced by their clients in dealing within the legal market, they created a law firm that would provide high-quality legal services expected of large law firms while offering excellent client service, relationships, flexibility and efficiency that a small firm is uniquely positioned to provide that, in essence, will be the “Google” or “Facebook” of law firms. We profile the firm and speak to Brandy about her exciting and impressive portfolio.

With offices in North Carolina, Milazzo Webb Law, PLLC, is focused on serving clients in a variety of states. At Milazzo Webb, clients work directly with experienced attorneys in order to help guide and counsel them through legal issues in an efficient and timely manner. Though the firm offers the same level of impeccable service as a big legal practice, it places a much higher premium on building deep relationships with clients to deliver the most professional yet personalized legal experience possible. Whilst this approach means that the clients work hand-in-hand with the seasoned team of attorneys in a completely comfortable setting, the expertise across a wide range of legal disciplines ensures that the clients may be confident in achieving their desired outcomes too.

Now, more than ever, it is critical to have legal counsel with the ability to navigate legal requirements and regulations, and devise creative solutions that provide the greatest advantage and benefit. Essentially, the firm’s vision is to more broadly provide the highest-quality legal service, appropriately scoped to the business need in the most efficient manner.

Being selected as 2018’s Lawyer of the Year in Charlotte in Corporate Vision’s 2018 Legal Elite, Brandy is Principal Owner and Managing Partner of Milazzo Webb. As one of the Firm’s principal owners, Brandy focuses in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, private and senior financing, technology, supply chain and outsourcing transactions, private equity and venture capital transactions, commercial business transactions, loan modifications and other general corporate work, such as corporate organization or dissolution.

Boasting a wealth of expertise and highly qualified, Brandy represents numerous clients on the legality of online promotions and negotiates commercial contracts for large financial institutions and global media and entertainment companies. As a skilled negotiator, she has successfully conducted sales of a division of a concrete company and a minor league sports team, as well as the acquisition of a software company.

Brandy believes it is her civic duty to know what is going on within her community, and she seeks opportunities to utilize her talents and abilities to promote change in improving lives. As a successful business woman, she is honored and privileged to have been given a voice to shape, change and influence community initiatives whether it’s in helping children or adults; supporting organizations that help educate, inspire, and promote health and well-being; or simply by offering spiritual guidance and healing as may be needed at any given moment to any individual.

Brandy has a continuing passion to share in partnerships to maximize resources to the betterment of individuals and the community at large. She wants to give back and she knows it’s important to do so. People gravitate to her because of her passion and energy, but she is the one who feels blessed by being touched by so many great people in her life. She endeavors to provide the same for others, even if it is just one other person. Though she has had some bumps along the way, she is blessed to have overcome challenges because of the support from family and friends in her life.

Commenting on her previous experience and subsequent career, Brandy explains to us what it was like working in corporate law and how she came about setting up Milazzo Webb and which responsibilities she assumed.

“After spending 12 years in big law as a corporate lawyer, I ventured out on August 1, 2013, with Danielle, a friend and female colleague from a big law firm. At Milazzo Webb we are a professional limited liability company taxed as a partnership. All decisions are fully made collaboratively while we each assume designated responsibilities within our respective areas of expertise and responsibilities for the administration and business development of the firm, as well as managing our own practice areas.”

When venturing out into starting up her own law firm, Brandy acknowledges that her previous experience within big law firms was important for her development, and what it was like being a woman operating in a large practice.

“While we appreciate and value the experience we each gained within the large law firms, we envisioned establishing an innovative and leading-edge firm committed to work/life quality for women and all attorneys who are not only excellent attorneys but devoted spouses/significant others, moms, parents, grandparents and/or caregivers. As leaders for women and all attorneys wanting to be more than lawyers, our vision was realized when we opened a full-service firm providing excellence in client service with high-quality lawyers practicing in their respective practice areas, or niches each being allowed to work as much or as little as desired either at the office or remotely. In essence, we want to be the “Google” or “Facebook” of law firms. Within less than three years of opening, after starting with six lawyers, two of whom were part-time, contract attorneys, I am proud to say that we have and are continuing to fulfil our vision, as the firm now has a total of 16 attorneys and 15 staff members within our various legal practice areas, and we are currently talking to other attorneys interested in joining in different practice areas.”

