Issue 12 2022 Adapt Or Die In an ever-changing world, businesses need to adapt quickly to survive. Agile working is crucial to this, and the team at Adventures with Agile know this better than anyone. Under the leadership of Founder and CEO Simon Powers, the firm has achieved amazing success. Adventures with Agile Featuring:
Welcome to the December issue of CEO Monthly. As always, CEO Monthly is dedicated to providing the latest news and features across the business world to our readership. By sharing knowledge, insights, expertise and success stories from around the globe, we aim to inspire individuals and promote positivity in a world that is in a constant state of evolution. As we inch closer to the end of the year, the world of business remains an ever-changing, fastpaced one, and it’s crucial that businesses know how to stay ahead of the curve. In this issue, we feature some truly exemplary businesses that are doing just that, from a creator of virtual cities; to a cutting-edge design agency; to a company making businesses ‘future-fit’; to a platform that enables businesses to hire and retain great staff; to a supplier of life-saving work supplies; and more! Our cover star, CEO of the Year, 2022 - United Kingdom, London, Simon Powers knows all about the importance of agility in being a market leader, as shown through his work with his company, Adventures with Agile. Having worked in static, unyielding working environments in the past, Simon knew something had to change. So, we explore his mission to transform the world of work and the culture of businesses to inspire them to change the workplace for the better. We hope you find the stories shared in this issue insightful and inspiring. Now, all of us at CEO Monthly wish you a very prosperous month ahead and we look forward to seeing you again in the new year. Rebecca Scotland, Editor Website: www.ceo-review.com AI Global Media, Ltd. (AI) takes reasonable measures to ensure the quality of the information on this web site. However, AI will not assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, correctness or completeness of any information that is available through this web site. If errors are brought to our attention, we will try to correct them. The information available through the website and our partner publications is for your general information and use and is not intended to address any particular finance or investment requirements. In particular, the information does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by us or any of our partner publications and is not intended to be relied upon by users in making or refraining from making any investment or financial decisions. Appropriate independent advice should be obtained before making any such decision. Any arrangement made between you and any third party named in the site is at your sole risk and responsibility.
4. News 6. Adventures with Agile: Adapt Or Die 8. Exarta Limited: Three Steps Ahead of Web3 9. Alibris, Inc.: High Quality Content, Low Costs 10. Humand: People Power! 12. It’s Time to Talk About Mental Health by Amelia Walker 14. Asuria: International People Services Chairman of the Year 2022: Con Kittos 16. NJI Media: Challenge the Status Quo 17. Europ Assistance: The Culture of Continuous Development & Social Consciousness 18. Emergent Safety Supply: Life Saving Supplies 19. PeopleMaps: Business is all About People 20. ENVI - PAK, a.s.: Work with Meaning 21. Forward Feature: Coping With Financial Uncertainty and Retaining Talent Will Be the Measure of Success for CEOs in 2023 22. Winston Weber & Associates: A Unique Expertise in Retail Consultancy 24. Charco Neurotech: A CEO with a Vision for The Future 25. BGIS: An Innovative Leader of Facility Management 26. Luna PR / Luna Media Corporation: Most Influential Entrepreneur (UAE): Nikita Sachdev 27. Winners’ Listings Contents
NEWS Pure Retirement Supports Brave Starts Report Which Calls for Career Development for Over 50s
Three-time Great British Entrepreneur of the Year winner, who successfully pitched on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den, has launched his fourth successful business venture. Matt Jones, who built and sold one of the UK’s top advertising agencies in October 2019 before launching a men’s skincare business and appearing on Dragons’ Den, is now enjoying success with a fourth company. Cardiff-based Rebel Lion Advertising which launched in 2022 has already surpassed the six- figure turnover mark and has an impressive client list of businesses across the UK. Rebel Lion was set up by Matt to be a disruptor to the traditional marketing agency. With their motto ‘designed to do things differently’, they flip the script by using innovative and creative methods to set brands apart from others in their sector. Rebel Lion use their three disciplines of Advertising, Growth, and Creative to get their clients results with significant impact. Rebel Lion have taken on several clients that are challenger brands to their industry or have a strong purpose and story. Clients Suppology, a nutrition company aimed at athletes that has set up the ‘Band of Brothers’ campaign to open up the dialogue around men’s suicide; Bettermen Coaching founder Dan Stanley who has published his book ‘Rethinking Masculinity’, enabling good men to lead better lives; and industry- challenger Mrs Buckét cleaning company. CEO of Rebel Lion Advertising Matt said: “The team at Rebel Lion Advertising are communication specialists that are obsessive about doing things differently. We only want to work with the most innovative, progressive brands that have the agility and foresight to try new ways of engaging audiences. Our success, I think, is down to this ethos. Our clients are open to trying new things, which is fantastic for our agency and their results.” Rachael Flanagan, CEO of Mrs Buckét said: “We wanted to focus on how Mrs Buckét is committed to changing the face, and practices, of commercial cleaning, so Rebel Lion Advertising’s ethos of being ‘designed to do things differently’ really sang to our intention. They have taken both us as abrand, andmyself, out of our comfort zones, encouragingly pushing us into uncharted territory. The result was a campaign to celebrate our launch as a national business as we push further into the UK, expanding our horizons and potential. Rebel Lion Advertising captured what our business is about.” Rebel Lion Advertising, which has recently opened an office in London has plans to further expand. Matt continues: “The future looks exciting