A Leader Who Ensures You Keep on Smiling

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A Leader Who Ensures You Keep on Smiling

Dania Salha Quaglio started her career from the bottom of the production ladder, and worked her way up to become the Most Instrumental Woman in Media Production 2018 – Dubai. Currently working at Joy Films, which over time has become one of the leading Production houses in the Middle East, Dania provides us an insight into the success of the company, as well as her own accomplishments.

Dania Salha Quaglio gives us an insight into the success of Joy Films, as she features in Corporate Vision as the Most Instrumental Woman in Media Production 2018 – Dubai. Joy Films has become one of the leading Production houses in the Middle East, with connections to different clients from the local and international markets.

“Firstly, I feel really proud to have seen Joy Films evolving into what it has become today. Secondly, it has been a hub for many talented producers, directors and craftsmen, and it is always great to collaborate with the best craftsmen in the local and international markets. All the awards we have won and the acclaim we have received, is a tribute to their dedication as well.”

Discussing her role as executive producer, Dania has had to deal with a lot of people, meaning she must be aware of how personalities gel together to create the best result. Dania elaborates on what challenges she has faced since taking the position.

“As an executive producer, you deal with a lot of people and you need to be aware of how personalities gel together for the favour of our work. One of the main challenges was to find the right people to create a team that cares, and keeps the standards of our work at a very high level. It is crucial to find the right people you can delegate to because in my case, I sometimes find myself having to be in two different film sets in the same time.”

When undertaking a new project, Dania is keen to emphasise how important long-term relationships with clients are to the firm. Being honest with clients and letting them know exactly what is going on is something the team strongly believe in.

“Importantly, when approaching a new project, I always stress on being honest with clients. As I have mentioned before, transparency is key as it allows a way for trust. In this industry, clients and production houses spend most of their days corresponding, so it is important to have a good communication level and build that from a very early stage. As much as the client is demanding on us, I also feel I have to be demanding for them to ensure that they are not side-tracked away from the best product possible.”

Providing us with an overview of the industry in the Middle East currently, Dania mentions that the region is a wonderful location to film in, and is quickly emerging as the place to be in regard to filming.

“The Middle East in general is a great location to film in. As you are aware, many big films were shot in the Middle East throughout history whether international or local films. This region has become a major hub for filmmaking and with the emerging talent, great locations, professional crews and up to date equipment and approaches – there is no reason for great work not to come out of this region.”

In her time as executive producer, Dania has been able to develop her leadership skills, and she alludes to her leadership style, describing how she works hard to get the best out of her clients.

“Leadership is something that is earned and not given. For me personally, there are years of hard work and dedication which has gone into my craft. Leading by example is what gained me my team’s trust to keep improving, which in return helps me to carry out my responsibilities as an executive producer.

“My responsibilities vary from dealing with clients, suppliers and ensuring project consistency to managing my team. Not to mention, all the financial aspects which are connected to this job.

“As a leader, I believe I need to know how to do everything from photocopying to budgeting, in order to be able to explain clearly to employees everything from organisational goals to specific tasks.”

Allowing employees to have their say and giving them the freedom to be innovative and creative, serves the production company well. Dania explains how she pushes her clients to the limit, but the reward is justified as they excel and maximise their potential in their roles.

“Essentially, regarding my staff, I listen to them, to their thoughts, and I learn from them and they learn from me. However, I must admit, when I see things going in the wrong direction, things have to go my way in order to avoid jeopardising any project. I motivate them by pushing their limits, allowing them to do what they think they cannot do, as a result they will feel their improvement and achievements. Also, I delegate to each member of the team what they have to do on each project, and I give them my feedback since I feel responsible for their success and failure. Lastly, I take the blame when something does not go correctly.”

Despite forming a close bond with many of her staff, Dania still feels it important that a line is drawn between the two. She notes that the team are aware that she is the leader, and are keen to respect her authority as well as her responsibilities.

“As a leader, I find it quite challenging sometimes to keep the fine lines of friendship and leading my team intact. However, luckily my team has made it easier on me in that sense, where they are aware of their responsibilities towards me and each other on both the professional and personal front. I always look at the character of the person, interviewing them rather than the successes they have achieved – as good potential, leads to great things, in comparison to a finalised product which tends to come with less flexibility and adaptability.

“Furthermore, our industry is very demanding, with many people sacrificing and compromising on their personal lives for the sake of the team’s success. Since we are all on the same boat, I find it very important to appreciate this and be flexible with the team as much as possible, so they can create the best environment that suits their productivity and creativity. As a collective, we do not believe in strict time and place policies. As I have previously mentioned, establishing trust with my employees is key to us constantly evolving, however, the staff needs to be responsible enough to not abuse this trust. I know myself as a very demanding leader, pushing my team to the limits of their passion to see them grow, as well as constantly learning from their mistakes and individual journeys to empower the collective.”

Having gone into detail in regard to her leadership style, Dania further discusses the attributes she believes make her a wellrenowned, respected, and successful leader. She refers to the key values which she sticks to in order to keep up her success.

“Integrity, passion and a winning mentality are vital assets. I have to maintain the integrity of my craft and not think of the profit rather than the best result possible. This integrity leads to my honesty, I speak my mind when I am not happy with a product or an idea, many people are shocked by it, but then what’s the point of saying anything but the truth!”

Living by her ethos, Dania encourages others to never be afraid to fail, as she always wants others to grasp the next opportunity to learn and grow, but most importantly to remain humble. The future looks very exciting for Joy Films, and Dania predicts bright times ahead for Joy Films. She concludes by discussing the team’s vision, and what her own future holds in the times.

“Ultimately, the vision is to expand our platform to producing feature films and make our own self-produced films. As for me, I will be fetching for opportunities to direct TV commercials and fulfil the artist inside of me.”

Company: Joy Films

Contact: Dania Quaglio

Address: Dubai Studio City, Block 4, Office 505-506, Dubai, UAE

Phone: 00 97155 966 6603

Website: www.joyfilmsme.com

Avoiding Groupthink in the Boardroom

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Avoiding Groupthink in the Boardroom

Mike Taylor, Managing Director of business performance and leadership consultancy Accelerating Experience provides his thoughts on avoiding groupthink in the boardroom.