In the firm’s second full year in existence, Milazzo Webb almost doubled in size. Brandy explains how the company works hard to deliver the best possible solutions to clients, whilst motivating staff to do the same.

“Here at Milazzo Webb, we have created a model in which we can serve almost all of our clients’ needs with the highest quality of work and do so in the most efficient manner. By incentivizing all attorneys to market the entire firm and their colleagues, and to refer business to other attorneys within the firm without the outrageous billable hour rates of the large law firms and having to put three to six attorneys on each matter.

In terms of expansion, the practice is continuing to focus on growth in certain areas, meaning that the firm must employ excellent attorneys. Brandy talks to us about growth, alluding to the fact that the practice is not growing for the sake of it, but more in terms of finding the right fit regarding attorneys, employees and growing organically.

“Having been asked numerous times how large our firm intends to grow, I must say we are not growing to grow and we look for the following three priorities in our growth: (1) the right person/fit; this is very crucial and of utmost importance now, because we have such an tremendous team in which we ensure that everyone that joins the company is right for the team as well as the firm; (2) the best technical abilities; as we have to know that our attorneys and staff can provide the best of quality to our clients without micromanagement in order to meet our efficiency standards; and (3) as a result of our unique financial model, our attorneys must have their own book of clients or have the financial risk tolerance to build or be willing to work with other members of our team who have work. We exceeded $3MM in our fourth year and $5MM in our fifth year, as well as adding at least two additional practice areas and at least six additional attorneys, as well as move into larger space, all of which is already being implemented.”

Within the firm, Brandy notes that each attorney focuses their practice in their own areas of knowledge and skill, something which each member possesses to an impressive extent. She tells us her own areas of expertise, as well as referring to her own expertise and how her leadership style reflects on the company.

“Alongside our attorneys who have specialist areas that they focus on, our associates and staff help multiple senior attorneys and partners. As the firm’s Managing Partner and Corporate Department Head, I manage a dynamic corporate legal team as a leader and a mentor. I lead by example as I set the highest standards in achieving the best quality work product for our clients, as well as providing mentoring to the legal team so that they can grow and sustain their legal careers.”

What distinguishes the firm apart from all other law firms is that first and foremost, it is a womenowned organization. The firm faces the same challenges that all women face when attempting to balance and manage work/ life issues. Brandy divulges some more on what challenges the firm has faced and they have benefitted from overcoming these issues.

“It is through these challenges that we better understand how to solve time management issues and meet business needs. Our innovative approach to providing work/life balance starts with determining our firm personnel’s individual needs. We expect each person to take ownership, responsibility and accountability of their designated positions within the firm. This shared objective allows us to be creative in providing alternative work schedules and work-from-home arrangements to meet each of our personnel’s needs. By providing personal environments and conditions from which our attorneys and staff work in results in excellence in performance, work product and overall job satisfaction. As stated above, another unique component that sets our firm apart from others is in our attorney compensation structure that provides generous fee splits and additional incentive rewards to our attorneys who are top-caliber legal professionals.

“The biggest challenge to future growth is managing the administrative burdens of adding additional attorneys and support staff, while maintaining our great firm culture and unique work hours/location flexibility. The innovative attorney structure model that the firm has adopted is both creative and challenging. As noted above, our firm’s philosophy is one of maintaining a healthy work/life balance and that balance is not the same every day. This business model relies significantly on the experience that each attorney brings from the large law firm environment, and applies the best aspects of the large firm with the best aspects that a smaller firm provides. The end result combines firm fundamentals with individual preference in workstyle and work environment.

