Talent Hub is proud to introduce a Podcast version of the fifth episode of the Talent Hub TV series. Here, Talent Hub Director, Ben Duncombe sits down with Salesforce professionals and thought leaders to learn more about their fascinating stories and market insight.
Deloitte Digital Partner, Claire Gillies, joins Ben to give insight into her role and the culture at Deloitte, as well as insights into the key differences between the Asiapac and EMEA markets. She shares with Ben how she originally became involved in the Salesforce space and what elements in particular excite her on a day to day basis.
Talent Hub Director, Ben Duncombe, chats diversity, equality and inclusion, the Consulting space with Claire, and her exciting goals for the future.
If you’d prefer to read this insightful episode, you can find the transcribe below.
Ben: Welcome to a Talent Hub TV Episode 5. I’m here with Claire Gillies from Deloitte Digital today, excited to have you on the sofa.
Claire: Thanks for having me.
Ben: We’ve got a lot to talk about around consulting, your background, and the Salesforce market here in Australia. So can you tell us a little bit more about your background and your role?
Claire: I’m a Partner at Deloitte Digital, with responsibility for the Salesforce team here in Sydney. I wear a couple of other hats within Deloitte Digital; I’m the People Partner, so that’s a great role because that gives me exposure across the whole of Deloitte Digital here within Sydney, and responsible for People and Culture initiatives.
Ben: Okay, so you’re driving the culture from the very top?
Ben: Okay and so tell me a bit about your Salesforce journey and how you found your way into the Salesforce space and now what your role is on Deloitte’s Salesforce engagements.
Claire: I’ve had a bit of a varied background actually. I started my career in HR funnily enough, but that gave me exposure to technology, so when it was kind of fashionable in the late 90s, I was working on the introduction of e-learning, e-recruitment. I worked on an implementation of SAP out of PeopleSoft as well, so that exposure as I say, really introduced me to technology and through that my experience has really expanded and grown. So in 2010 in the UK, I set up the Workday Practice at Deloitte, and that was my first exposure to Salesforce as well, because I was working alongside a colleague of mine, who at the same time was setting up the Salesforce practice then as well. On relocating and moving here to Sydney, I’ve had more exposure across Salesforce so my time prior to stepping into this role was really a broader platforms role, where I sat across Workday, Salesforce, Pega, for a period of time, ServiceNow, also Google capabilities. So very much been working in the Cloud ecosystem for almost 10 years now.
Ben: On a project-by-project basis, what involvement do you have on an engagement at the moment in the Salesforce space?
Claire: Yes so at the moment it varies on the client, and the work that we have going on, but there’s three clients that I’m working quite closely with at the moment. One where I’ve got some regular engagement on a weekly basis, really ensuring that we’re delivering to plan, that we’ve got the right resources on board and working with the client to ensure that we’re meeting client expectations rule as well so that’s a great project. And that’s an example where really we’re able to take the breadth of Deloitte Digital capabilities to the client, and we’re working across a broad scope as well, so we’ve got people from our Salesforce team, we’ve got people from our Mulesoft. Given the recent acquisition of Mulesoft, that plays nicely into one of the other capabilities we have. We’ve got people from our experience design team, from content management, who are writing the content for websites and portals as well. So it’s a really diverse project and we’re working closely with the client in ensuring that we’re setting the CRM strategy for them, which is really underpinned by the technology as well. Other engagements, I’ve got quite a bit of engagement in the not-for-profit space, there’s several clients that we’re working with at the moment, to really understand what their current pain points are and how we can help them in taking one of our accelerators, to drive greater efficiencies within the organisation as well. So that’s really interesting and really worthwhile as well, in terms of working with those clients in that space.
Ben: Yeah for sure, so you mentioned you’ve been in consulting for a while now. What was the attraction to consulting for you, and also what’s kept you in the space for the time that it has?