for us. We are currently recruiting for content creators to service our growing client base and we are gaining notoriety for our campaigns, so I am looking forward to the next twelve months.” Notes to Editors Rebel Lion Advertising is headquartered in Cardiff. Matt Jones is CEO of Rebel Lion Advertising, a mental health advocate, featured on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den, and runs several businesses including MESOA Skincare. For more information, please visit https://rebel-lion.agency/ or contact Charlie Grabham at Phrase Creative [email protected] / 0790 424 7411 Serial Entrepreneur and three- time Great British Entrepreneur of the Year launches fourth successful business. A report highlighting the benefits of embracing an older workforce has earned the support of equity release specialists Pure Retirement. The landmark report titled Unlocking the Value of an Ageing Workforce has been published by Brave Starts, a not-forprofit organisation which champions the over 50s. The report focuses on how organisations can better leverage, engage and support the opportunity provided by the ageing population. Pure Retirement are promoting awareness of the report amongst employers and the over 50s workforce. Rachel Pease, Head of Marketing at Pure Retirement says: “Brave Starts have created an invaluable research report on the ways that organisations can support their older workforce, and at Pure Retirement, we’re happy to help promote this to the wider market. We work closely with customers over the age of 50 and we have a good understanding of their financial needs. So, we’re keen to support other organisations who are making strides to improve the lives of our customer group.” Lucy Standing, founder of Brave Starts explains: “Our report highlights the benefits for organisations of embracing an older workforce, as well as the ways in which they can make a real difference in engaging and developing them in their ongoing careers.” She adds: “there is good news: most of what can be done to attract and retain workers over 50 is about being strategic – it’s not about spending lots of money. Words and actions can make a lot of difference and our report details some specific and constructive ideas about how to go about this.” “The report also focuses on the things we can all be doing in order to make a difference.” The key findings of the report Unlocking the Value of an Ageing Workforce are: • The biggest driver for people in their 50s is doing work which offers them a sense of purpose. The biggest barrier people face when planning for their working future is simply ‘not knowing what to do next.’ This factor alone was almost twice as significant as any other. • What the over 50s want most from organisations are chances to learn more about what opportunities are open to them next and have time to learn about them. This is best understood by encouraging career conversations. The need for flexible work will continue to rise as we age. • The majority of practical steps an organisation needs to take can be achieved with little or no cost. Organisations need to recognise the value of age and actively support the career planning process of employees as they get older. • With an ageing workforce the entry point into organisations needs to extend from being ‘graduate only’ to more career change schemes. • Ageism is widely felt as the second biggest barrier faced when trying to find work. Brave Starts offers basic membership for those in later life who would like ongoing career development support, as well as support for organisations who would like to develop their internal capabilities for supporting older workers.
CEO MONTHLY / ISSUE 12 2022 6 Adapt Or Die In an ever-changing world, businesses need to adapt quickly to survive. Agile working is crucial to this, and the team at Adventures with Agile know this better than anyone. Under the leadership of Founder and CEO Simon Powers, the firm has achieved amazing success. Named CEO of the Year, 2022 - United Kingdom, London in CEO Monthly, we caught up with Simon to find out more about what drives him forward, and what has kept him and his team at the forefront of the agile revolution. hen things go wrong, it’s easy to assume that other people are to blame. This is especially true of those in leadership positions. These businesses are often run by people who struggle to adapt to changing circumstances. In the modern world, change is not only the only constant, but happening at an increasingly fast rate. Change happens at the top, no matter how big the organisation, and the team at Adventures with Agile are ideally equipped to bring that change to life. For corporates, governments, charities, and other large entities around the world, this small but mighty firm has managed to establish itself as a pioneer in the world of agile working. Over the years, the team have specialised in building safe spaces for growth, innovation and risk management. While many leaders believe that agile is for software, it is very much a mindset that involves an entire business. There are enormous benefits that can come from this way of working if leaders are willing to take the first step into uncertainty. Guiding people to run businesses better is something that Simon Powers feels passionately about. “I had spent many years working in organisations and as a freelancer, going in and doing work,” he tells us, but after six months, I’d lost enthusiasm for the job. It was always the same old problems. I started questioning myself: “Why did I start moving jobs every six months and so on? Is it me? Is it the people? Is it the technology? I loved them all.” For Simon, the world of work was one which was inherently static and inflexible. Once established and successful, many businesses don’t change because they don’t see the need to. “It occurred to me that it was the culture of most organisations that are so dead,” he explains. “We come into the office with a quarter of ourselves. No wonder I wasn’t happy because I like to bring my full self to whatever I do, and I had to leave half of that at home. I had a choice. Either put up and shut up, quit work altogether, or do something about it. Change the world of work, change the culture of our organisations.” Change is not easy in any situation, but it was a new challenge which Simon brought his full self to. Uncertain if he was the only Oct22151 W one, he organised a business leaders’ meetup, with a guest speaker who would talk about culture and work. Eighty people turned up. “I realised that everyone feels like this,” he says with a smile. “So many people have wanted to make a difference to their way of working. I thought I was alone, but loads of them were interested.” From these humble beginnings, the meetups continued. They soon grew from a passion project into the thriving success that is Adventures with Agile. The business offers impressive