Corporate boards are entrusted to make sound and informed business decisions on behalf of their employees, shareholders and customers. However, many of the most historic governance failures have resulted from a dominant leader making a decision and those around them supporting it despite their own concerns. This phenomenon, otherwise known as groupthink, often only becomes clear with the benefit of hindsight, when it is all too late.

Take leading car manufacturer Volkswagen for example, shaken to the core after the 2015 diesel emissions scandal. Many have since claimed that it was groupthink that cost the company its reputation, with board members failing to speak up and fight back on the decision to take part in the scheme to sidestep pollution rules.

In recent weeks many concerns have been raised after the sudden departure of WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell. The world’s biggest advertising company faces profound questions about its future direction, waving goodbye to a chief executive that not only built up the company over 32 years, but also was an incredibly dominant leader on the board during that time.

Over the years, boards can become stale and their members can begin to think in unison, failing to challenge ideas or opinions. It can be all too easy to think in this way without even being aware of it, which is why the key to fighting groupthink is preventing it from even happening in the first place. This may seem like a big task, but there are a few simple steps to take to secure the long-term future of a business.  

Creating the right environment

Board members must be encouraged to critique ideas and be urged to challenge the status quo. This not only helps strengthen the business but also builds a greater sense of purpose and worth among board members themselves.  Greater creativity and enthusiasm at this level will also eventually cascade onto the teams below.

Challenging groupthink does entail conversations with opposing ideas, something that doesn’t always sit comfortably with business leaders when they are both giving and receiving the challenge. However, done appropriately and in a positive way, an aspect of constructive challenge is critical in these conversations and must be embraced rather than shied away from.

A business’s culture and bottom line performance is dependent on the conversations that go on behind closed doors in the boardroom. Good conversations between board members will unavoidably contain an element of positive conflict, helping to challenge thinking, provide opposing views and ultimately gather enough information to inform decisions.

Leading by example

A successful business leader must know their team and the way it works best, key to building a team that actively and positively pursues a goal. They themselves must role model the behaviours they want to see in their team and foster a healthy boardroom environment; one which embraces critical thinking and constructive debates.

Perhaps the best way of facilitating this is to diverge and then converge. Brainstorming methods often fail because when groups start throwing out ideas, they actually come up with fewer actionable ideas than if they had worked alone in the first instance. Board members should work alone first to consider problems and ideas, then return to the group to have discussions. This is healthy convergence and will facilitate a far better debate in the boardroom of contrasting ideas, led and managed by the chairman of the board. There is also no reason for these conversations to not take place out of the boardroom as often the best ideas come from a discussion in the coffee queue, or a chat by the printer.

A leader should ensure there is no feeling of a permissive culture in the boardroom. Sometimes there is such hierarchy in companies that some feel they can never challenge the ideas of others, let alone propose their own ideas. That is why the best boards are the ones that appoint a chairman to run meetings, rather than the chief executive who always falls into a trap of leading the discussion and making an overarching decision.

Building the right team

When constructing a board, experience and intelligence are key recruitment criteria. But while boards do not want board members with a groupthink mentality, there is too often a bias toward homogeneity. A lot has been said about the contribution of diverse boards to decision making and the impact this can have on company performance.

A board should reflect the diversity of its senior management, its employees, its shareholders and the communities in which their businesses are located. Both gender and ethnic diversity on boards brings competing standpoints and is an important protection against groupthink at the board level.

However, companies should also look beyond gender and BAME diversity. Creativity and perspective of potential candidates is something that can be too easily forgotten, but are also hugely important. People often say “hire for skill and fire for attitude”, when in fact the attitude and opinions of candidates should be considered from the very beginning too. Having a team with a dynamic mix of personalities, backgrounds, and interests is hugely beneficial towards creating multiple viewpoints, approaches to problems, and indeed, creative ideas.

A room of ten minds that think the same way and come to decisions quickly sounds like an ideal situation, but it is detrimental to a company’s future if it is impacting business decisions. A board simply populated by accountants, probably then not a good idea.

A fresh perspective

While a board may start out with differing opinions and views, it is very easy to fall into a trap of developing a homogenous mindset.  Working in the same industry, in the same jobs and for the same company can lead to a dangerously blinkered focus. This is one of the reasons why fixed terms for non-executive directors is vital and perhaps needs to be looked at in closer detail.

Another great way of avoiding this is to encourage members of the board to have role models or mentors outside of the business circle in which they work. Sports leadership is often a powerful analogy for analysing and interpreting business leaders’ behaviours, such as team work, motivation and people management. The best leaders in sport are highly skilled in self-analysis, emotional control, and maintaining mental clarity, all of which increases their ability to evaluate, comprehend and deal with specific situations.

To refresh and re-energise boards, some recruit one or two members from outside the company’s primary sector. Many businesses will not instinctively welcome this sort of ‘external’ oversight and challenge, but bringing in a fresh perspective is hugely valuable for the long-term health of a business – lending an independent and objective perspective to the board’s decision making. Prior experience of serving on a PLC board is, therefore, not a vital prerequisite to joining a board.

Groupthink is a hidden menace plaguing boardrooms across the country. Almost impossible to identify when you are a part of it, it is critical that leaders step back to consider whether their board is at risk of groupthink, putting preventative measures in place to prevent it from even happening in the first place. Tackling it successfully can give a valuable boost a company’s performance without significant capital expenditure, and as a result improve financial returns. This should be incentive enough to put this at the top of the list of priorities in UK businesses.

Transforming the way Commodities Trading Companies do Business

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Transforming the way Commodities Trading Companies do Business

Aspect Enterprise Solutions is the leading global provider of multi-commodity trade, market data, risk and operations management solutions (ETRM/CTRM) who delivered Softwareas-a-Service (SaaS) in the cloud. We profile the firm as we look to find out more about the innovative solutions the team delivers.

