Background Questions Carlo Calleri National Partner Brand Manager Ajilon

So I’m an accidental IT guy. I started off in the industry 25 years ago. Now most people think that’s a lifetime. It’s a quarter of a century believe it or not. So yeah, I came out of Monash University Victoria with a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in politics, and a minor in American history. So from then when I got my degree, I was offered to go to a masters and whatever they used to be in those days, and then do another year or go out to the workforce. So I decided to go out to the work force, and at that stage this little company called IBM was hiring lots of graduates. So I just joined IBM and I won’t say here I am today, but now I’m the sum-total of the 20 plus years’ experience in an industry which has gone through amazing change and transformation over that period of time. So I joined IBM, I joined IBM as an account administrator doing invoices and shifting equipment here and there after purchase orders were given to me by sales reps, and from then moved on to various roles in various other global organisations, ran my own business as well, but majored around that sales, sales marketing, team leadership, being general manager of a local IT company as well, so a good diverse background. So that’s about me yeah. So about 20 odd years ago, three guys, WA guys who were ex-tier-1 of the larger consulting organisations got together and said why don’t we actually form a company that’s focussed on, not with all the kerfuffle and noise of the big global entities, but why don’t we build an organisation that’s actually nimble, focussed on customer outcomes and provides great people at good prices, and delivers great service. That company was called AEM which is the short naming convention for the owners of the company. That organisation grew very, very rapidly, and it grew so quickly over a period of 4 or 5 up to about 7 years, that it really started to deliver on that promise of its’ values around providing the best people, of the best quality, with the industry knowledge at the right price point. It grew exponentially because it provided those people that the organisations were actually looking for, across a range of industries. One of those key industries is mining and resources, and it rode the mining boom. The organisation now has transformed into more of a solutions organisation, whereas taking IT solutions and people, and providing them to organisations to provide IT services to deliver on business outcomes that customers are looking for. It’s a very traditional structure, you’ve got a shareholder, what I call the parent which is the Adecco Group which is a large global Fortune 500 company, and its focus as Adecco group funnily enough is a HR recruitment organisation. So they said well how does Ajilon as an organisation which was founded by the guys at AEM and transformed into this IT solution company, so Adecco was in the Australian market, and it had a number of IT solutions companies around the world, and it then formed part of the broader Adecco Empire, and Ajilon was part of that. By the way, Ajilon, the name was all around being agile, even though it was spelt A-J-I, and agile is spelt a little differently, it was a nice play on words. So very traditional, we have the parent being Adecco, it has its own structure; CEO, CFO and so on, very traditional approach. Ajilon has a managing director, has a number of executive that cover a number of different business functions, and underneath that of course the ‘do-ers’ and the people that actually then interface into the executive group at various levels. My role is national partner and brand manager, that role is very much responsible for growing partnerships with the broader IT industry, and also securing new streams of revenue with those partners in the Australian market. The role is typically one of internal and external stakeholder management. It very much focuses on making sure that we as an organisation are positioned effectively with our external alliance partners, and that those alliance partners are integrated back into our organisation by identifying and promoting new opportunities together into our chosen markets and into our chosen customers. So lot of time spent on the phone, a lot interaction by email and lots of face-to-face time where appropriate on a national basis as my role is national. I think put simply, my focus is around three things, and it has been for probably the last five to eight years, and that’s based on different roles that I’ve had. It’s a healthy triangle, and that triangle sits around happy customers, happy people deliver sound customer profitability results. The style sits at integrating those aspects which means from a leadership approach it’s about understanding how those three entities in themselves all interact together to deliver that final result. So, a simple equation, people plus customers equals financial results, and the style is all about making sure from a people point of view that they get that picture. People are I use the word empowered, but I’m more like, put it like making sure that they know why they’re coming to work, making sure that they’ve got their focus right, and then we then ensure that we talk about those areas when we get together. I’m not an ogre, not a micro-manager, I trust that people actually do come to work with the right intent, and that intent then is