Convergence Group’s restructuring has not only raised its objectives to a new level, it has also elevated the importance of culture in achieving those goals, says Director of Strategy and Change Franki Hale.
The relevance of Hale’s career experience to Convergence Group is that it is based on the same premise that the performance of a business is inextricably linked to the performance of its people and teams. “My move into comms followed an introduction to Convergence Group founder Neal Harrison,” she explained. “He was looking for someone to help build a senior management team ahead of driving scale and growth.”
Hale joined the company in 2017 following a notable career in the retail and hospitality sectors, working across several large corporate, privately owned and PE backed businesses in senior positions. “I became aware that my success had come from building strong service-focused teams,” she said. “It was at this point that I decided to move into human resources, specialising in building sustainable organisations that scale.”
She noted that the retail and hospitality sectors are relatively mature and that businesses have evolved and reinvented themselves to survive, with culture an ever more important success factor – a story that is also familiar in the not so mature comms industry. “You only have to stand on a high street to see the size of the competition,” she added. “That competition is not just after your customers, they also want your best people. Therefore being on top of your game, and culture, is crucial. Culture is built on finding the right people, ensuring the processes are simple and repeatable to enable great service, and encouraging a constant evolution through an appetite to make mistakes, alongside good system development. Get this right and you will always grow.”
This is where the excitement is – watching the last three years of hard yards deliver for everyone involved
Convergence Group hit the reset button on its cultural development in 2016 when it acquired Network First. The deal formed part of a plan to offer solutions in all areas of infrastructure, specialising in layers 1-4 of the OSI stack and developing a Connectivity as a Service (CaaS) proposition. “When I joined, the Network First business had recently been acquired therefore my main priority was to bring the two businesses together culturally, ensuring true integration was achieved across people, processes and systems,” said Hale.
“Over the last three years we have focused on building the business from the inside out, bringing in quality people to lead the team, improving and simplifying processes and developing systems to increase capacity and drive service.”
With its restructuring phase now complete, Convergence Group has unleashed a significant programme targeting all businesses in need of agile solutions. And having invested in a new network to increase capacity, the company hopes to connect five million users over the next five years.
“Our biggest opportunity is the current financial climate,”commented Hale. “With the foundations in place we are now ready to take our CaaS offer to market, giving our customers new levels of commercial choice. The offer focuses on the number of users each business requires to build the right commercial model for customers. This is where the excitement is – watching the last three years of hard yards deliver for everyone involved.”
The biggest challenge for many comes from Covid-19 which has changed how the world works. There is little appetite to return to the old ways of doing things
Convergence Group’s product split has favoured WAN, but over the last few years it has seen significant growth in its LAN services across the existing customer base, also driven by relationships in the public sector (mainly blue light services). “The move to a full connectivity infrastructure offer in CaaS with our existing partners and their end users and our direct customers is showing growth,” stated Hale. “This year we are also launching a Joint Venture Partnership enabling established businesses or single operators to work in partnership with Convergence Group and share the full rewards of growing the business.”
Convergence Group has a strong presence in the channel and directly, and supports worldwide enterprises. “In times where people are unsure, they need experts to take the lead and show them what is available,” commented Hale. “The biggest challenge for many now comes from Covid-19 which has changed how the world works. There is little appetite to return to the old ways of doing things. Therefore, this is a turning point for us as fewer businesses will require fixed connectivity and more will be looking for flexibility, enabling them to access a secure network on and off premises.
“We have been working on CaaS for several years, now our priority is getting it out to market and ensuring we do not miss the opportunity to add real value to end users. Another big focus area has been enabling a mobile solution that gives people connected to our network the ability to access the same service they would get in their office, anywhere and at any time, as part of our CaaS model.”
Connectivity is the fourth utility, according to Hale. More importantly, she says, the next generation workforce will expect the highest level of connectivity on demand wherever they are, in their personal life and with even higher expectations in the workplace. “To this generation, flexibility will be their normal, therefore working from anywhere at different times of the day will start to become the rule, not the exception,” she stated. “We need to drive simplicity to enable great service. Connectivity infrastructure is not something anyone will or should want to think about, therefore our business is working hard to make servicing connectivity as invisible as electricity.”
Just a minute with Franki Hale...
What talent do you wish you had?
A watertight memory for places, routes and directions.
Your main strength and what could you work on?
My greatest strength may also be my biggest weakness, which is when ‘I’m in, I’m in’. Being able to disconnect is something I need to work on.
Best piece of advice you have been given?
If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t, so don’t do it!
The biggest risk you have taken:
Working abroad as a student with no visa (that is when I was given my best piece of advice).
I would have joined the tech industry earlier. There is great potential here!
Tell us something about yourself we don’t know:
I’m a qualified sports masseur.
What do you fear most?
Being really bored!
Name three ideal dinner guests:
Right now, my best friends. It would be great to have a few beers and a giggle with them.
Getting two children into their teens, and one now beyond, while working full-time and having lots of laughs along the way.
How do you relax when not working?
Cooking is a bit like meditation for me. It completely relaxes me and fortunately doesn’t take much thinking.
Top tip for resellers:
Embrace the new world.
How would you like to be remembered?
As a good woman.
How can we create greater diversity in the comms industry?
By addressing the lack of ‘selling’ our industry into the younger generation.