Established in 1999 and with more than 487 customers in 86 countries, Aspect has one of the fastest growing software solutions with rapid deployment, affordable subscriptions, and immediate ROI for all size companies. Its software supports multiple commodities and includes oil, petroleum products, metals, biofuels, coal and petrochemicals.

A forward-thinking company, it is Aspect’s mission to be the ‘go-to’ vendor for multi-commodity trade and risk management software. Its technology has made the company the leading SaaS cloud software as it has been web-based since its launch and was the first of its kind in the industry. Crucial to the success of the company is the team’s ability to provide a more secure solution, and this is a major advantage to clients. The firm’s cloud computing software has higher reliability and security, and since costs are shared by multiple customers, cloud vendors can afford to purchase more powerful and expensive network security systems. This is critical as security of a position keeping system can cost millions.

Another advantage of Aspect’s solutions includes the environmentally friendly nature of its products. Users of cloud software have a much lower carbon footprint, in comparison to their colleagues who are still using older client-server software.

Aspect’s flagship product AspectCTRM is a full-featured E/CTRM suite for front, middle and back office with support for financial and physical trade activity. It is available in three editions: Lite, Standard and Enterprise, expanding in functionality according to the needs and budgets of clients.

Aspect is the only E/CTRM solutions provider with market data and analytics tools delivered with its trade and risk functions on the same platform, for convenient price uploads to CTRM. These factors are just some of the many reasons why AspectCTRM clients include the largest in the world, and also start-ups. Catering to the needs of a variety of clients, Aspect solutions are available on desktop, tablets and mobile devices.

Alongside its superior customer service and expert skillset, the firm has also cultivated an exceptional and professional internal culture. Due to it being the fastest growing CTRM commodity trading and risk management software company, it has been easier for the firm to attract the best staffing talent.

Company: Aspect Enterprise Solutions

Contact: Brigette Gebhard

Address: 10350 Richmond Avenue Suite 310, Houston, TX 77042

Contact Email: [email protected]

Website: www.aspectenterprise.com

How to Become a Figurehead in Accountancy

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How to Become a Figurehead in Accountancy

Simon Dolan of Dolan Accountancy (https://www.dolanaccountancy.com) provides his thoughts on how to become a figurehead in accountancy.

Like many industries, the country’s top accountants have taken a variety of routes to get to the top. But are there some common factors in the success of accountancy leaders? What does it really take to reach the pinnacle of the profession? In this article, we examine how to become a figurehead in accountancy.

Determination and drive

Right from the outset of any career, a high degree of determination and drive is key to getting to where you want. Take Simon Dolan – the businessman and entrepreneur behind the successful business empire which includes the newly formed Dolan Accountancy. Having being thrown out of school at 16 with no idea what he wanted to do, Simon had a number of jobs including selling photocopiers and fax machines. Simon eventually decided to put his energies into accountancy and showed evidence of his motivation to succeed early on, by placing a £10 ad in a local newspaper offering to do people’s accounts. Over the next 20 years this turned into the contractor accountancy firm SJD Accountancy, that Simon sold for £100 million in 2014.

Achieving excellence

Once an accountancy professional moves further up the ladder following an initial qualification or entry-level role, they would typically become the head of their own firm. This is a crucial phase in the career of an accountant who is focused on reaching the top, giving them the chance to make their name by consistently delivering for clients.

A well-run accountancy firm should demonstrate excellence and accuracy in everything they do. This starts with timely bookkeeping which does not stray off track. Whether it’s balance sheets or tax deductions, bookkeeping is central to keeping an accountancy firm ticking over. After all – if an accountancy firm’s owner cannot keep his own company’s books in order, how can he expect clients to trust him with their own accounts?

It is rare that an accountant achieves success without being a stickler for accuracy, and if you are on your way to becoming an industry figurehead, this is one quality which you will need to take with you all the way up to the top.

Gaining an expert understanding

If you want to position yourself as an industry leader, you need to understand your industry from top to bottom. While some accountants might specialise in a certain area, as Simon did with providing a fixed fee accountancy package for contractors. Those who want to become a prevalent voice in their sector need to develop a through understanding of that niche in order to build up an authoritative knowledge base.

Broaden your profile

Having established a reputed accountancy firm, it is now time to start spreading your wings more within the industry. You need a management team which can take the weight of running your business day to day off your shoulders, giving you more opportunity to build your personal brand. That means taking part in speaker programmes at industry events, offering thought leadership pieces to influential publications and getting involved with positive industry initiatives which are launched for the greater good, rather than simply focusing on your own profits.

Transcend the industry

If you want to make what is arguably the final step to becoming a figurehead, you need to transcend the industry itself. That means representing the accountancy sector by taking part in activities which offer exposure to a wider audience. Simon Dolan has competed in the Le Mans 24 Hours race for several years and went on to win it in 2014. Not only did this allow him to become seen as someone who is more than just an accountant, it also won broad exposure for him and his company on a bigger platform than can be achieved in industry-specific spheres. He has diversified his business interests to encompass a wider range of sectors, including computer software, sport and aviation – this has given further prominence, both to him and the industry of accounting itself.

Be a social media success

In today’s digital age, an accountancy figurehead can exploit all of the online avenues available to them in order to enlarge their network and spread their influence. Simon Dolan has excelled in this area, growing to become  a ‘Twitter dragon’, who invests in promising startups which pitch to him via the social media network. Not only is this a good business opportunity for Simon, but it is allowing him to use his position of influence to assist fledgeling businesses.

It can be a long road to the top in any industry, and accountancy is no different. But with a strong work ethic, willingness to learn and ability to embrace new opportunities, it is possible to become an accountancy leader.

Creating a Positive Impact

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Creating a Positive Impact

Ghost Systems, Inc. was organised in January 2014, establishing its worldwide headquarters and NOC/SIC in Nevada, USA to support the Financial Services & Banking; Legal; Healthcare/ Pharma; Critical Infrastructure & Energy; Mid-Market Enterprise and The Internet of Things (IoT) markets. Taking time to tell us more about the innovative company is CEO, Don Ritzman who reveals the secrets behind the firm’s success.