encouraged. I think lastly it’s all about creating a safe place where people are genuinely free and open in meetings to actually talk, not feel that they’re going to be smacked down or their opinions aren’t valued and so on, and that they’re free to communicate both with me and effectively with the team, and that’s something that I really pride myself on, to be able to do that, and then that shows when you do leave other organisations people keep calling you and wanting support for, can you help me with a referee, can you help me with this situation, can you give me an opinion, and I’m delighted to say that over 20 years in the industry that still happens, so I’m pretty proud of that. I think it’s about the balance. I think sometimes we drive towards the bottom line and I think that that drive for the bottom line and only looking at performance at an organisational level that it’s about the dollars, yeah everyone gets that, there’s no charity here, because if we were a non-for-profit then that’s a different conversation right? So yeah, I get the dollar conversation and I get the importance of it, but there’s also given my role, importance of external stakeholders being engaged with Ajilon, our internal leadership structure being engaged with those organisations, and therefore for me it’s a balance, it’s about yes the results are important but it’s also how our external partners, those IT vendors see Ajilon and how they respond to wanting to work with us and taking the things that we do well out into the market jointly. It sustains itself through much of its legacy and heritage, i.e. understanding the people that we have, understanding the cost structures of those individuals having a daily rate for them based on experience, longevity, capability skill-set, then promoting those people into a select group of customers and then applying a commercial margin onto those individuals and making money from their time. Simple, effective, professional services model, that’s one aspect of our business. The other aspect of our business is with partnerships that we then take our people capability, the intellectual property knowledge that we’ve developed from an industry perspective whether it be mining and energy, commercial finance, public sector, and combining it with third-party products, software, and other solutions and again applying a commercial margin and then on-selling that to the customer or chosen market. They’re the models that we adopt, again fairly straightforward; I’ll take it, what’s my cost base, and then I’ll apply a commercial margin to then make money. The other aspect of our business is providing an on-going service for what we actually implement. For example we might then choose to take on the software support, the systems support for what we’ve sold and deliver that service to the customer over a period of 5 years and manage that solution for them over that period of time, or for any length of time. That’s, they’re the key things that we actually do. There’s always this unique value proposition and so on that we tout and so on, I think there are standouts in our industry. Apple is a standout, an extraordinary innovator, at a product level. In professional services there isn’t really a lot to be candid, it’s very much, much of a muchness. But there’s one thing that Ajilon has that is quite I believe unique when compared to many other organisations, Australian owned and based organisations in our sector. This comes back to me from the external partners that we engage with, and the number one differentiator from our perspective is that we’re one of the few organisations underneath the global IT services organisations that has a depth of business acumen and consulting capability. That’s very unique, many of our peers would have perhaps greater technical capability, greater certifications with vendors, and the like. We’ve got that unique blend between the industry knowledge and capability we’ve combined with the technical capability, and combined that with a healthy dose of pragmatism and realism about the way we go to market. I think they’re the key things that really make Ajilon maybe not different, but perhaps a little bit unique in the way that we address the marketplace both internally, and with our customers and our partners. We don’t compete with them directly, in terms of the size of contract for example, we don’t deliberately go out and attack CSC’s customers, but when we do compete against them it’s those things that I mentioned before that customers see of a difference compared to CSC. So, in short we don’t deliberately compete against them because that’s not our style, but if you look at contracts that we’ve secured particularly in Western Australia we actually have been awarded contracts over them for the approaches that we’ve taken, which has been a little bit different. So, it’s kind of like out-flanking our competitors rather than taking them head on. The founding fathers, for want of a better term, had a vision. They executed against that vision, we’ve been able to successfully provide people and capability into our chosen customers, particularly in the resources sector. Of course in that time we rode that magic resources wave and boom, but never losing sight of the fact that we also had to diversify our business as well, and we’ve undertaken that diversification certainly over the last three years where we weren’t so, and aren’t so exposed to the