“Placing the client first and delivering high quality customer service, the firm has created a structure to serve client needs in a most efficient manner without having to charge clients excessive hourly rates like a big firm. Unlike big firms, the attorneys have their own client base as a source of revenue, and they are provided incentives for the work they share with other attorneys. We continue to focus on strategic growth to find the right persons with the right capabilities and technical abilities that fit our firm model. The unique combination of the teamwork of the two principal owners and our willingness to play to one another’s strengths collaboratively along with the incentive based compensation and seeking only the highest quality of professionals sets our firm apart from others with our clients.”

Producing constant results alongside excellent customer service, Milazzo Webb has become an award-winning practice. Thanks to its innovative approaches, the team at the practice have been able to constantly exceed client expectations, going the extra mile to satisfy clients, as Brandy points out.

“Upon being selected for this award, I am honored to lead a team of legal professionals who are invested in making our firm successful. I attribute our continued success to the culture that has been established in working hard and playing hard as a team. I am excited and energized that our firm’s growth is targeted with purpose and strategy to further improve on our successes to sustain an innovative spirit in solving matters for clients. I am thankful and appreciative to everyone on the team who represents our firm with core values of excellence, integrity, client service, collegiality and community. Our mission statement says it all, reinventing the law firm delivering the best of both worlds: big firm capability, with small firm flexibility’. This is at the heart of who we are, what we represent to each other, our clients and the community at large.”

Ultimately, giving us more of an insight into her leadership, Brandy answers some questions about her role as Principal Partner, what attributes she believes have made her a successful role, and what lessons she has learned which have helped her development over time.

What two skills do you consider to be most helpful for you to succeed as a business owner?

While I recognize there are many talents and conditions that are necessary for growth and success, I consider communication and flexibility to be the most helpful skills to enable success to be realized as a business owner. Seldom does anything in life happen as planned or intended. You have to be assertive in setting goals and strategies, but more importantly you must be flexible and be open to tweak goals and strategies when “life and business” happen. Secondly, I strongly believe that communication is the key to life. Most problems are the result of the absence of or the wrong communication. Having tactful, appropriate, but direct dialogue overcomes most problems, not always immediately, but eventually. This is true of problems with co-owners, attorneys, staff, clients, referral sources, family, friends, etc.

If you had to do it all over again, what is the ONE thing you would do differently and what outcomes would you expect as a result?

Honestly, I do not think I would do one thing over again, as we have had our missteps and mishaps, but we have learned a great deal from them. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, although I do not always love it in that moment. I am often asked if I would have done it sooner. My answer is always, no. I am very grateful for my time at the large law firms and the great, good, bad, and awful experiences I had at each of them. I learned something from all of them and I know my co-owner feels the same way. They made us who we are. From our “mistakes,” we have learned the kind of people and attorneys we want, the type of clients we want, and the ways we want to run our firm.

What is one of the most valuable lessons you have learned while leading a fast-growing company?

One of the most fascinating and rewarding discoveries in leading a fast-growing firm is that my passion to help others continues to expand. The services that I develop and offer to the community are well-received through direct professional development initiatives, as a leader within the plethora of organizations that I am associated with, or as a voice for other women within my community activism. I always seek opportunities to share my knowledge and talents in providing services that will help individuals and business organizations grow and develop to the fullest capacity. There are many lessons learned each day as I endeavor to maintain a successful legal practice, continue to grow an innovative law firm and fulfil my personal needs and desires. Remaining focused and grounded in everything I do has always served me well as I am deeply humbled and grateful for the opportunities and blessings bestowed upon me each day, most importantly my family which includes our entire firm and my friends – they are all my family.

‘What goals have you set for your company in five years, 10 years?’