CEO MONTHLY / ISSUE 12 2022 7 enterprise and team coaching to executive teams and HR departments. Over the years the team have managed to transform how firms operate. “It’s not about people doing a good job,” Simon tells us. “A good job can be the wrong job to do. It’s about finding new ways to adapt to new situations.” Since founding the business in 2013, Simon and his team have had to learn and adapt quickly. Whilst many competitors focus on implementing standard processes and frameworks, Adventures with Agile has always prioritised staff capability. “It seemed to me that there is one common element in every organisation, and that is people,” Simon tells us. “Our values come from a deep understanding of how people face, embrace, or reject change. Our models and approach are based on a deep respect for people, and a belief that most people want to do the right thing, work hard, and create great products, services, and experiences” The successful expansion of Adventures with Agile has been a direct result of this approach. “Enabling and empowering people has always worked in an organisation’s favour,” Simon observes, “and when coupled with our belief of thinking big and starting small and incrementally, we have been able to grow ourselves and our clients progressively whilst keeping risk and disruption low.” Perhaps one of the keys to the team’s success is the way in which they view themselves as partners as opposed to purely consultants. If a business is not interested in change, then Adventures with Agile will not work with them. “We have been able to grow a strong loyal culture across our network through authenticity and inclusion and have been able to keep adapting without burning out through our use of our own models and approaches,” Simon tells us. This commitment to authenticity not only keeps the team grounded, but has allowed Simon and his team to develop a tremendous reputation within the industry at large. Simon’s team haven’t had the need to engage in traditional sales activities. Instead potential clients approach the team, having heard about them through others. “Our business is about people and that means relationships are everything,” Simon says. “This starts from the first interaction with our clients and usually lasts many years. We attract the right clients who resonate with our approach as they read our thought leadership about organisational change and want us to create that capability inside their own organisations.” Because one of the core aspects of agile is creating the space to make that change, it’s easy to see why many company leaders struggle to adapt to the challenges the team present. Like many businesses, Adventures with Agile had to change dramatically as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our coaching and training were all in-person,” Simon explains. “Overnight, we lost all our sales.” With a full staff to maintain, Simon and the Adventures with Agile team did what they do best. They adapted. They changed. And they did it fast. They were the first organisation in their sector to offer courses publicly online, a mere six weeks after the announcement came through. “I attribute this incredible turn around to our company culture and our ability to enact the agile ways of working that we help our clients with,” Simon says, proudly. The continued success of Adventures with Agile has driven massive changes in how the team operates. It has also empowered the team to make new and exciting decisions. “The most significant shift for us in the next twelve months though will be the formation of a new organisation to allow our existing AWA global brand to focus on training,” Simon explains. “The new organisation will focus on supplying highly trained coaches to work inside of organisations to build their change and coaching capability. Unlike the larger consultancies we are not offering to do the change for our clients, we are instead helping them build internal capability so they can make the changes they need themselves.” For Simon, therefore, the future is bright indeed. “As we grow, I am learning more about myself and how I conduct business,” he tells us. “I love learning for learning’s sake and each year I like to take on a new personal challenge to learn something new.” He has just released his book, “Change”, a guide to enterprise agile coaching. Looking forward, he’s planning to spend his time writing more articles and white papers around human-led change. As the world continues to adapt in the post-pandemic world, it’s clear that the guidance of people like Simon is going to be crucial. “The reason we are successful is because we do what we teach others,” Simon says as we round off our interview. “We eat our own cake. By embodying what we teach we have not only proven our approach works for our clients, we have proven it works through our own company.” For Simon, agile isn’t just an approach which applies to business. It’s one which will begin to shape the world in which we live. “Nobody knows what the future will hold. There’s enormous ambiguity – things aren’t clear and still have to navigate through. There’s no perfect route, but agility gives a way to everyone as far as possible.” We can’t wait to see more of the world he hopes to create come to life. Company: Adventures with Agile Name: Simon Powers Email: [email protected] Web Address: www.adventureswithagile.com