Founded in 2014, Ghost Systems, Inc. established its worldwide headquarters and NOC/SIC in Nevada, USA to support the Financial Services & Banking; Legal; Healthcare/ Pharma; Critical Infrastructure & Energy; Mid-Market Enterprise and The Internet of Things (IoT) markets – the most vulnerable markets for cyber-thefts today.

Ghosts’ SafePlace Ecosystem™ is designed from the ground up to be resilient and “Secure by Design”. The tightly integrated Ecosystem – secure mesh network coupled with Jibberish™, a secure, flexible and user definable interface, which has been third-party tested and is impenetrable – virtually guarantees network infrastructure and the information that is transported across it is secure.

When installed into an organisation, the SafePlace Ecosystem “Ghostifies™” the network and the company that is connected to it, creating a SafePlace™ in which to safely communicate with customers, partners or entire communities of common interest. This dramatically enhances the data availability, confidentiality, and integrity while preventing unauthorised access or theft of digital information – whether inflight or at-rest.

Ghost – in cooperation with a dozen bellwether companies – developed industry-specific workflows. Each workflow is easily added to existing enterprise environments, providing an economical way to ensure all information shared and stored is absolutely secure. There is no other holistic solution available today that employs proprietary technologies to provide such a highly resilient, and secure network & communications ecosystem – Ghost built “The Internet of Trust™.”

Beginning the interview, Don starts by explaining the firm’s overall mission, the steps Ghost Systems, Inc. undertake to ensure the clients receive the best possible outcome, and what differentiates the company from competitors.

Here at Ghost Systems, Inc., our mission is to authoritatively develop and maintain a holistic, future-proof cyber security infrastructure – the SafePlace Ecosystem™. The SafePlace Ecosystem™ is built to the very highest modern standards by a team of highly experienced specialists, using the best-inclass patented technologies that are robust and secure.

“To ensure we succeed in our mission, the company uses six-sigma processes. Where six-sigma doesn’t fit our business processes, we have companydeveloped processes specifically tailored to our business.

“Our key to a successful execution is smart, hardworking people throughout the organisation. With these people in place, Ghost functions like an efficient machine and successfully executes programs that meet our customer’s requirements.

“As for what differentiates us from our competitors, staff and technology are Ghosts two primary differentiators. Ghost has a world-class business and technology team including several of the finest developers of cyber security technologies in the world today. These team members include; a co-author of the Orange Book, a distinguished cryptography and identity expert, and the designer of the first-ever distributed OTP. Our technology is unmatched in the world today. SafePlace is a holistic, cyber-security ecosystem, fully integrated and secure from the ground up to provide the finest cyber-security solution available.

When discussing the industry in his region currently, Don provides us with an overview, going into detail about the challenges and outside influences that are affecting it.

“Security architectures largely grew organically over the past ten years, as organisations addressed a variety of new threats and tactics. This resulted in an army of deployed technologies like firewalls, IDS/ IPS, network proxies, gateways, sandboxes, endpoint suites, etc. Over time, this patchwork approach became more difficult to manage and significantly less effective at blocking legitimate threats. Existing cyber-security problems telegraph what’s needed for security in the future. Specifically, enterprises need a comprehensive solution that offers scalability, protects against both known and unknown threats, automates manual processes, and replaces a patchwork of ineffective tools with an integrated set of security services – in short, they need the Ghost SafePlace Ecosystem.”

Looking ahead to what the future holds for Ghost Systems, Inc., Don reveals what developments he foresees within the industry, and how the firm will adapt around these changes.

“Cybersecurity as a whole, is ever-changing. Cyber-criminals continually invest $billions developing malware. As a result, they are very successful pulling off large cyber-thefts costing billions of dollars in damage and personal losses to hundreds of millions of individuals. This continues to get worse as they gain more knowledge and experience.

“Ghost continually builds cybersecurity solutions capable of preventing their attacks. We invest heavily in R&D, constantly updating cyber-defences using modern techniques and technologies to mitigate cyberattacks. We continually strive to change the fundamental dynamics of the war between cyber-criminals and the good guys, making the Internet, private or public networks safer places for people and businesses to interact, having a positive impact across the World.”

Contact: Don Ritzman

865 Tahoe Blvd, Suite 214; Incline Village, Nevada 89451, USA Primary

Phone: 001 831 459 8199

Website: www.ghost-systems.com

FLIGHTGIFTCARD: GIVE THE GIFT OF TRAVEL

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FLIGHTGIFTCARD: GIVE THE GIFT OF TRAVEL

The world’s only cross-airline flight gift card brand launches in the UK, offering a unique gifting experience and complete booking freedom for travellers

New travel gift brand, Flightgiftcard, has launched in the UK to revolutionise the gifting market.

Flightgiftcard offers Brits the opportunity to give the gift of travel and allows giftees the flexibility to choose and book flights with over 300 full service or low cost airlines.

With no catch and no limitations, Flightgiftcard’s monetary value (minimum £5; maximum £5,000) provides giftees complete freedom to book their desired seat on their preferred date with their airline of choice, to any of 980 destinations in 70 countries worldwide.

Flights often make up the biggest slice of the cost of a holiday, meaning that a Flightgiftcard is ideal for anyone heading off on honeymoon, a sabbatical, or taking a gap year. It’s also a great gift for families looking to lower the annual peak holiday season spend.

As a practical, personal and prized gift, creating memories that will last forever, Flightgiftcard will confer ultimate gifting-cred to anyone struggling with a birthday, wedding, anniversary, thank you, Christmas, retirement or office leaving gift idea.

Lucky recipients of a Flightgiftcard card can find and book flights to suit all budgets and requirements via the Flightgiftcard website.

How Flightgiftcard works:

1.    Purchase a Flightgiftcard online and add the desired monetary value (£5-5,000).

2.    To deliver the delight, choose from a customisable digital gift card that can be emailed to the recipient or printed for hand delivery; a luxury printed gift card with a handwritten message*; or for more impact, record a video greeting to send alongside your ecard.

3.    The Flightgiftcard can be redeemed via the Flightgiftcard website.

For more information or to purchase your Flightgiftcard, visit www.flightgiftcard.com.