During the first three years in goals that have surpassed our expectations. As we now enter our fifth year, we expect to double in size and business volume, and by year ten, we hope to surpass the $10M. Though our goals are ambitious, we are not looking to grow for the sake of growth, but rather to strategically meet the future needs of our clients, our firm and the business community at large. As each of our practice areas develop and flourish at varying paces, we must continuously focus on global matters that directly impact business and individual lives. The legal industry is ever-changing and, as legal professionals, we must be at the forefront of change in order to properly meet demands that shape our futures. It is very exciting to see first-hand what our firm has accomplished in such a short period of time and to look to the future to see what more we will do.”

“We just held our firm’s 4th Annual Client Appreciation Event offering thanks and appreciation to all of our valued clients and business partners. This year’s event was especially significant as it reminds us of why we do what we do. Our clients are the community at large – local, national and international. In helping them realize their personal and/or business goals and objectives, we are directly contributing to help shape and improve the futures of our neighbors and the world.”

Company: Milazzo Webb Law, PLLC

Contact: Brandy Milazzo

Address: 413 South Sharon Amity Road, Suite A, Charlotte, NC 28211, USA

Phone: 001 704 360 8705

Website: www.mswlawpllc.com

Be the Cause

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Be the Cause

inviteCHANGE delivers solutions for organizations that build great teams, cultures for innovation and workplaces that thrive, tailored to your firm’s strategies and goals. We profile the organisation as we look to gain further insight into the group’s success.

Since 1997, inviteCHANGE has delivered generative learning and coaching experiences for leaders from the front line to the board room. The team partners with their customers to strengthen institutional capacity through team and leadership development, professional coaching, and culture consulting. The outcome of these solutions is a culture of generative wholeness. The Generative Wholeness Way, “GW Way,” is a signature, transformative approach for leaders and their teams to adopt the dynamic capacity to originate, create, learn and produce results. Staff create custom and measurable frameworks that underpin its talent strategies for organizational learning and change through character development solutions.

As its core purpose, inviteCHANGE lives up to its name, inviting change in many aspects and encouraging people to live and play with purpose. Its mission is to be the catalyst for clients to engage boldly, coach purposefully, partner respectfully and lead authentically.

inviteCHANGE is recognised as an industry champion, with the management leaders having been bold visionaries since the beginning of professional coaching. In the early 90’s, coaching was emerging as a true force in North America, and the team volunteered vast amounts of hours to help clarify and articulate the standards for coach demonstration competency. On a global basis, leaders worldwide live and play with purpose as the optimal pathway toward sustainable excellence. The competencies of the GW Way, delivered to their customers, is also practiced and modelled by all team members. Engaging with inviteCHANGE leaders is an experience of congruence and integrity that fuels this team to be response-agile and operate consistently with its values and core purpose.

Moving forward, inviteCHANGE has an empowering global vision. Staff intends to promote the GW Way principles, models and techniques as the motivation for effective conscious choice by organizational leaders. A key strategy deployed is generative character development as the new frontier of leadership development. Knowing what to change in habit and behavior is only part of the equation. The full equation for excellence in organizational culture requires transforming knowledge into new mindsets that fuel exponential shifts in performance. inviteCHANGE is dedicated to be the cause of sustainable excellence in organizations around the globe.

Contact: Janet Harvey

Address: 110 3rd Avenue North, Suite 102; Edmonds, WA 98020

Telephone: 425-778-3505

Website: www.invitechange.com


A One Stop Shop for Finance

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A One Stop Shop for Finance

SCCF provides financing to small and mid-size commodities producers, traders and distributors. We spoke to Dimitri Rusca who provides us with an overview of the company and the services that it offers.

Established in 2004, SCCF provides Financing and fiduciary services from its Geneva and Zug offices. Dimitri is keen to tell us about his firm and what differentiates it from its competitors, subsequently making it the best possible option for clients.

“Here at SCCF, we are a team of 15 professionals, consisting of ex bankers and traders. We work quickly to understand the needs of our customers, placing them at the forefront of our minds, and find solutions rapidly. Furthermore, we can implement credit facilities within a few days and also incorporate Swiss companies in two weeks.”

