Here’s what we’ve been up to

Meet the consultant…

What does your role involve day-to-day?

Being project coordinator involves making sure all the different elements of a project come together in the right way and that everyone involved knows exactly what they’re meant to be doing.

As I have quite a varied career background, I’m also able to work with clients on different kinds of projects and across a range of sectors. One day I may be putting together a plan for an office design and refurbishment project and the next I‘m helping a client with the implementation of a new IT system.

What did your path to becoming project coordinator look like?

It’s quite an interesting story! I started my career in sales, but then moved to the public sector in 2008 to work for the Library of Birmingham. It was there that I met my future colleagues, Julie Smith and Eman Al-Hillawi, while working on an internal IT project. They must have been pleased with my work because a while later, I received a call from Julie to say a role had come up at Entec Si. I’ve never looked back.

The best thing about your job?

It’s the people, without a doubt. We all have our unique strengths but one thing we have in common is that we’re brilliant at getting the best out of each other to get great results for the client.

The past few months have really highlighted Entec Si’s commitment to its people. Every possible step has been taken to ensure we feel supported and kept in the loop about pandemic-related changes. After more than six months of working at home, I can honestly say that I still feel very well connected to my colleagues and like a valued part of the team.

What do you think you bring to Entec Si on a personal basis?

I hope that my versatility and determination to keep on improving have shone through in my first year at Entec Si. The team knows that they can rely on me to suggest new and better ways of doing things and my diverse project experience helps me to see problems from different perspectives, in order to offer the most effective solution. I’d also like to think that I’m honest and dependable, so people can always count on me to deliver my best, no matter how big or small the task.

How do you keep learning and develop your professional skills?

In the world of consultancy, it’s important to never stop improving your skills. Early on at Entec Si, I was given the opportunity to take my PRINCE2 project management qualification, which I’m very grateful for. The business is a strong believer in keeping its people up to date and at the forefront of industry developments. As part of my current training around the business’ new Salesforce CRM platform, I even have a weekly slot that’s dedicated to my learning.

The best thing about working in Birmingham?

Birmingham is an amazing and vibrant place to live and work and it’s hard to pick a single best thing! Investment is pouring into the city and I believe that it will play a vital role in the UK’s economic recovery over the next couple of years.

Your favourite things to do outside of work?

Lockdown has really helped to develop my passion for running. Doing it regularly has not only benefited my mental health and wellbeing, it’s helped to push me out of my comfort zone too. I recently ran a marathon for the very first time!

I think it’s also really important to learn something new if you have a chance, which is why I’ve taken up carpentry. I’m a long way from creating any masterpieces, but I have enjoyed making garden planters for members of my family.   

Who inspires you, and why?

It may sound like a cliché, but I really admire my fiancé. She moved to the UK a few years ago and has had to create a new life for herself, building a career from scratch. Her tenacity and courage have grown no end over the past few years and I know that she can handle anything that life throws at her.

Giving back to the Birmingham community

Lockdown has provided the perfect opportunity for us to ramp up our CSR activity. As a proud Birmingham business, we’ve put giving back at the top of our to-do list. In fact we’ve taken part in a charity drop-off initiative and a sponsored marathon for a local hospice.

Charity donations drop-off

In a bid against waste and fast fashion we’ve cleared out our closets to provide valuable donations to local charities. We worked with Age UK and KIT, a charity that provides families in need with childcare essentials. With this in mind we carefully selected and supplied the items that will be of most use, from clothes to toys and books.

A run for Primrose Hospice

Moreover our project coordinator, Shaun Richards, went a step further in his community giving during September. Shaun took part in a marathon to support Primrose Hospice, a charity close to his heart. Having helped care for Shaun’s father, the hospice supports patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families. Without doubt they provide both with the support they need during difficult times.  

Shaun said: “So far I have raised £900, which will hopefully give the hospice a well-deserved boost and keep this vital service going.”

Our principal consultant, Eman Al-Hillawi reflects:

“Supporting the local community has always been important to us. A people-focused approach is central to our organisation and we are proud to reflect that in both our transformation projects and our activities outside of work.