nature of that mining and energy sector, and as we all know now what that means as well. It’s impacted us, certainly there’s been a lot of pressure on us as an organisation but we’ve been able to manage that process, relatively well. I think the nature of our business given it’s so people intensive, right, and there’s ensuring that we retain that top talent, and retention of top talent is something that our organisation focuses on very, very hard, because we recognise that without the right people, without the quality of the people, you’ve got nothing. I know that there’s that wonderful glib statement ‘Our people are our greatest asset’ and ‘wonderful employer of choice’, we all get that, but outside of the marketing message that that has, there’s an inherent stream of the focus around that yes people are critical, yes people are important, and having a strong HR function in an organisation delivering on that commitment has helped drive our success certainly and our growth. Without that I think that we certainly wouldn’t be in the place that we are today and that’s a continued emphasis and focus even to a point just recently where we all know of the scourge of domestic violence in Australia, a terrible, terrible disease that’s inflicting so many people, we’ve actually now come out internally with a policy around that. Backing that policy with demonstrable acts around how the company will support people who are either helping others or going through it themselves, which is a really good sign and to demonstrate that it’s not just about words that we understand the trends, we see the issues and challenges and we respond accordingly to it. So again, strong people, strong people leadership, fundamental and key for the growth of our organisation. Our chosen markets and that I suppose is the best way of going about the type of organisations that we deal with, and a lot of it’s also to do with the history of the organisation. So we kind of know that the background here is about being engaged with a number of industry sectors. We’ve talked about mining and energy, public sector is also a key focus area for us. We do write a lot of tenders and lots of responses but you at least know one thing, government always pays its’ bills, so therefore from a focus for us, it’s been a very successful approach. So public sector, mining and energy and within public sector law enforcement & justice, and also the health sector. Now we’ve been able to over time differentiate our service offerings into those sectors because we’ve built up other and we’ve worked on projects that can be repeated across a number of mining and energy customers, a number of public sector organisations, a number of different agencies so therefore we’ve been able to take solutions even though people-based, but we’ve retained the intellectual property to then promote that into those customers, at various times. So we’ve been very good at capturing intellectual property and then on-selling it to others as well, which is a very good way of maintaining your IP base but also how to demonstrate real value back into the sectors that you work in. The industry is in absolute turmoil at the moment, I’ve never seen the industry, obviously the IT sector is one of the largest global industries, I was actually, I haven’t had time to research but I’m sure it’s in the trillions and trillions of dollars, it employs thousands of people around the world, certainly here in Australia as well. It’s one of the most over-serviced industries and markets as well, and it’s going through some significant change. We’ve heard about the changes in this thing called cloud, we’ve heard about the explosion of the use of handheld devices and tablets, we understand that people want to do more things more effectively we want to be in touch 24/7 now, much to the scourge of many people in the industry who actually want to be able to turn off their phones and not be disturbed, but again the changes that I’ve seen over those twenty-odd years has been exponential and I think that, I think it was best summed up when I was catching up with my kids just recently. Kids 20 and 16, and the 20 year old said to the 16 year old, ‘Yeah but I didn’t grow up with Twitter’. I think that that was an extraordinary statement given that there’s only a four year age difference between them. The rapid change, the consumerisation of our industry and what I’ll call consumerisation of decision-making, where we think that we can actually have a device and throw it away but we continue to use it, doesn’t matter what technology it is but we instinctively know how to pick it up and use it and it’s one of the amazing things in the industry is over twenty-odd years there’s no manual when you get an iPhone. There’s no manual when you buy a Samsung. There’s no manual or instruction book how to use Facebook or twitter, or any of these, Instagram or snapchat, any of these tools that have come on the market. That to me was unheard of 20 odd years ago. You had to attend a training course. You had to go through the process, and this is for someone who started off in IBM writing out emails on carbon copy paper, and then this thing called professional office system came in. Then there were screens with four separate quadrants and you could flick in between them. So that’s a history lesson, maybe that’s a vintage environment. Many of those technologies will probably end up in some sort of museum in