Claire: Yeah, good question, I think a few areas, first of all the variety. So I’ve always really enjoyed the variety that consulting offers around the role, so the different client interaction you get, the different projects, working across the breadth of the organisation as well, so every day is different, because you can’t predict, in terms of what’s going to come up with the clients, and for me as well in terms of my role, there’s lots of variety, between the client work and also the practice development work, and also from a business development and sales perspective, as well as some of the internal roles that I have, as I mentioned, the People Partner role.
Ben: Sure, okay, yes I guess, week to week, month to month, everything, you’re learning all the time, still, after this period of time.
Claire: Yes, definitely still a challenge.
Ben: Sure, and through your career, you’re a Partner, and a lot of people will strive to get to that level, have you had a mentor, and how important, if you have, how important has a mentor been in that career progression and growth for you?
Claire: Yes, I’ve had several mentors throughout my career, and actually one mentor, I still liaise with on a regular basis. Male and female mentors as well, and people that I lean on who have had experience within consulting, and also within industry. So for me, it’s been incredibly important because it’s been useful having a mentor that I can speak to, to get some guidance around career decisions perhaps, or necessary challenges that I’m faced with, or giving me, perhaps, a different perspective and a different way of thinking or approaching situations.
Ben: Sure, and is it important that the mentor has kind of been on the same career path, and has gone through the same challenges, or is it just sometimes a different view is important?
Claire: Well as I said, I’ve got a few mentors, and the reason I’ve got a couple of mentors that I work with is because they each come with some different experience, so yes, one of the mentors has had a very similar career path to myself, so working in consulting, and so that’s useful because he understands the environment I work in, some of the complexities, the KPIs as well that we work towards, so that’s good because it comes with, the advice comes with a level of context as well that’s important. With regards to another mentor that I work with, and she actually doesn’t necessarily come from consulting, but again, someone that I look up to, that’s been very successful, similar to myself, is balancing a career as well as a family. So that, for me personally, has been really useful.
Ben: Okay and you mentioned industry, and talking to people from an industry background to get their view. When you’re hiring people that are coming out of industry, and not from consulting, what hurdles do they typically face, in the early days of consulting and kind of adapting to the new environment?
Claire: Yeah, that’s actually something that I try and share with people when I’m meeting them through the interview process, from my own personal experience. I remember when I stepped into consulting out of industry, some of the challenges were around; one; the fact that I didn’t necessarily have a clearly defined role, so you have a level, but your role changes based on the different projects or the engagements that you work on as well. So that was something very much I had to get used to, whereas in industry you have a day-to-day role, and you kind of stay within the framework of that role, and the expectations, until you perhaps get promoted, or you take a change. So that was one, in terms of getting to grips with the level of variety, around different projects, different engagements. To many extents, your line manager changes, because your line manager is typically your project manager on engagements, so the person that’s going to approve any holiday that you’re taking, that you speak to on a day-to-day basis with regards to any challenges you may be having, and so that’s something that’s this different. The other key thing in terms of joining consulting, is getting used to the KPIs, so the KPI is around chargeability. Obviously within consulting, we are a people business, so being able to work with clients and leverage the skills and the experience, that our people can bring to that client engagement is really important. So we obviously survive by charging out people’s time, so chargeability as a key metric, is also very important. So that’s something really, that you don’t necessarily come across within industries.
Ben: Yeah okay, and what opportunities do you feel that consulting opens up, to encourage more people into the consulting space, who are perhaps on the fence and daunted a little bit by that jump. What kind of opportunities does it open up do you feel, for people that haven’t had that exposure before?
Claire: I think one of the main reasons I moved into consulting was because of the variety their consulting offers. So working with different clients that each bring their unique set of challenges, and being able to work with those clients to guide and advise them, and help solution them in terms of those challenges is really important, and each one is a learning experience. And those clients can come from, obviously, different industry sectors as well, so you’re gaining experience in learning from different industries, and the trends that occur within that industry as well. So that’s important. The other point is, as your engagements change, based on different projects you’re rolling on to, so does your team and the colleagues that you’re working with. So you’re working with a broad and varied set of colleagues that each bring their own experiences as well. And that’s an opportunity to learn from other colleagues and team members that you’re working with.
