Four Lessons Learned in my First Year as Ensono’s Managing Director of Europe
Howard Malloy SVP, Managing Director
My first year as Ensono’s Managing Director Europe has been a fantastic whirlwind of activity. This was my second time moving to another country to start a new role. I have worked for Ensono in the US, India, and now the UK. Even in today’s globalised world, leaders switching between regions can appear seamless but that couldn’t be further from the truth. What many people discount is the ability to perform at a high level in a new country and this is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. As well as a new job, you are also having to get used to building a new home. Everything is new: even basic things like electricity, how to make the hot water work, how to get around cities, and even which side of the road people drive on. Adjusting to this new culture is a process, but critically important if a leader is to be successful.
As I reach the first 12 months in the role, I wanted to take the time to reflect on this journey – what it takes for a leader to make that transition, the successes of the last year, and crucially, where I hope to take the business next in 2023 and beyond.
1. Focus on establishing a shared vision that makes people part of something bigger
For any leader, inspiring a shared vision is crucial. It sets the scene for the team and provides a framework from which people can work from. If the leader can inspire a shared vision, a team will figure out how to make it happen. This is an ongoing process, and leaders need to focus on keeping employees engaged in making it a reality.
Over the last year, I have made engagement a critical part of my new role. There has been more all hands meetings and roundtables, bringing together teams to discuss how we can continue to go the extra mile for clients. It has been great to see the energy and sense of momentum across team, with people feeling part of driving solutions and shaping the where the business goes next.
2. Find what differentiates your business and double down on it
This shared vision is built on differentiation. Businesses need to find what really sets them apart from competitors and focus their activity on it. Ensono has a broad breadth of expertise right across clients’ technology transformation from mainframe to cloud, and we have focused the company on driving that home to the market. Our partnerships with all the hyperscalers are key here, giving us the ability to support clients wherever they need to go on their transformation journey. I am also really excited about the new digital capabilities we have been growing in Europe, with Alan Walsh and team bringing a market-leading offer to unleash clients’ data, redefine what Identity and access management looks like, and engineer cloud-native applications that scale.
Mainframe is a particularly important part of that vision in Europe, with our team having an unmatched breadth of expertise to help mainframe clients optimise, modernise, and innovate on and around the mainframe, allowing it to be core to their business. We believe we can help businesses innovate and ensure the mainframe continues to drive positive outcomes for any organisation as they are going through a digital transformation that’s critical for the future growth of their business.
This focus on differentiation is already bearing fruit in Europe and will be instrumental in the continued success of the business.
3. Build credibility with clients by listening to their problems
Coming into the UK team as an American leader, it can be easy for people to question your presence. Assumptions are made: you don’t have the local knowledge on the UK market and people can see you as an outsider who doesn’t understand the specific needs of UK businesses.
The answer? Listen. It is simple to say, but sitting down with business leaders and taking the time to understand their problems goes a long way. I have a background in operations, so I bring a mentality of breaking down pain points with a client and connecting them to a technology solution that can lead to their desired business outcome. When you deliver on these things, and respond to their needs, you rapidly find yourself winning the trust of even the most cautious clients, and moving to the status of being their trusted partner.
Listening to clients extends far beyond the initial deal. Meaningful relationships with clients require constant, transparent engagement to ensure they are continuing to see value from the services we provide. With this trust in place, customers will be more likely to stay with us and potentially make the most of the services we offer over time.
4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
One of my biggest priorities when moving to the UK was winning over employees. We have a dispersed workforce spread across the UK, and I knew I would need to get them excited and engaged if I was to have any hope of success here. So, I have put employee communication at the heart of my first 12 months in charge. This has meant travelling around the UK, meeting people in our offices around the country and taking the time to understand what they need from me as MD.
Alongside this, I have made a conscious effort to go into our main office in London. I have set myself up at a table in the main area where people come to eat lunch and work together, which is the perfect place to meet people and connect. The message I want to send is one of accessibility. It may be my Mid-West American upbringing talking, but I just think it is so important to say hello to everyone. This may perhaps have been a bit of a culture shock to some of my colleagues, but eventually people recognised that I was genuinely interested in their day and how I could help them.
Small steps like these help everyone feel engaged and supported at work. More one-to-one meetings and general check ins with people send everyone a clear message: we are in this together, no matter where you are in the organisation you can make an impact.
The last year taught me a lot about myself and what it takes to lead a team. Looking ahead I am confident that the Ensono Europe team have a bright future and will continue to deliver exceptional, marketing-leading results for clients. I am focused on continuing to build our profile and ensure our unique end-to-end transformation capabilities, from mainframe through to cloud-native development, find the clients who need our help.