My first 4 years at Rencai
18 years old, cocky, a nightmare to manage and somebody who thought they knew everything… my worst nightmare, but it was me!
My time at Rencai has been a really interesting journey. Right from the first day when I was scared to upload a contact into Salesforce, to now where I find myself with my own PNL. In today’s blog I wanted to reflect on my top three moments at Rencai, so far, and three of the lessons that I’ve learnt along the way – I’ve also provided a quick update on Rencai towards the end.
Let me take you back to 2015. I was young, ambitious and VERY competitive. All three traits were probably the reason why Matt brought me in to the team. I’d studied business for around four years and knew a lot of the terminology but my goodness I had no idea what the business world was like.
Reflecting back, the last four years has been really interesting for me personally. The fact that I’ve worked in a small company has opened my eyes and made me realise what some of the worlds greatest entrepreneurs must have gone through to build a business. Equally, it has made me realise how easy it is to fail in business.
I have witnessed the challenges that come with working in a small business, as well as seeing the doors that it can open. I’ve had opportunities that other 22 year old’s talk about but will never actually live. In fairness to myself, it has taken an inner drive in order to succeed in a small business.
Over the last four years I’ve spoken to hundreds of people, ranging from CEO’s in corporate businesses, through to business owners who have 6 employees. I’ve also engaged with organisations who operate in 100+ countries and have 10,000+ staff. This coupled with my close network of associates and consultants – I’ve had an incredible opportunity to network with some of the most intelligent people across the UK. I’d just like to thank anyone that’s been open to speaking with me, as I’ve genuinely learnt something from every call, meeting and project – even the bad ones!
Firstly, I wanted to say a big thank you to the little man Matt for giving me an opportunity (I have no idea why based on my interview!). He’s been an incredible mentor at work but also personally, as he’s somehow managed to help me keep a 3 year relationship going with my girlfriend! I’m excited for the next couple of years with Rencai.
My top three moments at Rencai?
#1 Opportunity to go on and do a degree
For years I’ve banged on about degree’s just being a piece of paper with a letter on and I still stand by this. However, to have been given the opportunity to go through university and complete a degree whilst working full time has been brilliant and I am grateful.
Having been through the university system for the last three years it has taught me a lot. I’ve been able to learn but also apply my learning in the workplace, mainly around corporate social responsibility, stakeholder communication mapping and more recently financial planning. However, it has also made me aware of the disconnect between academia and reality. I’m sure that a lot of people will share the same view. If you’re going to apply any academic models, you MUST take into consideration your business, if you just implement a model then it is unlikely to have maximum impact.
The most enjoyable part of my degree has been the fact that everybody on my course is a part time student. People are based all over the UK right from Manchester, through the midlands to London and everyone works for a different type of businesses. It’s given me the opportunity to engage and learn from senior managers in corporates, through to junior managers in much smaller businesses – similar to myself. Once more, this kind of exposure has enabled me to adapt my approach but also learn from them.
#2 A meeting at Nandos head office
Who doesn’t love a Nandos? As a huge Nandos fan I used to joke that if I got a meeting at Nandos then I’d retire. This became a reality in 2017! Unfortunately I’m not in a position to retire but none the less I still reached my goal.
For me this was a lesson that if you really want something, then set small goals along the way and you’ll be able to reach your objective. As you can imagine, everyone will want to work with Nandos, so it wasn’t easy to even get in front of them but this was another great experience.
I’ve even set my LinkedIn profile picture as a photo of me in Nandos head office in Putney… and I have no plans to change it!
#3 Accountability and autonomy
Over the last four years I’ve been given the opportunity to go and work for much larger consultancy’s, with more established brands and quite frankly better financial opportunities but the opportunity that Matt has provided me with doesn’t even come close. Firstly, I’ve experienced first-hand what it takes to run a business right from PNL, through to sales and marketing. I’ve also been given exposure to a number of self-assessment tools that have improved my emotional intelligence.
The most recent tool is called GC index and has allowed me to understand how I typically function – I’m a polisher. Essentially someone who is obsessed with perfection and sets high standards. On one hand this is good as you its great to be constantly looking to improve but also, it can prove costly in terms of time and also it builds frustration within myself and those around me. Having this kind of insight will only allow me to improve.
I’ve also had the opportunity to use other assessment tools such as Emergentics and Motivational maps in the past. Along with sales training from the “Telephone Assassin”, Anthony Stears.
Thanks to Matt I have also been given the opportunity to produce two papers that we regularly share with clients that give advice on engaging employees and employee wellbeing strategy.
Key lessons learnt?
- There’s millions of companies in the world – if people want to work with you and you build a good relationship then great. But in reality not everyone will want to work with you and you won’t get along with everyone. There’s times when you will catch people on a bad day, we all have them, but you cannot take anything personally. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt is that there’s millions of businesses in the world – the odds are stacked in your favour, never give up!
- The importance of leadership skills – even if you’re not managing people! This is still a key development area for me. However, I’ve learnt that whether you’re leading a team of 50 or if you’re only responsible for yourself, basic leadership skills are absolutely critical. The ability to listen, communicate and deliver/accept feedback will prove vital if you want to succeed in business.
- Mentality is key – If you go into things with a negative mentality then it will not only impact you but also those around you. No matter how hard, always try to be positive. Even if it’s a case of taking 3 positive steps per day – no matter how big or little.
- Always remember the basics – I see far too many businesses trying to run before they can walk, which has led to me developing Rencai’s “brilliant basics” support model. Get your foundations in place and then look at the advanced exciting things!
As part of this weeks blog I wanted to share an update on where Rencai are up to, as appreciate I haven’t had the opportunity to catch up with all of my network.
We’ve been through a real transition since the start of 2018. When I first joined in 2015 we were consistently support HR leadership teams in corporates to deliver transformation programmes. We mainly focused on “fixing” poorly implemented HR structures and models, along with delivering SaaS HRIS implementations – systems such as Workday and Successfactors. Although we worked on some fantastic projects with the likes of British Council, Allen and Overy and Amey, we decided to take a risk and completely change our model.
Since the start of 2018 we have been supporting clients in two core areas: how to better engage employees and improving leadership capability right from exec’s through to future leaders.
We focus on engagement as we see it as a result of a number of initiatives and projects. For example: employee recognition and reward, wellbeing, communication, employer branding etc. We have employee survey software, custom built workshops and a range of other services available for clients. Our support ranges from half a day, through to retained days and most clients go for our 12 month employee engagement programme – which we have a 100% customer retention rate!
Leadership support and development has been our main growth area over the last 6 months. Our support ranges from working with senior leaders on how to work ON their business and not IN it. We also regularly facilitate sessions that look at improving the people management capability of line/middle tier managers. Finally, we regularly support clients to identify and develop future leaders. Again our support ranges from one day, through to a retained model and then on to annual programmes.
All of our projects at custom built and we typically deliver all of the project work as an internal team, along with sometimes drawing upon the expertise of our associate network.
The last 18+ months has given us the opportunity to work with clients all over the UK including locally in Manchester, through to Stoke, London, Salford, Worsley, Leeds, Newcastle and even Scotland and Wales.
As I approach my 4 year Rencai anniversary in October I cannot thank everyone enough for their time but also support over the last 4 years. Special thanks to Dan Fish, Beth Hood, Eleanor Nickerson, Paul Meneely, Sabba Choudry, Beth Cooper, Craig Hudd, Fran Costello, Peter Harrington, Ian Williams, Gerry Skelton and Matt Wilden.