In conversation with…
Peter Richardson, Protiviti’s UK country market leader, will hand over the reins to technology consulting leader Tom Lemon in April 2021. Following a year like no other, we find out about lessons learned, delivering change, and what’s coming up for both of them in the next 12 months
What have the past 12 months been like?
Peter Richardson – They have been absolutely astonishing. Last year, we felt a great deal of concern about the impact of the pandemic on our ability to deliver work remotely and to develop new business. But I think we have surprised ourselves. We have been able to convert our business to a virtual model.
We’ve worked hard to support our people with new technology. We’ve set up new forums and events, alongside social media, to promote our message and get our brand recognised. We’ve also looked after our people’s wellbeing: from the environments they work in, to helping them feel connected, and part of the organisation. We’ve tried to be very fulsome in our communication and in our inclusion.
I feel very grateful for such a fantastic team of people around me to enable these things to happen. I think we’ve been pretty successful.
Tom Lemon – I agree, the last 12 months have been really crazy. I’m sure everyone will recognise that in their own personal way.
One of the things I’m really proud of is the way we’ve looked after our people. The situation is impacting all of us, but in different ways, depending on our situations. I’m really focused on being mindful and highly communicative as a result. There are positives like that we’ll need to build on as we look forwards.
I’m also really proud of how we’ve reacted from a technology perspective. I’m a bit of a technology guy at heart. I remember that first weekend after lockdown in March 2020 when we rolled out Microsoft Teams across the business. Suddenly, we were an organisation that could work adeptly, remotely. We’ve helped people with new technology to be effective in their jobs and therefore been able to continue supporting our clients.
Peter – We will be moving into a hybrid model of working, with both local and remote delivery of work to clients, in future. I was at a conference recently with a large number of clients who were talking about reducing their office footprint by around 30 per cent. So, they are anticipating a different working style, too. Making that model work, and our ability to deliver to our clients, is going to be really critical.
How do you think the trend of digital transformation will develop in the new working world?
Peter – One thing we’ve learned in the past year is how to overcome barriers to change. As a result, I think we’ve increased our expectations about improving and changing things quickly. That includes the application of technology and the delivery of services; and the same focus will apply to our clients and their customers.
I do expect the digital transformation agenda to get faster as we move forward but it’s not just digital transformation. It’s our ability to transform quickly and address things in months that used to take years. Just look at the vaccine programme. When something was needed quickly, the world could do it, and I think the same is going to apply in other areas when delivering change in future.
Peter, you are moving into a new role and Tom will become the new country market leader for Protiviti UK. Tell us about that…
Peter – I’m really excited to look at the future of work and what it means, particularly for our clients, across the world. Both Protiviti and Robert Half have a lot of very interesting things to say, from a consulting and people perspective.
I’m pretty sad to be leaving my role as leader of the UK business. I’ve enjoyed working with an amazing bunch of people for the last four and a half years. But I know that Tom Lemon is a brilliant leader with immense capability. He has a huge amount of support across the business and a leadership team that has worked together effectively for many months.
So, while there is a degree of sadness, I also look upon the next chapter with a with a smile on my face and a huge degree of optimism. Because I see this business going from strength to strength.
Tom – Thanks Peter, that’s very kind. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to seeing people again. We’ve got several large clients I spend a lot of time with on the phone, and on video meetings, but I haven’t actually met in person. I really can’t wait to spend more time with our clients to understand how we can help them with their challenges. I’d say the same about all of our people. I miss our team. I’m dying for some social interaction with our colleagues in the UK. I’m really excited for the months ahead when we’re able to start doing that again.
Tom, how do you think the next 12 months will play out for clients and for Protiviti in the UK?
Tom – There are a few things on my mind. Firstly, organisations that had already invested in technology before the pandemic, such as cloud services, have been able to respond better in this remote working world. Last year, we saw different levels of flexibility and adaptability, and some companies have had to invest a lot to continue serving their customers.
Secondly, some industries have been severely affected by this situation, such as hospitality and travel. They’ve got to figure out how they can take advantage of what we hope will be a bounce back in the economy as government controls start to ease. For other industries, such as financial services, there’s an ever-changing regulatory landscape that will continue to evolve. There will be new regulations coming out in the next year around operational resilience, for example.
I also think that companies need to reflect on how they operate, how they manage their people, the types of facilities they need, and their different ways of working in the future. Companies should take advantage of the positives, such as new technology, but also deal with some of the negatives, including the lack of social interaction. These are the trends that will be front of mind for us and our clients.