CEO MONTHLY / ISSUE 12 2022 8 Three Steps Ahead of Web3 The dream child of three friends, Exarta Limited is a metaverse company whose output and services are lightyears ahead of anything else on the market. At the helm is Rashid Ali, and thanks to his leadership Exarta is poised to take the Web3 space by storm. xarta’s story began in 2014 with three friends with a shared interest in tech, sci-fi, gaming, and community. Their dream is to create world-class visualisation and immersive experiences on robust architecture. At the head of making the dream reality is Rashid Ali, and that dream became Exarta Limited, a Web3 company providing uniquely powerful architecture and support for metaverse projects. Sat firmly at the forefront of the Web3 revolution, Exarta is set to use Web3, blockchain technology and artificial intelligence to seamlessly transition retailers, organisations, and individuals into the Metaverse. Its services are designed to enable users to speedily onboard brands using its proprietary services. Exarta seeks to facilitate faster times to market at a fraction of the cost it takes to build on current metaverses, offering payment with both fiat and crypto. With the Web3 space still in its infancy, so many global organisations are exploring this space quite warily. Rashid wishes for those organisations to have the same confidence in Web3 as he and Exarta have. The team passionately believes the Web3 space will dominate in the coming years and eventually will be on par, if not replace the internet as we know it today. As such, Exarta is different to other organisations in this space; Exarta has a vision of a safe, secure, and private platform that will provide all utilities for businesses and users to thrive. It is creating environments that have not been completed or at least not to its standard or vision, so everything is researchdriven, andmuch time goes into this from start to finish; some technologies have not caught up yet, so it has to try to create a new piece of technology, this can be a challenge at times, this has an impact in timelines, but it alsomeans it will be a leader in its field. In this endeavour, Rashid’s leadership is crucial. Under his guidance, Exarta has already become a global organisation with offices in Asia and Europe, with an expansion into the Middle East and the USA still incoming. Exarta has clients and partners from all regions and industries thanks to this expansion. Subsequently, Rashid has had to adapt the style of leadership he has deployed to accommodate cultural differences and different industry norms. It has been a challenge that he rose to multiple times, and his style has further changed since he completed his Master’s in business administration with these requirements in mind. A perfect example is Rashid’s steps to ensure safety and high morale in his staff. He believes that the employees are Exarta’s most important asset, so he has guaranteed that Exarta is a safe workplace and provides an environment conducive for employees to deliver. The culture Rashid and the founding team has built is one of unity, family, and close collaboration, one where everybody is just a call away. It provides all the resources they need to deliver on projects but also areas within its global offices to relax and socialise with each other. Rashid is at the precipice of a fundamental change in Web3 development, and his every action ensures that the company is ready for the following stages of it and the company’s growth. He will continue to lead by example as these changes become more visible in the coming months and years. Meanwhile, he and the Exarta team welcome anybody interested in the space to reach out, even if it is to learn about the space and how it will impact nearly every industry. The Web3 revolution is coming, and Exarta Limited’s moves to stay ahead have ensured it will lead the way. Contact: Rashid Ali Company: Exarta Limited Web Address: https://exarta.com/ Email: [email protected] Oct22117 E
CEO MONTHLY / ISSUE 12 2022 9 Mar22259 High Quality Content, Low Costs Alibris is the premier online marketplace for independent sellers of new and used books, music, and movies, as well as rare and collectible titles. It connects people who love books, music, and movies to more than 250 million items from thousands of sellers worldwide. CEO Monthly has recognised the company’s CEO, Anindo Dey, with his career spanning over 25 years in publishing, digital content, and education, as CEO of the Year, 2022 - Vancouver, Canada. Join us as we learn more about the company and Anindo’s career. Headquartered in Berkeley, California, with other offices in Sparks, Nevada, and Vancouver, British Columbia, Alibris spans multiple channels and verticals with amain focus in consumer retail and B2B partnerships. It is a platform integrated with many larger retailers such asWalmart and eBay, selling books and other products, and offering great prices to students – thus becoming a critical platform for keeping their education costs low– as well as a range of other customers, including young adults, parents, and grandparents. Alibris continues to thrive as a strongly independent business – thanks to the loyalty of millions of customers and business partners, and the incredibly capable and dedicated business, technical, and support staff whomake it all happen –while not falling victim to an industry dominated by the biggest retail giants. This independence enables the company to be run by a diverse workforce that sells products without prejudice and for everyone’s consumption. Indeed, the employees of Alibris are the key to its success. Many of themhave worked at the company for more than five years, with some even for longer than 20 years, so they bring an enormous amount of knowledge tomaintaining andmanaging its technology, content, and customers. Anindo Dey tells us, “Our business is over 25 years old andmuch of our platform is highly complex, built in parts over decades, so a new person will need time to understand. We seek people who are patient and capable of learning withminimal support, feel comfortable working in a diverse environment, and have a passion for books and related content.” He continues, “Our internal culture reflects my open style of working where my door is always open for debates, discussions, and discourse. Any employee can (and they do) reach out to me at any time and their performance is gauged on the basis of individual and teammerit.” Anindo does lead the team with an open and inclusive style, having done so consistently for over two decades, as manager at various stages. He shares, “I recognise that my team is a collection of people with expert knowledge in their respective fields and it is my job to create an environment in which they have the freedom to express their choice and creativity. I have a small but diverse team withmixed-race, multi-religion, and LGBTQ employees and talking freely and openly about topics that are important to everyone is encouraged. “This is a big change from my early years as a manager where I had a largely singlerace male dominated team. However, even then, employees were encouraged to voice their concerns in an open manner. Later in a subsequent business, I had some oversight with cross-national, multi-ethnic, and multi-gender teams. What