Notably, SCCF is able to produce impressive results and Dimitri outlines as the steps which the team take in order to ensure clients receive the best possible outcome. He also comments on the firm’s overall mission and what steps the team take in order to achieve this.

“Treating every client as an individual, we find the best bespoke solutions for each customer. Helping to optimise financing and corporate costs. Our target is small and mid-size companies who are active in the commodities, but start-ups are also very welcome. There is no need for clients to bring large equity to obtain financing.”

Providing us with an overview of the industry within Geneva and Zug, Dimitri discusses what specific challenges there are which are affecting the market. As a result of these challenges, the firm must adapt and employ certain techniques in order to stay ahead of the constant advances which are arising within the industry.

“At the moment, banks have the general tendency in reducing trade finance for small corporates, and this is our niche market. SCCF has its own crowdlending platform (https:// crowdlending.sccf.ch/). We are constantly developing it and adding new products, including blockchain, and soon, SCCF will have apple and android applications, enabling our customer to use our services more efficiently.”

Regarding the internal culture within SCCF, Dimitri comments on the extensive training which each member of staff must go through. Thus, staff are equipped to provide the best possible service to clients and can answer any questions or queries which may arise.

“Within the company, each staff member follows internal and external training and participate a variety of seminars. We have five senior former bankers from BNP Paribas and Credit Suisse within our staff, totalling 100 years of experience in Trade and Structured Finance. Important to the values and ethos of the company, each customer must be treated with special care.”

In order to produce the best customer service, the right staff must be hired, and the company are constantly in contact with the University of Geneva, with the team offering various Masters Degrees in Trade Finance.

Moving forwards, Dimitri predicts what the future holds for SCCF, as well as outlining the firm’s plans in the times ahead. He signs off by commenting on how the adapt will to any developments which will arise in the sector.

“Looking to the future, we are developing our IT platform. Crowdlending, blockchain is our priority. Also, we are hiring IT engineers from EPFL (Lausanne University of Technologies) within our company. Overall, we will be at our efficient best by developing new products all the time in order to adapt with these advances.”

Company: SCCF Structured Commodity & Corporate Finance SA

Contact: Dimitri Rusca

Address: 9-11 Place de la Fusterie, Geneva, 1204, Switzerland

Phone: +41223108989

Website: www.sccf.ch and www.crowdlending.sccf.ch

The Trusted Villa Experts for Over 25 Years

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The Trusted Villa Experts for Over 25 Years

Exceptional Villas is a trusted, luxury villa rental company that provides tailor-made vacations all over the world. We speak to Alexandra Baradi as we look to find out more about the fascinating services that the firm has to offer.

Founded in 1992, Exceptional Villas features over 2500 of the world’s finest luxury rentals. A major aspect of why clients choose to work with the business, is that every single one of the villas has been inspected at least once every year by one of its dedicated Villa Specialists. Alexandra starts off by explaining the big difference between Exceptional Villas and its competitors.

“Helping us to stand out within the industry is our outstanding customer service. Right from the start, clients will be speaking and liaising with an actual person who has been to the villa many times and has experienced the villas first hand. We have unrivalled experience of both our luxury villas and destinations, as our concierge team and our villa specialists have an incredible in-depth local knowledge.”

Gaining an understanding of what customer’s ideal villa would be, the team speak with clients and then match them up with the perfect villa. Alexandra comments on how the firm’s long-term relationships are a key indicator of the firm’s success, both in placing people in the right villa, and also offering unrivalled customer service.

“Delivering an exceptional service, our long-term relationships with our owners and property managers ensure that we have the best price and the best value possible. We offer both Incomparable Service and unmatched value, whilst truly possessing expertise that is out of the ordinary and not found elsewhere. Furthermore, we are also proud of our consistent 5-star reviews from Trust Pilot and from Trip Advisor, highlighting how happy clients are with our service.”

Building long-term relationships and earning clients’ trust is a value which is stuck right in the heart of the company, with Alexandra emphasising how important it is for both sides to trust each other.

