Building a Global Team – Looking Beyond Technical Skills

Michael Philliben, Director and Head of Hutchinson Networks’ Global Services division, shares his journey from leading a small team to heading a business unit of over fifty and a network of over two thousand partners worldwide.  He discusses the huge growth in Hutchinson Networks and the challenges and opportunities he faces working with many of the largest companies in the world on global rollouts.

 

In your career what’s been the most challenging hurdle, you’ve had to overcome?

 

“Creating a scalable template for growth is what it’s all about, it’s about building a repeatable model and following through on our strategy.”

 

The biggest challenge in my career to date is managing growth and processes. At Hutchinson Networks we’ve come a long way in a short time – we now have a leadership team in place, a scalable growth strategy, unmatched technical oversight and most importantly clients who trust us to deliver large complex projects across the world.

 

Can you briefly tell us about yourself and describe your role?

When I was sixteen, I joined the army as part of the Royal Signals Regiment.  I then went onto various roles in telecommunications before joining Hutchinson Networks in 2011.

Having learnt the ropes myself through various roles in global services, I knew the day-to-day challenges the team faces.  In my role as Director and Head of Global Services, I am responsible for managing the strategy and direction of our worldwide projects.

The team manages global technology deployments around the world. We understand the requirements and structure of building a team depending on the projects we work on, so each project gets the attention and oversight it deserves.

READ MORE: Frontlines to Deadlines: The Journey from Military to IT Project Management

 

What areas does the Global Services team look after?

 

“Having worked in over eighty countries – and over sixty last year alone – we have the capability to mobilise a team wherever the client need arises.”

 

To maintain the highest standards, we built a Global Services Leadership Team who manage our global projects, manage our network of worldwide resources, build and grow our client relationships and provide technical oversight of our projects as well as round-the-clock technical support.

In the Global Services team, we have a great range of young talent as well as highly experienced staff who have been in the industry for many years. I am also lucky that I can tap into extremely experienced technical staff and in Hutchinson Networks there is a C-level Leadership Team who’s the door is always open.

Our Global Services team meets regularly to make sure we are on top of projects. Managing the scope of works is crucial, making sure the business unit maintains focus and resolving issues quickly ensures that even the most complex projects stay on track.

 

Are values and culture important?

 

“While technical skills are essential for many jobs, soft skills are even more important.”

 

We do work on large global technology implementations but at our core, we are still a people business. Whether it’s our head office team or the partners we use around the world, living up to our values is a cornerstone of how we do business. A key point of difference for us as a company is partnering with technical teams that don’t just have the technical proficiencies but have the soft skills required to work with large corporations.

 

How has Hutchinson Networks changed since you started?

 

“We are now at a point that when we take on a new client, we know what resources we need to put in place and the partners we can utilise to complete the work.”

 

Hutchinson Networks has had huge growth since I started. The company has evolved from a small team working on a boat too much larger organisation. From a team of three, we now have over fifty dedicated resources at our head office and a pool of partners around the world. Our Global Services team grew by more than 100% last year and we expect to see substantial growth continue this year.

But while we have grown I would like to think that some of the values we set out with, such as going above and beyond for clients, have remained.

 

How do you manage projects at such a scale?

 

“The technology is secondary, it’s about the scope of work and the deliverables.”

 

Many companies we speak to that are undergoing digital transformation often want us to embed new processes in their global branch networks. But whether it’s one large project or many, the fundamentals remain the same, we try to understand the outcomes from a very early stage. We accept that the scope of work can change – agility is key.

As complexity, size and project length has increased I needed to take a step back, talk to those around me and create a vision for the future. This was not a document that we put in a drawer but a working strategy that the team can use to plan throughout the year. This, in turn, instils confidence in our clients to execute the outlined requirements.

Finally, it’s about the vetted resource pool that we are building that gives us the edge. We are now investing in a partner programme to provide our partners with the training, technical oversight and ongoing communications so they can partner with us on long-term projects.

 

What motivates you?

 

“The people around me motivate me the most.”

 

I am extremely proud of the team we have built in Global Services and the client-focused culture we have built.

It excites me that the size of the challenge keeps growing. We now have mature global clients asking us to complete more global branch rollouts or site refreshes. By delivering projects successfully our clients now have faith in us to ask for ever-more complex work. Our clients now partner with us strategically on multiple engagements as opposed to the one-off projects at the beginning of our relationships.

 

What’s your favourite way to unwind during time off?

 

“Growing a business is both exhilarating and demanding so for me it’s about not forgetting to have fun.”

 

At home our house is full, I’m married with two boys and two dogs. I try to spend as much time with them as humanly possible.

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Make sure you are led by our clients’ business drivers and don’t set your goals too low.  Don’t become complacent – at Hutchinson Networks although we have grown substantially, we consciously make time to reassess our goals and to deliver service excellence. We cannot lose sight of what matters to our clients.

READ MORE: Key to Success: Embracing Challenges Head-on

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Nothing inspires me more than seeing someone who started working for you just a few short years ago, grow, take on more responsibility and lead a team of their own.

Michael Philliben
Global Services and Global IT Team

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