was common in all these scenarios was that if employees were given the freedom to express their choice, their performance increased manifold and that was always highly encouraging for me.” Anindo goes on to tell us about the challenges that have come with his career: “The biggest challenge to the business in the early days was the decline of the books business in the face of increased digitisation from academic and trade publishers. We adapted by partnering with one of the world’s largest eBook and digital content suppliers and started selling these products on our platform. “Covid helped bring focus back to books of all genres and Alibris benefited. However, the onset of recession, high interest rates, declining academic enrolment, and out of control gas prices are posing a big challenge. Retail businesses are suffering from a decline in online purchases as more people are setting money aside for a rainy day. People are also buying less books as they spend more time outdoors. All of these are challenging but we have converted this to an opportunity by partnering more on the B2B side of the business to diversify and gain access to more customers.” Current recessionary pressures are forcing all businesses to hunker down and reduce exposure to market volatility, and Anindo’s plan is to focus on keeping the business stable in 2022 and then focus on growth in 2023. Alibris is in a very strong position to exploit market conditions as the world comes out of recession, so sentiment is very bullish. With regard to his own career, Anindo tells us, “The work I do at Alibris perfectly complements my own ambitions which are to ensure the business continues to play strongly in this space and maintain independence.” Company: Alibris, Inc. Contact: Anindo Dey Email: [email protected] Website: www.alibris.com Oct 32
CEO MONTHLY / ISSUE 12 2022 10 People Power! In today’s world, organisations need to act with purpose and with high impact as much as possible. Erika Giorgana is Humand CEO & Founder, as well as a passionate believer in the power of people and the impact they can have on businesses. Named CEO of the Year, 2022 – London, the United Kingdom, by the team at CEO Monthly, we thought it was the right time to catch up with Erika to uncover more. ounded just five years ago, Humand had already managed to establish itself as a leading player, especially when companies are looking for people who can revolutionise the way they work. Businesses will need to find ways of becoming simpler, faster, and more flexible, and achieving this will require the right people in the right positions. Big companies struggle because they cannot always provide a boutique service – one perfectly matched to the needs of the business. That’s where Humand thrives. Humand offers a way of achieving large-scale business transformation, leveraging digitalisation and agility to help organisations from every industry and of any size to reconfigure their operating models. For them, however, it’s not the technology that is most important to achieving success. It’s the people. That’s the secret that has allowed its CEO & Founder, Erika Giorgana, to thrive in an immensely competitive sector. Erika has overseen growth at a tremendous rate whilst at Humand, building on her own deep experience at the frontline of organisational agility. Her strength of purpose has seen her partner up with many passionate leaders, all of whom are thinking towards the future of what business can and will be. “We are consultants, but we have a strong ‘why’, behind everything that we do,” Erika explains. “Our Purpose is to mobilize organizations into Purposeful and High-Impact Human systems. At Humand, “we sell what we do.” Since opening the company’s doors, Erika has managed to build an incredible team of experts around her who not only share her dream, but have her passion for the field. “We collaborate, experiment, innovate, and deliver value at speed,” she says with a smile. “We are not just advisors – we work hand in hand with our client’s transformation teams to make what they believe is almost impossible, possible.” Erika doesn’t just offer empty words when it comes to growth. She applies the same techniques to her clients as she does to her own company. Whilst the big firms such as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain bring their own reputations and brand recognition to the table, she has immense experience on her side, not just on how to support these businesses, but on how to support her own staff. These thoughts have very much guided her approach to running her own business. “I believe top-down leadership is outdated, and, more importantly, counterproductive,” she tells us. “Unfortunately, there are still too many organisations and leaders that haven’t realised that by focusing too much on profit and end goals, and not on people, whether it’s employees or consumers, they are making it more difficult to achieve their own desired outcomes.” In Erika’s experience, leadership has to change in order to ensure that businesses are able to thrive in an ever-changing world. “A leader’s main responsibility is to help people feel purposeful, motivated, and energised so they can bring their best selves to work,” she tells us. “It is not easy to achieve this. It takes hard work and new mindset. Every day I try to do my best to be a servant leader, to be humble and to do everything that is in my hands to help the people from my team grow as human beings, providing tangible and emotional support as they do so.” As a result, Humand has been able to develop a team atmosphere where anyone and everyone feels welcome to contribute to the group. Instead of everyone being siloed into specific tasks, the company structure builds on each person’s strengths and Oct22207 F accepts their weaknesses. “At Humand, we’ve realised that we can’t transform businesses and provide a world class experience without talented and passionate people,” Erika explains. “Once we find the best talent, we make sure we give them the freedom and foundation to shine at their brightest.” This structure has allowed the team to make quicker decisions better than many other consultancies. There are no hierarchies, with the business built around multiple empowered teams. Each is responsible for specific clients, with the ability to set their own objectives, key results and backlog. These small but powerful teams are multidisciplinary, meaning that a mix of skills is always on hand. Working in this agile fashion has allowed Humand to support clients through varying challenges with a consistent degree of success. “This, I believe, creates an atmosphere that encourages everyone to be themselves and be at their best,” Erika tells us. The results certainly speak to this sterling effort. The challenge for Erika, however, remains finding top talent to support her and the team she has been proud to build. “For us finding the right skills is super important, but not everything,” she explains. “We also need people who