another 20 years. But the rapid rate of change, the ever-increasing, it’s just exponential. I don’t think, we are not seeing the end of it, and sometimes we see things come out of the marketplace which are kind of solutions to problems that we don’t even know that we have yet, and that is also quite an intriguing view of the industry itself. I love the industry, I’m still very passionate about the industry, the IT industry, but I think you do need to look at it as well to say that it’s going through fundamental change and both buyer and seller of technology related solutions are both caught in that cross-fire of which way to go. How to go about doing it, and there’s confusion on both sides. No one’s got the answer, but one thing is very clear, the consumer has the choice, and the consumer then drives many many things, we don’t work in the consumer market we work in the business sector, but again you do see very similar behaviours. I’ve seen someone said that decisions are made in the lounge room and then taken into the board room, and I think that’s a really good way of describing many of the changes that we’re seeing in the IT industry. If you’re not looking at the trending, and the trending is actually being adopted by the large global players, the response to that is about picking the shift and where it comes in, and there are people who can help with that shift but at an entrepreneurial level the challenge is what do you pick to actually get involved in, and where are the money-making opportunities perhaps for people to get into. Or what are the style of companies that are going to work for me, and that’s a challenge because talent retention of the ‘whatever’ generation you call it is very challenging now, for a whole bunch of reasons. So again it’s almost like we consumerise our employment opportunities as well thinking that we can pick and choose where to go to, maybe that is the case, and maybe it isn’t. But certainly it’s a lot harder than it used to be. I think a key opportunity rests with us. As an organisation there are, there’s been some significant and we continue to see the trends. We as an organisation need to be able to identify those trends early on and shift the ship to cope with the trends. So regardless if it’s cloud or mobile or big data or analytics or whatever is the de rigueur industry buzz word that’s coming out, it’s all about response. It’s all about choosing how to go about investing in the solutions and the services to go and make a profit, the end game with the markets and customers that we choose to operate in, and at the same time differentiate that. So it’s almost like we talk a lot about first mover advantage and making sure that you’ve got that unique value proposition and so on, perhaps the value proposition in the future might actually rest in being able to pick the right pony to ride, rather than knowing everything that’s going to happen, and maybe we’ll start looking at business plans on a quarterly basis rather than thinking that we can do things over 12 months and stick to that or 3 year plans. Cause a constant review is needed in an ever-changing and ever-rapidly changing environment. The opportunity rests with us, because there’s always going to be change, it’s about how we choose to respond which is the greatest opportunity that I believe organisations need to go through. It’s actually, when I looked at the question I looked at how our own organisation deals with this particular issue of innovation. Maybe it’s been too over-used, maybe it’s something that is only the remit of those organisations that focus on industrial design, maybe it’s, the approach for innovation actually rests with the creatives, and a blend between the creatives understanding the trends and then having to work within at times the constraints that organisations have for the profit motive. The innovation will drive from understand how both can marry together to provide something credible where we identify something happening within the customer that the customer can’t resolve, or is constrained by. So innovation I believe comes from that belief that we don’t want to be constrained by organisational structures and views that don’t then drive customer value. Sometimes it may not be the word innovation but we’re doing something that we weren’t doing before that’s really different and we’re delivering a great result. And call that whatever you like, but it’s a little bit different and it’s driving forward a business solution that wasn’t there before. I don’t know whether we need to use a different word. But maybe, quite possibly we’re overusing that word. But again rest assured that the customer is most of the times driving forward and looking for us to respond to and do things differently than what we have. We’ve got to balance that out as an organisation. A lot of tenacity, a lot of blood sweat and tears, and maybe they’re all glib statements but it is one that does require an eye on the future, a realistic view of what’s happening within your business and having that view as to are you structured in a way to take advantage of what’s going to happen or what is happening. But I believe that tenacity, focus and attention to detail are fundamentally critical to be successful in this industry, and balancing all of those. If we don’t balance them I think that you could get skew-if and then you don’t see the opportunities and the potentially the issues that are