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Leadership Tips from Fergus Murphy

Leadership Tips from Fergus Murphy - European Product and Field Marketing Director, Client Solutions at Dell

A little bit about myself:

A native of Dublin, I graduated in Electronic Engineering from Trinity College, Dublin and subsequently from INSEAD’s Marketing Telecommunications program in Paris.

Like lots of my colleagues at the time, I moved away a few years after graduating from college and ended up living for extended periods in France and the United States. From Westinghouse Canada (Wescan) to Retix to Apple to Logica Mobile Networks (now CGI) and most recently Dell Technologies, I have spent over 25 years working in the technology industry, both software, hardware and solutions.

I have a passion for products which has permeated all of my roles - engineering, pre-sales, product management, product marketing, marketing programs, business management, field marketing, sales enablement and the list goes on.

Based out of our facility in Cherrywood, Dublin, I currently lead field marketing and sales enablement for Dell Technologies Client Solutions business across Europe, Middle East and Africa. I am also responsible for incubating product marketing for new business solutions and a regular spokesperson for Dell Technologies in the area of Workforce Transformation and emerging trends.

On the personal front, I am a father of two young engineering graduates - it seems to be in the DNA! Speaking of DNA, when not immersed in the day job, I have an interest in family history and am an amateur genealogist in my spare time – having recently completed a master’s in history of the Family at the University of Limerick. Important as it is to counterbalance all that cerebral activity with something physical, I am an avid boot camper and keen tennis player when I get the time.

My tips on building a strong quality culture within this industry…

The most important aspect of any great company is its culture and that ‘culture code’ needs to be well-defined and clear to all of its people – they are the most valuable long-term asset for any company, big or small. A culture code needs to be a set of values, beliefs and leadership principles that unite the employee base which will help to ensure that it is a great place to work.

In today’s technology industry, diversity and inclusion are two key values that will enable a strong culture and a committed workforce. Your customers come from all kinds of background, and with a diverse workforce, you are able to ensure that they reflect and understand the market that you operate in and, in turn, that makes for better customer relationships.

As a people leader, I have always strived to be inclusive in a way that everyone feels comfortable that they bring their real selves to work, and don’t have to conform to some preconceived notion of what they need look like, how they need to speak, etc. This will also ensure that you have the most diverse set of opinions available to you – no one person or group of people have a monopoly on all the great ideas – which in turn reflects your customers and makes for them to be more satisfied. To quote Simon Sinek @simonsinek “Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first”. One of the great industry initiatives in this area is called MARC (Men/Many Advocating Real Change), an immersive learning program that engages team members in real conversations about gender, diversity, unconscious bias and privilege. As a MARC Ambassador within Dell Technologies, this is a program that I truly believe in.

Finally, I would recommend to any company in the technology industry that they have their finger on the pulse of their employee’s feedback and understanding their experience through regular internal surveys that measure employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS). Two-way dialog is important to any relationship and the employee-employer relationship is no exception. It engenders a strong, positive culture (as long as the results are considered of course). Simple things can make a difference – like the tools that are given to employees to do their job. Indeed, IDC tells us that, while only 23% of IT decision-makers are measured on their employee’s NPS today and 60% of G2000 corporations will be actively monitoring employee experience by 2021. And with good reason, employee experience can predict business performance e.g. MIT research shows that enterprises that have a top-quartile employee experience achieve twice the innovation and double customer satisfaction than organisations with a bottom-quartile experience. That doesn’t mean that we all have to give the ‘Google experience’ to our employees but listening to their feedback is paramount to great company culture.

My secret to driving change through challenging times…

Once you get the culture right, everything else becomes easier and driving change can be one of the tougher challenges to face any company. This is where inclusivity enters in a different guise. Executing change is made much easier if the process behind it is inclusive, inclusive of those that will effect or be affected by the change. Whether the challenge be a reorganisation, downsizing or behavioural change, people are much more likely to get on-board if they have been involved in finding a solution to that challenge.

Communicate, communicate, communicate…sounds like a cliché and may seem obvious but it is often forgotten – at the risk of overcommunication. It is better to be inclusive and open by communicating what you don’t know just as much as what you do know. In my opinion, honesty and integrity go a long way in driving change and always take precedence in business over my desire to win. That, in turn, builds trust, which is another key pillar to driving change.

My secret to becoming a true partner to our clients…

It sounds obvious but actively listening to our customers and taking the time to understand their business and their challenges before proposing solutions. In the technology industry in particular, there is still too much of a tendency to try and sell a solution to a problem that may not exist or have the customer listen to us before being listened to themselves.

Secondly, as vendors, we are in a position to help our customers by facilitating the sharing of best practice. Never underestimate the power of doing so, of acting as a catalyst for customers to help each other. Many customers in the midst of digital transformation today can learn from one another.

The biggest challenge facing my industry today…

Finding talented and qualified people is one of the biggest challenges facing technology companies, whether that be in Ireland or abroad. Once you have the talent on board, retaining it due to tough competition also requires a big focus. Indeed, that takes us back to the importance of employee experience. One important facet of that retention is making sure that workers have the technology they need to be productive. Many of you will not be surprised with the results shown from some research that Dell Technologies has conducted, that is, that 44% of workers would leave a company if substandard technology is provided. It goes beyond technology too, 65% of workers prefer to work for an organisation that offers mobility and flexibility – the oft-touted ability to work anywhere, anytime.

The greatest opportunity available to our industry today is…

At Dell Technologies, our vision is to ‘enable people everywhere to grow and thrive’ and to improve people’s lives. This is an opportunity open to our industry as a whole – whether that be running DNA through a computer to find out what could cure some from a deadly illness just like TGen have done, or leveraging robots in dementia care as NUI Galway have been looking at. Lets put technology to good use for mankind!

My view on key concerns to look out for moving into 2020…..

With all of the focus on the need for climate action, businesses in general and the technology industry in particular has an opportunity to play a significant role in reducing our carbon footprint. This may require businesses to transform significantly as Bord na Mona is doing with its plan to move away from peat extraction to producing sustainable energy. For my own industry, the closer we get to a ‘circular economy’, whereby we close the recycling loop and reuse materials from used electronics in new products, then the more sustainable we become. Similarly, the more we can reduce the energy intensity of our product portfolio, the better it is for the environment.

The ocean-bound plastics crisis is another area where we as an industry have an opportunity to make a difference and initiatives like NextWave are setting out to create the first network of ocean-bound plastics supply chains with a view to reducing the volume of plastic waste before it enters the ocean. These are just three examples, there are many other ways in which the technology industry can act on climate change and become more environmentally friendly. Let’s start 2020 by putting the plans in place and getting a start on or giving a higher priority to execution of those plans.

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