“Here at Exceptional Villas, we believe that trust is the basis of every relationship, especially when it comes to travel planning. Our clients return to us year after year because we believe in integrity, honesty, dependability, reliability, service and, above all, competence. We believe in getting the basics right and making each of our guests feel like a VIP.”

When undertaking a new project, Alexandra outlines what mission and values the firm sticks to in order to make sure they get the best result.

“Since inception, our mission statement has always been to be the best at whatever we do. We spend a lot of time getting to know our clients and finding out what their perfect holiday looks like, and we will then match the perfect villa to their dream.

Regarding the internal culture, Alexandra elaborates on how the company makes sure that all staff are well equipped to achieve the company mission and provide the best service, alongside travelling to the villas and gaining expert opinions.

“Essentially, the cornerstone of our success is we believe that quality always wins out in the marketplace. Again, one of our most important values is trust, and trust is essential to our business. Which is why we only feature villas that we have personally inspected. As a result, we are very proud of the fact that we are considered to be one of the world’s most trusted villa experts.

“Exceeding the expectations of our customers is very important. This is from every part of their interaction with us. From the first moment, they contact us to after they return home from their holiday. Above all, what contributes the most to our success is our team cohesion and everyone’s ability to work as a team, fulfilling our client’s holiday dreams.”

In order to create this thriving working environment in which everyone is working to do the best for the client, it is important that Exceptional Villas hires the right staff. Alexandra explains that the team look to hire those who are passionate and enthusiastic about their job, and that want to work with the intention of succeeding.

“What do we look for in our employees? Passion and enthusiasm. We completely believe in first finding the right personality for the job, and then training them for the position. When it comes to our sales team especially, this has worked every time.”

Overall, with staff boasting a wealth of expertise and passion for their job, Exceptional Villas can look forward to a bright future ahead, as it continues to grow and become the best at what it does throughout the industry.

Company: Exceptional Villas

Contact: Alexandra Baradi

Address: The Lodge, Dromnevane, Kenmare, Co. Kerry, Ireland

Phone: 00353 87 2232218

Website: www.exceptionalvillas.com

Recruitment Top 50

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The 2018 Recruitment Top 50 has been launched in order to identify some of the most diverse, client-focused and forward-thinking recruitment, executive search, staffing & HR firms and commend them for their efforts throughout the past 12 months. From agencies and consultancies to sole professionals and in-house recruiters, our team have identified true excellence across the industry and we would like to congratulate all of those recognised.

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Working Less with Content and Focusing More on Process

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Working Less with Content and Focusing More on Process

The NAOS Institute is an organisation which works across a variety of different disciplines. We spoke to Consultant Psychotherapist, Bernd Leygraf who provides us with information on the company and delves deeper into the services that the firm offers.

Located in London, NAOS Institute are dedicated to the personal and professional development of leaders and change agents within psychology, as well as community building and mental health issues.

In order to complete its mission, the firm offers a variety of services, including a range of nationally accredited training courses, ranging from weekend courses to substantive formation programmes at Diploma level. Furthermore, on offer to clients and customers is high quality executive coaching for leaders within commerce, the not-forprofit sector and government organisations. Lastly, the team are well trained in providing clinical services such as counselling, psychosexual and couples therapy and supervision for professionals in these and related fields.

NAOS Institute is supported through a number of patrons, including Lord Patten, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to name a few. Within the company, all are global elders and there is a faculty of highly experienced and distinguished scholars in their respective fields, a range of collaborations with accrediting bodies, as well as over 30 clinicians working from our base in West London.

Bernd explains the process that the firm goes through when working with clients, as everyone works together to try and find the best solution for both sides. He talks about the implementation of a strategy as well as the outcome, and how there is a real desire for the firm to help others.

“A normal initial self-referral would involve an organisation or individual completing an enquiry form or by placing an initial phone call, together with a description of what might be requested from us. This may be the development of a trauma response policy for an international bank, or to help a global television production company address women and men equality issues in the workplace, or finally, supervision for a team of therapists working at Grenfell Tower.