“In the current environment, it’s vital to do what we can to help those who work hard to make a difference. If our donations provide someone with clothes for a job interview or toys to entertain their children, then we couldn’t be happier.”

For anyone looking to make a donation, Shaun’s Just Giving page can be found here.

Prepare for take-off: Optimising the passenger journey

Delays can cause a host of issues for airports, increasing the risk of both reputational and commercial damage. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is now adding further considerations. Delays are not only an inconvenience for travellers, but could also potentially create health and safety risks, making efficiency a more important issue than ever before.

As such, careful consideration of passengers’ routes to and from the airport has become essential in ensuring that the experience is as smooth as possible. With this in mind, technology has become a vital tool for reducing passenger tensions, should anything go awry.

Using your website

While commonly overlooked, websites are a basic requirement for many businesses. They are often the first touchpoint for customers seeking information. Data collected from an airport website can provide airlines with the opportunity to customise the experiences they offer. For instance, offering discounts on executive lounges to passengers known to be arriving early, or updating travellers arriving by car of parking space availability.

Passenger journeys to your airport

It’s also vital to have an awareness of any factors that could impact the passenger journey, including:

  • Transport issues
  • Local infrastructure works
  • Seasonal changes
  • National holidays

Having an awareness of and communicating these potential disruptions with passengers as soon as possible can help to mitigate against any potential impact on travellers’ journeys and ensure expectations are managed.

Digital wayfinding is vital

Before the pandemic, a number of airports across the world were beginning to be considered destinations in themselves. Increasingly they were taking a much more customer-centric approach. Technology such as digital wayfinding, which allows passengers to navigate the terminal and access services, was being embraced. This has enabled passengers to make the most of their free time before flying.

However, over the last few months digital wayfinding technology has been given a new purpose – with clear signage around airports becoming essential to managing passenger flow around terminals and ensuring social distancing.

It is not always easy to balance these elements, however, by encouraging successful collaboration with stakeholders and partners and prioritising customer experience, airports can optimise the entire passenger experience while ensuring that it remains as safe as possible.

For more information on how to optimise the passenger journey, please contact Matthew Garett.

Meet the consultant…

In a nutshell, what do you do?

As a principal consultant, my role involves a bit of everything; leadership, building relationships and hands-on project delivery.

A big part of what I do is scoping our commissions and ensuring that all projects are delivered as agreed – this often involves keeping an eye on several at once!

As a mentor, I also need to know how to listen, help bring out the best in my team and support their development – an important quality of a good consultant.

How did your consultancy career begin?

I started my career in logistics for one of the world’s largest toy companies, which sounds like every child’s dream! As well as being a fun introduction to the world of work, the role sparked my life-long interest in continuous improvement and problem solving.

My first real taste of business transformation came when I helped to deliver a new IT project, focused on inventory management. From then on, I was hooked on the challenge of helping organisations to achieve positive change and have since supported with many fascinating projects across the public and private sectors.

What’s your favourite thing about Entec Si?

There’s a lot to love about working at Entec Si, from its warm and passionate people to the genuine commitment that the team puts into everything they do. Our focus on joined-up working with clients and culture of always going one step further, whether in terms of developing professional skills or spotting areas for improvement, also makes me proud to be part of the Entec Si family.

What are the vital skills of a change management consultant?

One essential quality is knowing how to listen – I learned early on the importance of following the “two ears, one mouth” rule when working with clients or team members! Identifying different perspectives is critical when comprehending how to make change happen. It’s also important to recognise that no single approach will work for everyone, so being able to adapt communication styles is vital too.

Being a good strategist and able to predict future challenges is also key – consultancy can be a bit like chess sometimes!

Your greatest achievement at Entec Si so far?

One of the projects that I’m proudest of is our work with the NHS on putting in place a coronavirus response strategy. While much of the UK was in lockdown, myself and the team were doing all we could to help the healthcare system manage the crisis and deliver an exceptional service to those in need. It was an intense time but I’m extremely proud of how the team handled the challenge (especially remotely) and the improvements we were able to make.