going to impact your business in the future. Well I know where they’re not going to be created. They’re not going to be created, the leaders of tomorrow sitting behind PCs or doing what I’ll call the ‘iPhone walk’ where we walk around, our heads down bowed down and paying homage to our phones as we walk through. I remember, my kids asked me a very similar question a few months ago, and my view is that it’s all about the network and connections that you build over your work life that actually then puts you in a position to actually then start influencing the way that others work and how people see you, and how you then as an individual impart your views in a constructive manner, right? To not only provide feedback to others but also be thoughtful and be a thought-leader, and I think that leaders and we all look and be it through military, business, being technology we all think about that name, the Churchills, the Jobs, the Whitlams, Keatings, Hawkes, I think that leaders get created because in my view they’ve got some form of vision in their approach. So I don’t think that comes out of a factory somewhere, it comes out of an individual’s view that they have a perspective and a view of what the future needs to look like, for whatever it represents, be it sport, be it humanities, there’s always a vision about what that is. That’s fundamental and I think that if I look at certainly all the companies I’ve worked in and around in Australia, there was always one key aspect that is someone who had a vision and was able to rally the troops around that vision. So I don’t prescribe to a view that people are going to come out of universities, they’ll come out of wherever they are and what they’re doing but they’ll have something of a vision that people want to rally around. I don’t just look at it from a context of business context but that leadership can come out of all aspects of our lives, all aspects of diversity that we have in our world. Don’t expect to use your degree (laughs) in the future, and I’m a really good case study for that. How does a Bachelor of Arts degree lead into sales and business development and general management over 20 odd years? Some would say you’ve got to get a politics degree and therefore you manage politics very well in organisations, No I haven’t! (Laughs) So therefore all I’ll, the advice is really simple. Build your networks, build your contacts, yeah go and use LinkedIn or whatever variant will happen over the next 10-15 years. I mean personally I have over 1600 contacts in LinkedIn, I’ve only got 40 in Facebook, which kind of goes to show you where I put my time and invest it but there will be I believe in the future some sort of space where your network will become monetized, and let’s not kid ourselves that once you start building your network of business contacts relationships, stakeholders as part of that, you’re already started monetizing something that you’ve created through those personal relationships, and not to use and abuse those, and to call them in when it’s necessary. So that’s where, that’s where I look at where that future value is in the building of those networks and relationships, and why it’s critical to maintain those. That’s what we need to get out of this very sad habit I think many younger people are getting into that the phone and everything around it is, it permeates into their lives and I don’t think that as I talked to my children 20 and 16, I try to reinforce upon them the value of the face to face, and that high touch network as well, just some thoughts, random thoughts. Relevance, I think that relevance comes to mind immediately and why I believe that is that the sector genuinely has challenges and I think struggles at many times because it focuses very heavily on and the students at times focus very heavily on ‘I want to get in, I got to get into the work force’. So obviously organisations like Curtin University who have, and there is a significant profit made in there as well and for you to survive in that sector, you need to be relevant to your customers as well, so you need to provide courses and degrees that are going to be consumed in the marketplace. I think that’s an ever-evolving issue as well, so the importance of having a broad, not just to be pigeon-holed into a degree, maybe there’s a broader aspect and have a generalist view if that’s the value, if that’s what’s important to you. Obviously doctor or law or any of those streams that people are always going to need, those good people in our society and so on which is a very focussed aspect, but a generalist degree has not done me any disservice at all. In fact, one thing I walked with away from university was the ability to organise my thoughts and organise the way I go about my day-to-day tasks. It left me wonderful organisational skills. How does politics and, because when you’re preparing for an assignment, that’s your work day. What am I going to do? How am I going to do it? How am I going to structure something? What are the key messages? How am I going to put it across? All those things are critical as you move into the business world. They’re the capabilities that many business people are looking for from people who are coming out of universities. Can they think? It’s just a perspective on what I see and view from university moving forward. 1100 people, 220 million dollars’ worth of revenue, national organisation owned by a fortune 500 company.