“A second step would be a site visit to meet some of the personnel involved; invariably, through this type of data collection, we should then be able to formulate an action plan together with our potential collaborative partner. We have a strong commitment to working, alongside the commercial sector, with non-profit organisations, and our fees normally reflect this.”

Adopting a style which accommodates all, Bernd summarises what is considered to be the key characteristics of the NAOS Institute and the work it does. The firm’s style of work is about helping others, reacting to potential issues and assisting others in overcoming these challenges.

“Here at the NAOS Institute, we respond critically to the prevailing organisational culture and most of our collaborative partners are appreciative of our particular stance on specific issues. Additionally, our organisational and leadership model is participatory, relational and collaborative, hence we support newly emerging forms of organisational culture and organisational change, working less with content and focusing more on process.

“Embracing many types of issues and changes, the company embraces and integrates psychological approaches to working with leadership and organisation developments, with its consultants and agents working across three distinct fields; psychology, coaching and management.

“Working collaboratively, the firm’s training courses tend to bring together delegates from these areas and the dialogue between students are as valued as the teaching input provided. Moreover, our trainings were the first dedicated leadership programmes in the UK and originated in the approach of the national Training Laboratories (US) and the multicultural organisation development programmes of the Gestalt Institute Cleveland, Ohio.

“The great and the good of these two approaches contributed to teaching our first generation of consultants; later on, we added a Jungian approach (Prof. Papadopolous and Prof. Andrew Samuels) to coaching, and integrated Hellingers work (Hidden Symmetry within organisations), as well as neo transpersonal approaches such as Mindell’s process work.

“It could be said that, as an organisation we lean towards idiosyncratic ways of working rather than in a theoretical purist way and therefore see any new request for work as a challenge. Culture change therefore, for us, stems from what we term inner leadership, processes in which every member of an organisation is engaged in.”

Ultimately, indicative of its culture, NAOS Institute continues to help others around it and works with a wealth of clients on a global basis. There are many attributes which the firm boasts, but it is its desire to help others and overcome any potentially challenging issues to clients which really helps the firm to stand out, leaving the NAOS Institute with a bright future. 

Contact: Bernd Leygraf

Address: 3 Montpelier Avenue, London, W5 2XP, UK

Phone: 07414 681 553

Creating a Thriving Working Environment

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Creating a Thriving Working Environment

A Tribe Called Woman is dedicated to empowering women to show-up powerfully, purposefully and collaboratively. We gain an insight into the successful operations of the coaching consultancy, profiling their work of the team and that of Founder, Karen Heras-Kelly, as she features as corporate Vison’s 2018 Ones to Watch in Coaching.

Established by Karen Heras-Kelly, A Tribe Called Woman is an organisation which is passionate about realising positive change in people and business. Boasting a wealth of 40-years combined corporate experience, Karen and her business partner, Helen Parker aim to help people understand the pressures and challenges that women face when working in fast-paced environments, with the ultimate aim of helping women and businesses thrive.

Forming a team consisting of a certified professional coach specialising in feminine empowerment, and a qualified and practicing Clinical Hypnotherapist, A Tribe Called Woman can truly empower women to manage their professional, personal, social and wellbeing goals.

Knowing what they want to achieve, Karen and Helen help women and men to understand and lead from their feminine side, as they bring forward harmony, creativity and effective relationships which helps not only women to but also businesses to thrive.

Operating with tried and tested methods, the partners create coaching and leadership programmes designed by women, for women and men interested in developing feminine leadership skills. Having worked with a wide variety of women and men around the world, the team link body, mind and purpose together, making the executive coaches truly unique, as they teach clients to tune into their core and follow their instincts.

Flourishing within the industry, Karen and Helen are brimming with creativity, as they are committed to inspiring purposeful businesses, and placing feminine empowerment, leadership and wellbeing at their heart, all of which contributes to the company being named as Corporate Vision’s 2018 Ones to Watch in Coaching.