How have you found balancing work and life during the pandemic?

As a mother of two young girls who works full time, it hasn’t been easy! However, balancing my work and family life while working remotely has helped me to become more creative about how I structure my working day, and where I work! As someone who’s a real people person, not being able to talk to people face to face (over a nice cup of tea), has been particularly strange.

Working from home has also helped me to rekindle my love of running, which used to be difficult to fit into my day. In May, I even completed a half marathon!

Something we might not know about you?

Three years ago, my family and I set out on an ‘Eat, Pray, Love’-style adventure! We travelled across Europe and Asia and even enjoyed life in an idyllic French mountain village for a while. It was transformational – we really came together as a family and I was able to teach my girls things that they might not learn through traditional schooling. It made me realise that memories are one of the most precious things you can collect in life.

COVID-19 series: making the most of positive change in local government

The outbreak of COVID-19 prompted local authorities to make major organisational changes quickly. However, much of this transformation has been positive, resulting in modernised processes and offering employees a new level of flexibility. As such, it is important that the sector builds on the changes that have been made by adopting an attitude of continuous improvement.

Going digital

The rollout of digital processes has been a key focus of transformation in recent months. Without technologies such as the Cloud, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, for employees to successfully carry out their roles remotely.

Many local authorities were still following more traditional ways of working before the pandemic. Consequently, this digital shift has led to a cultural rethink.

Reassessing processes

Face-to-face meetings have always been a core part of the way local authorities function, but during the pandemic this has had to change.

The need to engage differently with communities has allowed traditional processes to be improved. There are a host of services, such as birth and death registrations, that can be effectively delivered online. In fact, a digital approach to daily business has the potential to increase productivity and efficiency.

Staying flexible

Remote working has been proven to be viable for the long-term. With the right technology, employees can work just as effectively as if they were in the office. Flexibility can also improve work-life balance, by allowing employees to work at times that suit them.

Continuous improvement

Now that we are entering the ‘new normal’, it is time for local authorities to assess the systems they introduced at the start of lockdown. Although they may have provided a temporary solution, these technologies might not fit with the organisation’s long-term strategy. Change management and transformation experts can help to identify areas for improvement and suggest alternative options.

Employees must also be involved in this transformation process to ensure new systems work for them, whether through questionnaires or regular meetings.

Local authorities must embrace this new agile and digital world, continuing to implement modern systems and processes that can benefit both local communities and employees.

For further guidance, contact us here.

COVID-19 series: achieving a positive post-coronavirus culture

The COVID-19 pandemic led to many organisations having to transform their ways of working. However, as we approach a ‘new normal’ in working practices, companies should take the opportunity to re-evaluate their processes and ensure that company culture remains a priority.  So, how can business leaders use the lessons learned during lockdown to keep employees happy and optimise the company’s commercial performance?

Embrace the benefits of flexible working

The benefits of remote working, specifically the lack of a commute and the opportunity to work flexibly, have allowed many people to develop a better work-life balance. Home working has also proved that employees do not need to be in the office five days a week to fulfil their roles – although some may wish to be! Moving forward, business leaders should take account of the views and opinions of their workforce before making any permanent changes to working practices.

Understand individual needs

It is important for companies to recognise that the changes experienced during lockdown won’t have been positive for everyone. Worries around furlough leave, job security and the need to balance childcare and home schooling will have been on many people’s minds. Therefore, it is important to remember that every employee is different. Subsequently change will impact them in unique ways. By considering employee feedback and keeping them involved in changes, business leaders can guarantee a smoother transition to the ‘new normal’ and a happier workforce.

Prioritise communication

Clear communication with employees is always vital, but especially during times of change. Open and honest dialogue will ensure that the workforce feels included and is more likely to get on board with improvements. By taking charge of  messaging at the very beginning of the change, giving regular updates and offering individuals the opportunity to ask questions,  business leaders can remain in control and ensure that communication is clear and consistent. 

By focusing on what’s worked well so far, the needs of employees and open communication, business leaders can succeed in creating a positive work culture that lasts long into the future.  

For more information on how you can maximise change, please contact the team here.

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