Ben: For sure, yes I was going to say, like the day-to-day role of your team, but I guess it’s hard to answer that question, because it changes so often, and per project and so on. I guess that’s a benefit as well, as you said, getting exposure to lots of different things. So you’re from the UK and you’ve worked in both markets here and obviously the consulting market there.
Ben: How do they differ and what do you like about the Australian market in comparison?
Claire: There is a difference, I mean geographically, the difference around where we’re based and where we are as a hub in Asia as well, presents a difference. So actually, I was speaking to a colleague last night from our Italian practice, and he’s on a project in Belgium as well, so coming from the UK, that was a hub in Europe where it’s not uncommon to be placed on a project and you’re hopping on a plane, and you’re flying out across Europe, you know, it’s kind of an hour, hour and a half flight, and you’re going into different countries etc. So here, that’s more challenging because, as you know, you can spend 8 hours on a plane and you’re still in Australia. So there’s a difference with regards to that. I think the other difference I find is, in some respects when it comes to the vendor platform and the uptake of Cloud, Australia has been a little bit slow, in the sense that our software partners, so whether you’re talking about Salesforce, Pega, Workday etc. They will invest and they tend to start in the States. It then follows to Europe as well. And then typically, it will come to Asia and we tend to be leading amongst our Asian family as well. So even though we’ll be a little bit late in starting, I see in Australia, we’re very quick in terms of uptake. So where we have a proof of concept, or something is going incredibly well in the Australian market, there’s a lot of momentum behind it as well. I also find doing business is, to some extent, a little bit easier as well, because especially, you know, taking Sydney as a market, it’s easier to navigate around the city, and get things done, and have meetings, and collaborate, with different parts of the business or different clients, compared to in Europe or in the States as well.
Ben: What about, because I find Australia a lot more laid back, and recruiting in London was hard work, does that kind of translate into consulting as well or not so much?
Claire: I wouldn’t necessarily say from the perspective of it being laid back, but I do see a difference in that it’s easier to collaborate, because even though we’re a really large country, then we’re condensed in certain areas, certain pockets as well, so it does make it easier to collaborate. The size of the companies here, in terms of employee size as well, are smaller, so again, that makes it easier to navigate your way around a business, and get a cross-section of people, you know, thinking from, Deloitte Digital’s perspective, getting a cross-section of people and capabilities, involved in a project and taking that to clients as well.
Ben: And diversity. Have Deloitte had success with creating a diverse culture and workforce and if so, what advice would you give to other companies looking to do the same?
Claire: Again, good question, because diversity is something quite close to my heart and I’ve been actively involved in that area as well. And one of the reasons I joined Deloitte is that actually my final interview, as a Partner, you have a board interview, and my final interview with the board was actually with three females. So, for me personally, I was really impressed in terms of seeing the diversity at the board level, so it’s very important to Deloitte, as you know, and it’s also very much a hot topic, that’s discussed as well. Now, diversity for us, is something that is seen at the very top, and that tends to translate through the rest of the business as well, so our CEO is female, I think we’ve just reported in terms of 47 percent gender diversity on our board as well, and working within the digital space, then you can only breed creativity and innovation if you have a diverse workforce. So I definitely feel, just in terms of walking through the office, there’s a lot of diversity there, not just gender diversity, but in terms of people’s ethnic backgrounds as well.
Ben: Okay and in terms of your role, Head of People ultimately, and the culture, how do you kind of foster a positive culture, especially in an environment where things must get tough at times, in terms of delivering projects, how do you maintain a positive culture and drive that from the top?
