Consultant spotlight series: Stephen Ford
As part of our team spotlight series, we met with Stephen Ford, Senior Delivery Manager to chat about his experience in providing services to Digiterre.
How would you describe what you do at Digiterre?
My formal role is senior delivery manager. I see that as a hybrid role, at times it might be team leading, it might be supporting the marketing and business growth through RFPs, also project management and even engagement management and overall, we sometimes shape the programme so it’s a real hybrid role, many faceted is how I’d view it.
Is there a typical day for you at Digiterre?
If I was to reflect on my general day to day, I would say it tends to be very sociable and of course, given the fact that time has passed since coronavirus hit us all, that seems counterintuitive but I’ve actually got a very sociable work day, obviously all remote as this meeting is as well.
My morning normally starts with a review of my calendar, just so I know what’s coming up through the day. I typically have 15 minute stand-ups with one to four or five different project teams and that syncs the team and it’s the typical stand-up: what I did yesterday, what I’m going to do today and whether I have any blockers.
The rest of the day might involve deep dives with client teams, presentations to prospective clients and exploring ways in which we can help them. During the pandemic in particular, we often have a roundup call with active teams to get back in touch and check-in: “how’s your day gone? Any issues?” Sometimes we’ll discuss some complications or some particular challenge with a project and its delivery, before we sign-off ready to start another day.
But before I sign-off for the day, I typically check the next day for meetings in case there’s more preparation needed
Is there anything that you’re working on at the moment that inspires or excites you?
Keeping the client confidential, I must say that most of the recent projects I’ve worked on have aspects that are quite inspiring for me and excite me; get me up in the morning with energy. For example, I’m working with a large European energy company building an asset optimisation platform. That has been a really exciting project and looks to be growing in the future. It’s particularly satisfying having been part of the original team that first met with the client, before setting up the programme and actually delivering it. It’s become one of their top projects which has been a fantastic outcome.
Another recent example was a financial intelligence firm and that was really interesting – adding ESG functionality, that’s environmental, social and governance, to their current solution. But almost more importantly, once that functionality had been added, was to scale their solution so that they could compete for much larger business, particularly in the US. It was a great project technically, and one of the most rewarding aspects was presenting to the CEO at the end, seeing his physical reaction and how much he appreciated the work of the team. So that was really excellent. And hopefully, we’ll continue working as a strategic partner for that firm. And finally, working with another energy company in Europe on a turnaround project. They’d struggled with an integration between two parts of their business, a retail arm and a trading arm, with a complex culture, a number of different third parties so it needed coordinating to get a common understanding as to how we could deliver solution. We actually accomplished that at the end of November, so a nice way to end the year.
Thank you very much.
You mentioned a few of these things but is there anything that has struck you as being the highlight for you so far working here?
Yes, being part of the early stage in the client meetings, getting to understand the client’s challenge, winning that engagement and then delivering on it. This end to end involvement is a highlight because you’re not just delivering a project formed by someone else but rather you’re responsible for envisioning, shaping and delivering.
How would you describe the culture at Digiterre?
I work with a great number of experts; teams of very experienced consultants. And they’re also genuinely nice people which is always a plus. The atmosphere this creates is one of respect and psychological safety. Despite the challenges of tough projects, we have fun. If you can come to work, have a fun day whilst learning and stretching your boundaries, all while working under pressure, then I think that’s a good culture and one I’ve enjoyed at Digiterre.
What do you think Digiterre values or looks for when we’re hiring or selecting people’s limited companies?
High levels of expertise and professionalism is first and foremost. There’s winning the work and then there’s delivering it. You’re only as good as your delivery. Can you really deliver against what’s been promised? How you deliver also matters and maintaining strong relationships is really important.
That expertise, willingness to learn and accountability is essential. We don’t shirk responsibility and that’s a key aspect of what Digiterre seeks in candidates.
Has anything surprised you about Digiterre in your time here?
Yes, in the way that Digiterre teams respond to pressure and stress. In any project there are unknowns, there’s going to be stress. What I’ve seen at Digiterre is people coming together rather than looking out for themselves. They focus on finding solutions and typically say, “so what are we going to next?” .
This means you come through it stronger and end up in stronger relationships because no one sought to blame it on the another team member. We don’t just give up and throw our hands in the air; it’s about getting it done.
What do you think our clients gain from working with us or engaging our services?
There’s the obvious technical expertise and domain experience that the collective team bring. Importantly, we’ve often solved similar problems for other clients and this creates a powerful snowball effect.
I think we also bring real insight into what agility means. Agility isn’t just a process; you can talk about SAFe or other agile frameworks but if the culture or mindset isn’t one of agility, these simply don’t work. Even though a client may like the idea of agile, the truth is that sometimes they act in a more waterfall way in terms of aligning budget, defining requirements, planning and delivery. We show them that actually, agility is based on exploration, iteration and allowing the right work to emerge as knowledge grows. A project team may know the general direction of travel but the twists and turns to get there aren’t necessarily clear upfront. I think we bring that culture and can share this with client teams.
Thank you very much.
Lastly, what teams or kinds of people and stakeholders do you interact with on a regular basis?
This is one of my favourite parts of my role. For example, I start the day every morning speaking with our CTO. This is then followed by standups with various consultant teams across varying disciplines and projects. Each context is unique and may require different levels of input or support. I also regularly speak with our CEO and sales team about future prospects.
With our clients, I talk to senior international stakeholders and project teams.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I genuinely enjoy what I do at Digiterre and exploring new technologies for clients – it’s a rewarding experience.
Thank you very much.