CEO MONTHLY / ISSUE 12 2022 11 match our values, vision, and, most importantly, our purpose. If there’s anything the last few years has taught us is, it’s that skills are important, but people who share your vision and are aligned to your purpose can not only grow within the organisation but grow the organisation. So, finding the combination of the two is our biggest challenge.” Whilst it’s clear that people are at the heart of Humand, technology has an increasingly important role to play. “During the past three years, at Humand, we have been experimenting with more technology-heavy offerings,” Erika tells us. “One of our most important has been the development of an online tool that allows our customers make their agile people ecosystem come to life. Our platform helps companies create agile HR processes and build responsive teams through a skill-based approach.” Development of this exciting idea is still ongoing, with 2023 seeing the launch of a new and improved version of this platform. For Erika, her team, and her clients, it’s certain to be a gamechanger! Looking forward, Erika plans to continue on a path of pushing into bold new territory and exploring brave new ways of working. “If I assume that my experience of the last 16 years is what’s going to help me be successful in the next few, I would be very wrong!” she laughs. “I know that what got me here will not necessarily get me there. So, my plans for the future are basically focused on listening to our clients’ needs, and continuing to innovate and learn new skills.” Company: Humand Name: Erika Giorgana - Humand CEO & Founder/ Email: [email protected] Web Address: www.humand.com
It’s Time to Talk About Mental Health by Amelia Walker
CEO MONTHLY / ISSUE 12 2022 13 - It is fair to say that the past few years have impacted us all; from Covid-19 to the looming financial crisis, times have been and still are difficult. Unsurprisingly, stress, depression, and anxiety have skyrocketed within the workplace, accelerating trends seen prior to the pandemic and creating a catastrophic impact on morale and productivity. So, this begs the question, how can businesses better support their employees? A study conducted by the mental health charity, Mind, found that one in four people in the UK will experience some form of mental health problem each year. A report published by CV-Library further supports this claim, noting that from a group of 1,200 UK workers, 14.1% of respondents admitted to suffering with mental health problems, with this number increasing to 26.9% amongst under 18s. Furthermore, 89% of individuals stated that these issues impact their working life. This crisis can be seen on an international scale; for example, in Japan, there is a term for sudden death caused by overworking, Karoshi. Quite simply, this pandemic truly has consequences for everyone. It resides in workplaces across the globe, bubbling away beneath the surface, trapped in the minds of those who are too afraid to speak out due to fear of judgement. Indeed, the stigma surrounding mental illness meant that the same CV-Library study found that 60.2% of professionals would be embarrassed disclosing information regarding the state of their mental health to their employer. This number is worrying – especially as, in the UK, over 300,000 people leave their jobs each year for mental health related reasons. There are several key work-oriented issues that are known to exacerbate or cause mental health strain: an unhealthy work/life balance, excessive workloads, understaffing, job insecurity, long or inflexible hours, to name a few. Psychological risks can be found in all sectors. Deloitte uncovered that between September 2020 and August 2021, 52% of study participants did not feel supported by their employer, with almost onethird of the 40,000 employees stating that they would like more action to be taken by their employer. It could be said that this displays a clear disconnect between business leaders and their staff, which is perhaps evident of a greater concern that transcends generation, position, and industry. When profits are valued more than employee wellbeing, it is an inherent failure on the part of the employer, and not only does it put the staff at risk, but it also poses a risk to the company. The World Health Organisation highlights that an estimated 12 billion working days are lost per annum to depression and anxiety, amounting to a cost of US$1 trillion per year in missed productivity. For businesses both large and small, this can have a significant impact, and much of this stems from the fact that businesses are not prepared to manage their workforce’s mental wellbeing. As an employer, you have a legal responsibility to help your employees – mental health is not something that can be pushed aside or left for HR to deal with. Your business should have the infrastructure necessary to handle such stress factors, be it providing employees with a healthy and sustainable work/life balance or by implementing a solid mental health at work plan, the latter of which being recommended by Stevenson and Farmer’s ‘Thriving at Work’ Review. However, knowing where to begin or even how to get your employees talking about mental health can often be a challenge in and of itself. Cultivating a healthier working environment does not have to come at a great cost; in fact, many of the solutions outlined in Stevenson and Farmer’s review can be executed promptly and with great efficacy. One such example is that of increasing transparency and accountability – by doing so, employers are showcasing strong leadership, which is vital for generating tangible mental health action, and in turn, encouraging organisation-wide change. Moreover, business leaders are also called to promote effective people management, develop mental health awareness amongst employees, and routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing. Whilst mental health courses and awareness videos can be beneficial, these often tend to only effect short-term change. To create an environment that fosters