'Purpose: What Drives a Modern Successful Business?' Elizabeth Vega, Group CEO, Informed Solutions
How do you build a sustainable, respected, high performing and profitable business within the disruptive Digital and IT marketplace? We operate within a landscape defined by a dire shortage of skills; a large contracting and gigging workforce that often doesn’t seek stable employment; permanent staff with an average tenure of just 18 to 24 months; a large proportion of companies driven by short-term profits that will poach aggressively for the skills they need but don’t invest in training; expectations of high pay, generous benefits and flexible working; the emergence of new technologies that require people to be regularly re-trained and re-skilled. When you add this to the prevailing political, societal and environmental uncertainty, how does a business create stability, become sustainable and remain profitable?
We found our solution to this problem by starting with our people and our purpose.
Following the last staff conference, our people got together to work on better describing ‘what we stand for’ at Informed Solutions. Identifying and agreeing not just what we do and how we do it, but also what drives and motivates us to work together to take on big challenges. After some lively debate, we agreed that (to us) ‘making a difference’ professionally meant using our skills and capabilities to benefit others, as well as ourselves. We defined the purpose behind our business as aiming to create economic and social value by helping build a more inclusive, fair and safe society through the ethical use of technology and data, and by investing in innovation and digital skills for the future.
This brainstorming helped our teams converge on and articulate the ‘why’ that drives Informed Solutions; influencing and shaping our workplace environment, the way we do business with others, and the ethics behind the solutions and services that we develop for clients. Moreover, it became clear that this purpose underlines our culture of respect, support, collaboration and commitment; offered to everyone that we work with, from our own people and alliance partners, to the clients and stakeholders that we serve.
When you set out to build a sustainable business, your people, alliance partners and the communities you are part of become as important as the clients that you work for. We’ve built a modern, egalitarian company where highly skilled people who are well-paid, well trained and benefit from a flexible working framework, also appreciate the need to be great colleagues; trustworthy, competent, reliable, committed and team-spirited. In the competitive IT and Digital sectors, where money is the currency on which most relationships are judged, and where current skills are often valued more highly than people, we are finding a way to create balance, respect, trust, loyalty and more enjoyable workplace dynamics.
This approach to building modern professional relationships enables us to maintain strong, enduring working partnerships between people. Where the average length of employment for permanent staff in our sector is only 18 to 24 months, at Informed Solutions the average tenure is 7 years. Each year, we also typically take on an additional 10% of headcount in graduate associates and work placements, paying it forward to the next generation of professionals by investing in and up-skilling people for the jobs of the future.
We invest in our people. We invest in skills and innovation. We invest in building a culture focused on balanced professional relationships that work for all parties. Our aim is to attract and develop top professionals that have shared values, are committed to and enjoy working together to take on large, complex projects.
So, how are we creating a sustainable, profitable, growing business? We start with our people and then we work hard to harness the energy of the disruptive Digital and IT marketplace, whilst ensuring that the core of our stability comes from a culture based on shared values and shared purpose.
Elizabeth Vega, Group CEO Informed Solutions, Cabinet Office Small & Medium Business Panel Member & Chair of the Meet the Buyer Working Group, 2018 Digital Leader Founder Award Winner, 2018 Queens Award for Enterprise: Innovation Winner, DIT Northern Powerhouse Export Champion, ScaleUp Institute ‘Access to Markets’ Committee Member.