Study of Frontline Contact Centre Workers Highlights Their Extraordinary Difficulty in Getting Through to Their Own Management

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STUDY OF FRONTLINE CONTACT CENTRE WORKERS HIGHLIGHTS THEIR EXTRAORDINARY DIFFICULTY IN GETTING THROUGH TO THEIR OWN MANAGEMENT 

– Study of 600 front-end advisors offers unique insights into perspective of frontline staff in the contact centre industry
– 34% of advisors believe morale in the contact centre is low or very low and 52% deemed it simply as “okay”.
– 46% of advisors said a key frustration was not being understood or appreciated for how challenging their job can be.

Contact centre outsourcer Kura and software specialist Inisoft have teamed up with CCA Global to understand the challenges the front-end advisors face in delivering a great service. A study of around 600 advisors paints an up-to-date picture of morale within the contact centre from a frontline perspective. The study finds that frontline workers advising customers find it substantially harder to communicate with management based in the same building than they do with their customers often hundreds of miles away, leading to low morale.

Despite the difficulties, the majority of advisors remain passionate about their role, with 63% saying the best thing about the job is helping customers. This passion for service is coupled with a confident workforce – 86% of agents believe that they have the correct skills to do their job well. This feeling is reinforced by team leaders, 92% of whom are confident in their abilities to perform in the role.

Confidence in skills is in sharp contrast to ease of operation, however. According to the study, 50% of advisors must juggle between 4 and 6 applications to serve customers whilst 37% said they required between 7 and 10 applications to perform their role.

By contrast, there is a real concern that the issues raised by front-end teams are not taken seriously by leadership. Only 44% of team leaders and 36% of agents say that they regularly see changes made after new ideas have been suggested. Worse still, 25% of advisors do not think that their feedback is valued.  Issues such as this have a direct impact on advisor morale. When asked how they view the morale within their contact centre, 34% said it was poor or very poor and 52% deemed it simply as “okay”.

“Advisors are the single most important aspect to the contact centre industry. With this study, we wanted to understand their motivations, challenges and perceptions of the future.”, said Brian Bannatyne, Kura’s Chief Executive. “One of the key things we’ve identified here unsurprisingly is a huge disconnect between insights gathered at the front face of the business and actions at a senior level. As the complexity of the agent role continues to increase, if this disconnect isn’t addressed it will lead to more challenges for organisations in the future.”

58% of team leaders reported finding it challenging to be stuck between the demands of both senior staff and frontline agents, juggling the morale of the advisors against the needs of their supervisors. 

Brian Bannatyne added: “Far too often leaders don’t recognise or appreciate the issues with morale amongst frontline staff.  As much as 35% of frontline advisors feel under-valued, suggesting interventions need to focus on building feelings of value and recognition. Leaders need to build the right organisational culture which is focused on its people and clear routes of communication must be made visible to frontline staff.”

The research finds that among advisors, the most common reason for low morale is pressure on meeting targets. The second is senior staff not understanding or appreciating the difficulties advisors face.   

The study also identified the top 3 things that agents liked best about their job which included being part of a team (79%), helping customers (63%) and achieving good performance (58%).

CCA CEO, Anne Marie Forsyth commented, “Around 1m people in the UK & Ireland work to help customers with millions of enquiries and issues every day. Our research shows we have a very committed, talented and enthusiastic workforce in our organisations and it is important to untap the potential and intelligence available to take customer service and experience to the next level. Organisations that understand this and embrace the talent they have will be those that not only survive but thrive in the future.”

You can download a complimentary copy of this white paper “The Future Workforce – Leaders are you listening?”. – https://www.wearekura.com/future-workforce-leaders-listening/

The Barriers and Drivers Behind Automation in Finance

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The Barriers and Drivers Behind Automation in Finance

Rob Douglas, VP of UKI discusses the barriers and drivers behind automation in finance. 

Automation is essential for operational growth, but for many businesses, automation can feel threatening—making jobs obsolete and altering workforce skillsets. Finance departments have historically been reluctant to get on board with automation but having realised that their outdated and disparate systems are impacting strategy and agility, CFOs are beginning to see its potential. According to a 2014 research study by McKinsey Global Institute, 34 percent of a financial manager’s time could be automated by adapting current technologies. Success will depend on automating the right things, while also infusing teams with the technology savvy and mindset needed to deliver true business agility.

Drivers for automating finance

According to Adaptive Insights’ recent CFO survey, over 40 percent of CFOs say that the biggest driver behind automation in their organisation is the demand for faster, higher quality insights from executives and operational stakeholders. While the speed and timeliness of reporting has always been important, today’s finance leaders are taking a much greater role in running the business. No longer simply meeting compliance and reporting deadlines, they are collaborating with functional leaders across the business to deliver long-range plans that can help deliver greater profitability and managing KPIs on an ongoing basis to track the health of the business.

While a perceived concern relative to automation is the risk to jobs, it often does not eliminate jobs as much as it changes the work. According to the survey, dashboarding/scorecards and planning/forecasting top the list for automation over the next 18 months, yet rank among the lowest areas automated today. For finance teams, this represents a key area for automation as it will likely spell the end for manual data gathering, consolidation, verification and formatting. Today, these non-value-added tasks are estimated to consume almost 80 percent of the finance teams time, leaving just 20 percent for analysis.

As manual, routine processes become more automated, finance teams can expect to have more time for strategic activities like scenario planning, risk assessments, and performance and predictive modelling—the next set of tasks that will greatly be enhanced by artificial intelligence software. The majority of CFOs (89 percent) believe that AI software will have an impact on the finance function in the next five years to help finance more strategically and accurately guide their businesses.

And automation is certainly delivering on its promise. For the most part, 65 percent of CFOs report that automation is meeting expectations—whether that be to deliver faster, more timely insights to stakeholders, making themselves or their teams more strategic, or helping them become more productive. Specifically, CFOs frequently remark that automation has resulted in significant time savings and that it has freed their teams to spend more time on other value-added tasks like analysis. And yet, it is a lack of time that is cited as the biggest barrier to deploying technology by over one-third of respondents, with team skillset and expense rounding out the top three.