Monitoring trends and activities helps A Tribe Called Woman to understand the needs and requirements of many women in their respective sectors, and is a key aspect of how the duo support so many women. Previously, Karen spent twenty years launching and building beauty brands like GHD & St Tropez for sale globally, holding senior exec positions within the fields of PR, marketing and brand building. While Helen led multinational CSR programmes that harnessed her proven track record in corporate communications with social impact creation, she is also an established clinical therapist who enables people to tap fully into the power of their minds. Together they are well equipped to support women with the pressures of managing corporate life.

As a CTI Professional Certified Co-Active coach and leadership graduate, Karen follows the models provided by The Coaching Training Institute (a Harvard Medical School affiliate). Also, she is known for her feminine empowerment and leadership work. It is an ambition and vision of Karen to support women and men to embody feminine energy in the workplace.

Essentially, A Tribe Called Woman is unique because the team are able to link body, mind and purpose together, teaching clients to embody a feminine style of leadership in the workplace. The organisation’s work consistently achieves a 100% rating for its quality and impact, and advocacy drives the majority of its new business.

Well-renowned amongst the coaching industry, Karen has been very proactive in the work that she has done, and in 2017, she co-led an extensive leadership and wellbeing programme in Mexico for the executive team of a major international company. The work undertaken is helping to pave the way for a shift in culture towards a softer feminine energy that is in balance with healthy masculine management traits.

With regard to her personal future, there are exciting times ahead for Karen, as in March 2018, she will be leading a two-week retreat to India that involves 14 executive women. This retreat is dedicated to feminine leadership and wellbeing for women seeking to succeed in a busy world. Furthermore, in April 2018, she will be flying to India to collect an award entitled ‘Woman of Excellence’ from the World Economic Forum (WEF) for her work empowering women & feminine leadership.

Moreover, the future for A Tribe Called Woman is also exciting, as there is a growing demand amongst organisations and businesses for feminine focused leadership within the workplace. Previous research has shown that feminine leadership can have a positive impact upon wellbeing as well as culture. In the times ahead, the team see greater opportunities to blend their impressive coaching and training into business and work, with both sexes possessing greater collaboration, equality, harmony and innovation.

Ultimately, A Tribe Called Woman will adapt to these trends by creating bespoke programmes which are based on organisation’s strategic goals and challenges, as Karen and Helen look to tackle these through the elements of mind, body and purpose. 

Company: A Tribe Called Woman

Contact: Karen Heras-Kelly

Address: Leeds, UK

Phone: 0781 487 4911

Website: www.atribecalledwoman.com/workplace

Issue 3 2018

Issue 3 2018

Welcome to the3rd issue of Corporate Vision Magazine, your source for the latest news and inventive features from across the globe.


In this edition, we invited Managing Director of Local Buzz Marketing Limited, Jon Orchard to talk us through the innovative and creative Digital Marketing company that provides their clients with a diverse range of expertise. Jon highlights some of the exciting aspects of the company. 

Elsewhere in this issue, Fred-young & Evans LP is a full-service commercial law firm in Nigeria dedicated to providing its clients with prompt and effective legal services. Recently, we profiled the firm as we set out to discover what the future holds for them.

On the theme of success, A Tribe Called Woman is dedicated to empowering women to show-up powerfully, purposefully and collaboratively. Recently, we gained an insight into the successful operations of the coaching consultancy, profiling the work of their team and that of Founder, Karen Heras-Kelly, as she features as one of corporate Vison’s 2018 Ones to Watch in Coaching.

Also in this edition, we learn more about CHIME (Change Happens with Integrity, Motivation and Excellence), the company that promotes the appropriate brand for each client by instigating change. Recently, we sat down with the firm’s Founder, Rebecca Kelly as we discussed more about the outstanding work that the company provides to clients.

Here at Corporate Vision Magazine, we truly hope that you enjoy reading this informative issue and look forward to hearing from you soon.