wellbeing and vitality – both in a physical and mental sense, as these two elements are intrinsically connected – executives must examine the fundamentals of their organisations. Are your employees being paid fairly? Is the work setting one that inspires positivity and innovation? Can your employees work freely, without stress or an immense amount of pressure? In order to respond to these questions, employers may wish to look into flexible or remote working schemes, which have proven to supply workers with a plethora of benefits. By providing employees with more control over how they work and when they work, leaders are handing over a large amount of trust and responsibility, which often leads to fulfilment and a sense of wellbeing. If the employer is able, they may also opt to focus on pay, especially in the wake of the current financial emergency. Of course, money is one of the core factors behind stress and anxiety, as shown by a Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, who explain that people with anxiety and depression on average have a median gross annual income of £8,400 less than that of people without those conditions. Mental health problems are never going to go away, but there are hundreds of things that can be done to alleviate the side effects of them, both in and out of the workplace. The evident rift between staff expectations and what employers on an international scope are offering is a cause for contention – but it is something that can be changed with time and effort. Whether it comes down to offering better pay, transforming into a more transparent organisation, or altering priorities, businesses need to bring about healthier, employee-oriented work situations, for both their and the staff’s sake. Otherwise, this issue will intensify like a hurricane, causing unprecedented and unnecessary disruption. Words by Amelia Walker
CEO MONTHLY / ISSUE 12 2022 14 International People Services Chairman of the Year 2022: Con Kittos People are at the heart of any and every business, but finding the right people to make a company work is an enormous challenge. With an international edge, the team at Asuria support tens of thousands of people every year into jobs. In CEO Monthly’s Chairperson of the Year Awards, Con and the Asuria team achieved incredible success. We look more deeply to uncover more. uman Services are the very lifeblood of how organisations work, but many companies struggle to implement them effectively. Sometimes, tomake things happen, you have to work at a higher level. The team at Asuria are committed to helping governments to deliver outsourced Human Services. In 2022, demand for this level of work saw Asuria become one of the world’s most expansive employment service providers. The team has helped workforces across the world to reach their job and career goals, including parents, young people, mature aged job seekers, Indigenous job seekers, and those with a mental or physical disability. Working collaboratively with government sponsored programs, Asuria unites the public and private sectors in the ultimate goal of getting people into jobs they can thrive in. As an international firm, it’s little wonder that Asuria now has more than 200 offices around the world. Based in Australia, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom, the team provide frontline public services that make a real difference to people’s lives. The team take a strengths-based approach to job seeker personal empowerment, exploring the value that individuals can bring to businesses. For those who are both new to job seeking and who are long-term unemployed, this pioneering approach often gives the foot in the door that is desperately needed. The team’s ability to do this is based on their adaptation of the latest thinking in cognitive science and behavioural economics. By focusing on individual citizen’s strengths, the teamare able to find a worthy match for their abilities in the marketplace. The team licenses best-inbreed technology in order to have the maximumpossible impact at all times. What is truly remarkable, however, is the speed at which this was achieved. Con only took control of Asuria in 2016, and in the last six years has transformed it froma loss-making human resources company to a global, top tier provider of employment services. “I began to emerge as a leader and innovator in Human Services with my previous organisation, AngusKnight, which I joined in 1999,” Con tells us. Just a year later, he would go on to become CEO of the firm. In his tenure there, he oversaw the transformation of a small, registered training organisation generating less than $10 million USD in annual revenue. By the time he left in 2011, AngusKnight was the largest provider in its space, with close to $100 million USD in annual revenue by the time. The business that would become Asuria first came to Con’s attention in 2012 when he joined as Non-Executive Director for the UK-based multinational, A4E Limited. “Following A4E’s acquisition by Staffline Group Limited, and subsequent rebranding to PeoplePlus, in 2015 I was appointed as a NonExecutive Director,” Con says with a smile. “Then in 2016, with the support of a single private investor, I acquired PeoplePlus Australia and set out on the path to turn the business into Asuria, transforming the company culture and focusing on a vision to be a progressive provider of employment services to governments all over the world.” Sep22329 H The growth of Asuria is due, in no small part to the driving force that is Con Kittos. He has seen the business grow to its current levels of success. Doing so has seen a shift in how the business works. We asked Con to tell us more. “Asuria is in the business of serving governments,” Con explains. “In order to be among the best at doing that, our job is to understand the immediate and just-over-the-horizon challenges of governments, and to build solutions that respond to what they need to transform their countries, communities, citizens and their businesses.” “We deal in macro issues like immigration, education, unemployment,” Con continues. “These are trends that shift the ground that governments stand on and even influence how they’re elected. These are typical long planning cycles and can span periods of five plus years. After that, it’s about the purchasing cycles of governments in terms of tendering for the services that Asuria is setup to provide. That means researching and developing solutions fit for purpose for their immediate purchasing requirements.”