However, while CFOs continue to cite time savings as one of the biggest benefits to automation, they also repeatedly highlight improvements in data quality, accuracy and relevancy—all of which have far-reaching impacts on an organisation’s agility and revenue growth. Whether or not this benefit is realised, however, is directly related to the level of automation achieved within an organisation.

Barriers for automation

Despite two thirds of CFOs saying that automation has delivered the expected benefit, there is still a fairly large percentage that believe it has not. But automation itself is not the problem. Rather, too little automation is often cited as the issue. And that doesn’t just mean technology – skillsets and mindsets also play a part. While teams need technology, they also need to be adept at using that technology and have a willingness to embrace it.

According to the survey, issues today arise when some processes are automated while others are not. Also of significance, a lack of integration prevents users from taking full advantage of systems that are in place. For example, reporting becomes a challenge when data needs to be pulled from disparate systems. And, if this information is exported to Excel to be further manipulated, this adds to the time of creating financial reports. 

A recent study comparing companies that had automated at least 70 percent of their business processes to those that had automated less than 30 percent discovered that more automation translated into more revenue. In fact, the highly automated group was six times more likely to have revenue growth of 15 percent per year or more.

When it comes to the human factor, resistance to change and lack of technical savvy inhibit automation deployment. With professional skills top of mind for CFOs in 2018, there are some changes in skills requirements around the bend for finance. Indeed, the drive toward automation promises to have far-reaching impacts on both technology deployment, as well as CFOs’ expectations of team skillsets today and in the future. Whereas two years ago, 78% of CFOs considered proficiency in Excel as the most important skill for their FP&A teams, only 5% feel the same today. Looking ahead, only 7% of CFOs list better Excel skills as important for new hires. Instead, CFOs rated the ability to be adaptable to new technologies as the top skill for new hires, signalling a shift in desired skillsets for finance professionals in the future.

With a combination of both technical savvy and soft skills like analysis, communication and collaboration, finance professionals will be able to deliver on the key drivers toward automation—the need to manage an increasingly complex and growing volume of data, while delivering the strategic reporting and analysis that stakeholders demand.

The future of automation in finance

Moving forward, the CFOs that streamline their processes through automation will be the companies able to deliver the strategic insights needed to address the most complex business issues. Automation has the potential to reveal a path that would otherwise be buried by the day-to-day transactional nature of many finance processes. When combined with finance professionals who are technologically savvy, and adept at communication and collaboration, automation represents the express train to finance transformation—and ultimately—overall business agility.

You Name it, They’ve Got it

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You Name it, They’ve Got it

Globe POS is an RSPA Certified Reseller of technology solutions, dedicated to supporting a wide range of clients across the corporate landscape. We invited President of Globe POS, Paul Leduc to give us further details about the firm’s success, on the back of being named Corporate Vision’s Most Outstanding POS Technology System 2018 within Canada.

Established in 1970, Globe POS operates with an aim to provide clients with the best possible solutions. However, the company is not just content with producing fantastic results, but also wants to deliver an impeccable service. Paul was delighted when the opportunity arrived for him to take over the business, and he has continued to realise his vision of leading the company towards a brighter future.

When the chance came for me to take over the business nine years ago, I knew that I would be building up the business on a solid foundation and be able to add even more products and services to better serve my customers. Our clientele is primarily made up of small to mid-sized businesses, small chains and franchise operations, in the retail and hospitality industries.

“Even though our products and services mainly concentrate on computerised point of sale systems, we offer every other accessory and peripheral that a store or restaurant might need to operate. We only partner up with the very best solution providers like HP and Toshiba for POS systems, Synq; for EAS gates; Geovision; for state of the art cameras; Logivision as a comprehensive and easy to use software solution, GoZone WiFi; one of the most amazing cloudbased marketing tools and most recently, Bizimply: an engagement platform for scheduling and time keeping across many locations, Pointy; an ingenious way that helps local retailers be found online easily and much more.”

Placing an emphasis on putting the client first, Paul has a big vision for the firm, explaining what steps he and his team will take in order to achieve this.

“Here at Globe POS, our mission has always been the same and that is to offer solid solutions that can fully meet our clients’ needs. Being a small enterprise gives us a flexibility that a bigger company might not enjoy. Our team is made up of very dedicated people, whose only goal is to ensure that our customers receive the most effective and professional service possible.”

Differentiating itself from its competitors, Globe POS is able to adopt a personal touch when delivering a service. Taking an individual and unique approach to each client, Paul believes that this is a crucial aspect of the firm’s success, particularly in this technological age.

“While everyone is pushing internet sales and orders, we still have very traditional ways of interacting with our customers. We still take the time to meet current and prospective clients in person. And the fact I used to operate a grocery store, helps me understand what challenges they face. Therefore, when I lay out a plan I have my own experiences and mistakes in mind.”

Regarding the internal culture within Globe POS, Paul tells us how he ensures that all staff are best equipped to provide the best possible service to clients. Aiding the company in its ability to deliver fantastic customer service, the team works hard to attract the very best talent in the industry to the company.

“Honestly, I am very lucky to have a very dedicated, hands-on set of individuals that share my own beliefs. They all bring with them many years of experience and every person specialises in a couple of areas, thus ensuring that our clients are getting support from the very best. As a company, we believe in investing a lot of time and resources in training our employees to ensure that everyone is current with today’s ever-changing technologies.”

Continuing to add well-renowned names to Globe POS’ already impressive portfolio, there is widespread optimism amongst the company that it will continue to exceed client expectations. In his concluding comments, Paul excitedly predicts what the future holds for the company as it looks to build on its successful start to 2018.

“This year has started out really well for us and we expect a pretty exciting year ahead. Our calendar is already quite full, with many Global Pet Foods locations, independent grocery locations and a few more retail locations coming up. Some distinguished names will be added to our growing portfolio family, and over the next few years, our intention is to keep growing in the retail market and expanding into hospitality. Right now, the ratio of sales in hospitality is below 10%, but we hope that by 2021 this will have grown to around 50%.”