Claire: In a few ways actually, having an open and transparent culture, where people feel trusted that they can bring themselves to work and be themselves as well, is really important. And also that we trust one another that we can sit down and have a robust conversation if we need to talk about where people have performed incredibly well or where there are areas for development based on recent project work or examples as well, so that’s really important. Culture is also born out of the things we do, the kind of symbols and rituals we have, so how we celebrate success, how we reward people as well, how we reinforce our cultural values, how we get together as a team, and collaborate and share stories, and information as well, is really important. So there’s a number of ways we do that, in terms of monthly Deloitte Digital events, we also have a monthly Dreamatorium going, where each month something cool is focused, so we’ve just had a 3D printing session in the office, and the next one will be around VR and so on, so there’s a whole agenda around that as well. In addition to some individual team meetings that go on, so there’s some kind of chocolate making courses that some of the team have been on, we’re just involving a go-karting session in a few months as well. So bringing the team together to socialise and get to know one another is really important, especially when you work in consulting, and a lot of people are out of the office as well, so something that we’ve also been working hard to do, and something I’ve been having conversations with clients around, is getting their support to bring the teams back into the office on a Friday. So Fridays for us are very much a hub where a lot of the team are back in, they can collaborate with their colleagues, share stories, information, we can do some Lunch and Learn sessions etc.
Ben: Okay great, and on a personal level, what are the challenges that you most enjoy solving for your clients?
Claire: I think where I mentioned earlier, working with some clients at the moment, who are really grappling with some pain points on, you know, how they could digitise their business, and how they can deliver greater efficiencies to the business, but also a better way of working for their employees who are using the system but also the customers, and the interaction that customers are getting. And demonstrating as well the return on investment that technology can have to a business when implemented properly and there’s consideration of that customer experience as well. That for me, is really exciting and working with a client right now as well, where we’re being able to demonstrate where the return on investment is, and to the clients language, really thinking about a way forward where we can deliver quick wins, where there can be biggest bang for your buck, and we’re tackling the low-hanging fruit. So that’s very much, in terms of our engagement, how we’re structuring and prioritising things, based on what the client objectives are, and some of their terminology.
Ben: Okay and how does that then translate into the Salesforce market, and I guess, moving forward and how, what excites you about the next twelve or eighteen months of the Salesforce market and the platform evolving?
Claire: Well I think, as I said, my first exposure to Salesforce was in 2010 when I was working alongside my colleague in Deloitte who was really forming the practice in the UK and then the focus was very much around sales, and really a platform to store your customer data, opportunities, pipeline. If I look at how far the system, and the extent to which the system has grown, the platform as well, and how that’s developed over the course of the last eight years, it’s just so vast, it’s so different. Where you talk about, you know, now it’s Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Commerce Cloud as well. The exciting capabilities that Einstein is bringing around AI as well, and really leading that vision of workforce of the future as well, so Salesforce is becoming really your personal assistant and taking away some of the administrative burdens as well, that’s all really exciting. Also the way in which Salesforce has evolved as a platform, to create opportunities within a partner ecosystem is also really exciting, so there are opportunities there to talk to clients about specific niche products and apps that are available to them, because the platform’s been open and other partners have been able to build around it as well.
Ben: Yeah for sure, and finally on a career level, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Claire: I think not to be too rigid in your career expectations and not having too much of a long-term plan. And the reason for me that’s been important, and especially working in the space of technology, is because you would have seen the extent to which technology is changing the way in which we live and work, in a rapid timeframe. So the roles that are available now, and there’s some research recently, in terms of the kind of Top 10 listed number of roles, they just didn’t exist three years ago.
Ben: Crazy isn’t it.
Claire: So if you’re going to approach it with a fixed mindset of ‘in three years I want to be doing X Y Z, or five years’ then you may find that you’re missing out on opportunities, so I think it’s great setting yourself a goal and being ambitious with it, but be flexible and be open to changes as well.
Ben: Okay well thank you very much for coming on today, an absolute honour having you here, and lots going on with you guys at Deloitte, and great to hear about your career to date. I think our viewers will really enjoy watching that as well, so thank you very much.