CEO MONTHLY / ISSUE 12 2022 15 Of course, finding ways forward in such a complex environment is by no means easy. The team have made it their mission not purely to offer solutions, but to listen to what problems actually need solving. “That means consulting with politicians and bureaucrats to understand the needs of government,” Con tells us, “and engaging with academia to co-create innovative solutions to meet those needs, now and in the years to come.” Such engagement means that the team’s plans are futureproofed, carefully designed around where nations and their citizens are headed next. “And a chief part of my role as Executive Chairman is ensuring governments are better informed and advised today and tomorrow than they were yesterday,” Con adds with a smile. The growth of Asuria belays the underlying ambition of Con’s approach to the organisation. “I have little interest in becoming the largest in the world just for the sake of it,” he says. “My goal is for Asuria to be the best. That means constantly striving to be the most innovative provider of solutions, and a world-class thought leader in human capacity development.” When looking at how Asuria has positioned itself, it’s clear that this is a business which is designed to evolve. Con brings an awareness of this goal to the table, and has used his leadership to collaboratively address challenges and obstacles, rather than dwell on successes. “I encourage managers and leaders to come to their board meetings with things that keep them awake at night so we can fix them together, rather than bringing me vanity metrics and shallow success stories that paper over problem areas,” Con tells us. This passion for moving forward and finding solutions lies at the heart of Asuria. “What makes Asuria truly unique is that all our people are truly enterprising at heart,” Con says, with a smile. “The Asuria culture drives a sense of innovation, excitement and passion in all programs and services we deliver. At Asuria, our people are at the heart of all our services. We believe the success of services is in having every employee treat every citizen with empathy, dignity and respect.” Nowhere is this better shown than in Con’s approach to disabled people. Humanity comes in so many different forms, with unique talents and abilities and Con’s position has put him in the ideal position to make real difference in the world at large. “I’m a tireless defender on a global scale is disabled people’s access to work,” Con tells us. “Economies all over the world are failing to properly tap into an immense talent pool of driven, capable people, because the needs of those with mental and physical disabilities are not properly understood and catered for.” Needless to say, this drive for using the talents of disabled people sits alongside the changing nature of work around the world and the supply and demand of labour in the post-COVID world. “Pre-Covid economies, which were addicted to a steady supply of migrants to fill labour shortages and skills gaps suddenly cut off during COVID, are once again in a position to fill vacancies with foreign workers,” Con explains. “The effect this could have on the domestic unemployed runs the risk of shutting homegrown workers out of employment, leading to the kind of social unrest and anti-immigration sentiment that only serves to fracture and divide societies.” Despite acting as a private enterprise, it’s these public sector needs that the team at Asuria are coming up with solutions to. The growth of Asuria has not slowed yet, with Con readily exploring the possibilities of further geographic growth. There are billions of people left on the sidelines of economic opportunity and this team has the power to life them out of poverty through work, self-employment, education and training. This eye for growth and innovation is what Con has always brought to Asuria. When he acquired the company, it had never made a profit. In six years, it was transformed into a lean and effective machine. “Asuria didn’t become a global top tier provider of employment services, trusted to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in government contracts, by doing what every other provider has done before or plans to do again,” he says with a smile. “Asuria got to that point by committing itself to innovation, and by investing in the people, products and processes that proved we could deliver on those promises.” The value of fresh thinking is often overlooked because it involves risk. But by taking these risks, you can achieve the truly remarkable. We celebrate the success of Con and the rest of the Asuria team, and look forward to seeing what they do next. Company: Asuria Name: Con Kittos, Executive Chairman Email: [email protected] Web Address: www.asuria.com.au