Contact: Paul Leduc

Address: 294 Walker Drive, Unit 12, Brampton ON, L6T 4Z2

Phone: (866) 446-2954

Website: www.globepos.ca

A Leading Manufacturer of e-liquids for Electronic Cigarettes in Europe.

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A Leading Manufacturer of e-liquids for Electronic Cigarettes in Europe.

ELDA Ltd is a company that has been successfully operating for more than 30 years. Dario Marenic explains what attributes the firm possesses which contribute to its ongoing success.

Since 2008, ELDA has been active in selling electronic cigarettes and manufacturing e-liquids. The company has been developing rapidly, keeping pace with the fast rise of the e-cigarette industry, and has grown in a short amount of time from a small family company into one of the leaders in the world market.

Typically, the firm works with wholesalers and retailers, and they enjoy working with the team at ELDA, as they assured that they will receive liquids according to their recipes, brand names and design of packaging. Also, ELDA can ensure its clients complete laboratory analyses for e-liquids and electronic cigarettes.

When undertaking a new project, the ELDA team takes certain steps in order to ensure its clients receive the best possible outcome. Dario talks us through his selection process and comments that each individual process is unique.

“Describing what steps we take when approaching a new client, I will introduce you into the selection process of our e-liquids. Market demands become so much complex and sometimes we need to make more than 50 formulas to hit just the right one. Our team of experts every day needs to do extensive testing. After the establishment of the new recipes, our chemical engineers need to make the samples that sometimes must ripe for 30 days. After the ripening process, these samples are carried out to the multiple testing and only the best of them will be chosen.”

Operating with a clear vision in mind, Dario outlines what steps the team takes to ensure it will achieve its overall mission. He emphasises that in order for the product to be released, it has to be considered to be the best product available at the time, and they are the standards that the team sets itself.

“The mission of our company is always the same, as we want to produce the best product on the whole market, alongside offering only the highest quality products and services. In order to achieve this, detailed procedures are undertaken in all other areas of our business. Nothing goes out from the company until it is completely planned and researched.”

A crucial aspect in differentiating the firm apart from its competitors is Dario and the team’s willingness to adapt, invest and make wise choices. He explains how being brave and choosing the right technology is a significant part of the firm’s success.

“Essentially, I think that the main thing which differentiates us from others is that we are always ready to invest in new models of doing the business, like new technology. Most of other companies maybe do not have enough time, money or willing for making the market researches and to investing in new models of business. However, for us, it is of the crucial importance because we know that each good investment will return at least double to us.”

Working within the competitive manufacturing industry, ELDA is importantly able to employ certain techniques which enable it to be successful. Dario comments on the fact that the innovative methods which the team come up with, are major contributors to the success of the company.

“At this moment, the market competition is very strong but the key to success is innovation. Business partners and customers are always searching for better and more quality products, as well as excellent customer service, and ultimately clients will choose the company which can offer it all. Our strategy is to always offer innovative products of the highest quality, and I always try to do my best and be at least one step ahead of others. I am always thinking about the next big thing and where we can improve.”

With this in mind, Dario explains the firm’s approach to hiring staff, and explains how the company attracts the very best talent to work for them. Dario states that the team has motivated, dedicated and ambitious individuals, all of whom have interviewed well, and ELDA was incredibly lucky to find them straight away.

“Until now, we were very lucky on the interviews for the jobs because we could choose highly motivated and educated individuals who are looking for a new knowledge and continuously improvement. With such kind of people, it is possible to achieve great business results. We are always trying to provide our staff all necessary resources, so that they can do their working commitments without any difficulties.”

Looking to the future, Dario is clearly excited about what is to come, and he signs off by commenting on the firm’s future plans of investing in new facilities and achieving the overall goal of success.

“Moving forwards, our plans are to invest in new technology and new production facilities. This is the plan that we always fulfil and after that we set the scale on the higher level. Our goal is to predict the way that the market will be developing and every moment be at least one step ahead of our competitors, in order to offer our business partners and end customers the most innovative products of the highest quality.”

Company: ELDA

Contact: Dario Marenic

Address: Zrinskih 62, Nova Gradiska, 35400, Croatia

Phone: 38535361361

Website: www.elda.hr
 

Bank on its Integrity

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Bank on its Integrity

Situated in Sierra Leone, Rokel Commercial Bank (RCB) is a dedicated, experienced and ambitious bank which features in the Corporate Excellence Awards as the Most Outstanding Commercial Bank within Sierra Leone in 2018.

Established in 1917 as Barclays Bank, RCB works with a vision of creating opportunities for both clients and partners. The Bank currently has 308 members of staff and is being headed by the 4th Sierra Leonean Managing Director and CEO, Dr. Walton Ekundayo Gilpin. Equipped to provide the relevant answers to all members of staff, the bank has a management team of 41 Senior Members of staff. There is an Oversight Committee that performs the role of the Board; it meets regularly to advise on policy matters and approve limits/expenditure outside Managements discretion.

The firm’s mission falls in line with its ethos of providing banking and related financial services in a manner which looks to go far and beyond customer expectations. Throughout the bank, the team builds strong, lasting and satisfying relationships with customers, employees, shareholders and the communities in which the bank operates.

Well-renowned throughout the industry, RCB is famous for its innovation in terms of the products and services that it offers. Across all its branches, the firm provides real time banking services which are supported by VSAT Connectivity and the concept of banking with the bank is manifested throughout all its impressive network of branches.

At Rokel, people are not only doing business, but they can take comfort in Banking on integrity. Crucial to the success of RCB is the banks unrivalled customer service, with managers available at all times, whether it be for a query or a discussion, and they serve as a focal point in providing excellent services at all times.

Rokel Commercial Bank’s senior management team comprises professionals with extensive experience in the financial services industry, and is capable of providing all forms of banking support services.

Taking on responsibility, the Directors are accountable for keeping proper accounting records which disclose with reasonable accuracy at any time the financial position of the Company, and to enable them to ensure that the financial statements comply with International Accounting Standards and the requirements of the Companies Act 2009. They are also responsible for safeguarding the assets of the Company, and for taking reasonable steps for the prevention and detection of fraud and other irregularities.

Within Sierra Leone, RCB is the dominant bank in the market place providing about 25% of all banking business in the country. Financially, the firm currently hold in excess of 155,000 accounts with a yearly growth of 10%.

Interestingly, in terms of its origins, ‘Rokel’ is the name of the longest river in Sierra Leone that empties into the Atlantic Ocean. This depicts the greatness of the Bank as a gateway to Banking in Sierra Leone.It thus follows that Rokel River by virtue of its prominence in the country and the bank because of its geographical spread, the Bank has been referred to as the Gateway to Banking in Sierra Leone.

Additionally, it is worth knowing that Rokel Bank is the only bank in Sierra Leone that reassuringly conveys to the public that integrity is the underlying philosophy for all its operations, and this is a key factor in helping it to stand out as the best possible option for clients, businesses and partners. It is displayed prominently on all of the Bank’s promotional materials. This is evident in the growth of the Bank, the Bank’s customer base and work force and has maintained a steady growth over the years.

Ultimately, RCB sets out its vision, mission and overall targets, and the staff throughout the firm work exceptionally hard to deliver on its promises and enhance the bank’s already sterling reputation. Adaptable and versatile, RCB believes in going the extra mile to surpass client expectations.

Contact: Millicent Cole, Head Corporate Affairs and Customer Services

Address: 25/27 Siaka Stevens Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone, PO BOX 12, Sierra Leone

Phone: 0023222222501

Website: www.rokelbank.sl

Top Tips to Overcome Work-Related Stress

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Top Tips to Overcome Work-Related Stress

Hitesh Dodhia, Superintendent Pharmacist at PharmacyOutlet.co.uk, offers his top tips for managing work-related stress.

April being Stress Awareness Month gives us all an opportunity to evaluate how stress affects our lives. While stress is typically a natural reaction to high-pressure situations, the symptoms can have serious consequences on your emotional, physical and mental health if left untreated.

With Brits spending on average 43.8 hours a week in the workplace, stress can commonly be instigated in response to mounting pressure from the office, be it due to tight deadlines or a competitive work environment. A survey recently revealed that almost six in 10 employees feel stressed because of their work. This not only has an impact on an employee’s wellbeing, it can also undermine workplace relations and have a significant impact on general productivity.

What are the symptoms of stress?

Minor symptoms such as grinding teeth, muscle tension and headaches are a clear indication of stress, and if not tackled from the onset, can turn into more serious problems such as depression and anxiety. Indeed, stress can easily snowball when prolonged and can contribute to long-term health problems such as high-blood pressure and even memory loss.

There are, however, short-term benefits to stress when the body enters “fight or flight” mode. By keeping you alert and aware of your physical surroundings, positive stress (or eustress) focuses your mind and can be used to positively address a high-pressure situation, such as a job interview or business pitch.

How does stress affect businesses?

With 12.5 million working days lost last year due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety, it is clear how these issues can have a significant impact on business productivity. This affects not only employees but also people in senior leadership positions. In fact, a recent study found that a third of company owners completely lose motivation to continue running their business due to stress once a year.

So, what can be done?

To help business leaders and employees stop stress from snowballing out of control, here are some useful pieces of advice:

1. Understand the root causes of stress

Without properly assessing where the feelings of stress are coming from, staff can often feel helpless and under constant pressure to perform. This also will cause the body to release unstable levels of hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline – which in high doses causes high blood pressure, muscle weakness and mood swings.

Therefore, the first response for anyone feeling overwhelmed at work is to find out why they are feeling that way. Are there too many tasks for you to get through? Is your boss setting unrealistic targets? Or is the company culture too adversarial? These are useful questions to ask to help identify where the root causes of work-related stress lies.

An easy way to answer these questions is to keep a journal of your day-to-day life. This will allow you to identify the causes of office stresses, and then successfully build strategies around the root cause.

2. Knowing your limits

Regardless of what position you hold within a company, it is important to know your limits. This is especially true for employees who often feel obligated to say “yes” to everything, in fear of not getting a promotion or not being liked. But by saying “yes” to all requests, employees will face the adverse effect of overworking – meaning that work is rushed and often not produced to the required standard.

Employers are also in danger of overworking. Often feeling protective of their business, C-level personnel can fall into the trap of holding onto too many responsibilities. Either from not trusting new recruits or through a desire to achieve a particular vision, company leaders can divert time away from focusing on growing the business to instead becoming absorbed in day-to-day admin. Employers, therefore, need to make sure that they don’t overwork themselves – resulting in stress and a potential lack of growth for the business, which in turn can exacerbate existing anxieties.

3. Take breaks and relax outside of work

It may seem counterproductive but taking breaks and relaxing between tasks can help reduce stress and increases productivity. With a survey last year finding that the average British attention span is 13 minutes long, working without breaks can result in higher levels of stress, and also cause creative parts of cognitive processes to shut off.

Sensible breaks after completing a task are, therefore, necessary to keep our brain focused. Otherwise, resources will be depleted, and employees will find their propensity to make easily avoidable mistakes unnecessarily high.

4. Putting things in perspective

Putting work situations in perspective can help alleviate pressure in a job. Especially when dealing with a hostile work environment, cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness techniques can change how you think about a stressful situation. Rather than getting bogged down by office politics, these techniques can help change how you think about a situation, allowing you to resolve stressful situations.

5. Keeping a tidy desk and sitting upright

It might seem simple, but it has been proven that people can lower stress levels by keeping their workspace tidy. Particularly important for those with desk-based jobs, keeping the area where you do your work clean and organised can make an immediate difference. Another tip: having a good posture also helps – rather than slumping or slouching, employees ought to sit more upright as it has been shown to encourage a more positive mentality.

6. Other lifestyle changes

Other good pieces of advice include exercising more, which helps relieve stress; avoiding stimulants such as nicotine, alcohol and caffeine, which can exacerbate stress-related issues; and making sure you get plenty of sleep.

Despite stress being a common experience at work, these tips should help ensure feelings of anxiety do not get out of control. However, if you still experience long-term stress even after using these tips then either talk to your HR department or a medical professional to receive further advice.