(274) The Apprentice

On this week’s show we are joined by Lifecycle Software’s Kelvin Chaffer to talk about his own career from developer apprentice to CEO, and how they have built a business around developing new talent.

Transcript (Auto generated so treat with a little caution…)

Matt: Hello and welcome to episode 274 of WB40, the weekly podcast with me Matt Ballantine, Chris Weston and Kelvin Chaffer.

Chris: Welcome back everybody, another episode of WB40 and we’re here again with you bringing you the news and… Opinions that are so, well, no, Matt’s, Matt’s turning his nose up. We do bring you news. We bring you news each week of what we’ve been doing, the various opinions we have, the things that have wound us up.

It is news, Matt. It’s news to some people, just because it’s not news to the whole world. It’s news to the ladies and gentlemen. Okay, fair enough. Yeah, I mean, not news news, I’m not bloody Peter Sissons, for goodness sake. But, , yeah, and so here we are again, and I’m very glad to be here. In fact, I’m very glad indeed, it’s been a busy old week.

What have you been up to, Matt?

Matt: Well, we had the second week of lots of off site activity at work, and I ran a whole day of it on Wednesday, which I really enjoyed. You know, presenting for half an hour is hard work. Being able to coordinate the whole day is exhausting. But it went very well. And there were some experiments that we did, which seemed to come off, which is good.

And lots of people built new connections, which was one of the aims of the whole thing. And I think when you’re working in this hybrid way, being able to make space for people to come together and then not really have anything to do so that they can just talk to one another. is a, um, well it’s a strategy and it’s the one that I adopted and it seemed to work, which is good.

, and then at the weekend to, , well it was actually just a complete fluke of the timing of it, but, uh, I had a long weekend. And I went to visit a friend who lives in Prague in the Czech Republic. And, , had a wonderful… Long weekend, and, , we ate well, and we went to watch a fantastic game of football, , at, Sparta Prague, which was good.

, although sadly I remembered then the sight of Watford’s terrible 4 0 defeat. Uh, against Sparta in our one European outing back in 1984. , but, you know, I let it go. That’s good.

Chris: It’s a long time to be, long time to be burdened by that.

Matt: Well, no, I’m also still, there are many things I’m burdened by in football and most of them relate to about that era, it has to be said.

, and, , the, I don’t know, the thing with Prague is really, If you say to somebody, particularly if you’re a bloke, you say to somebody, I’m going to Prague at the weekend, then the immediate response is almost like a Pavlovian response is, is it a stag do? And there are a lot of stag do’s that obviously go on in Prague.

There are some particularly unpleasant. things coming back on the plane on the way back on Sunday. But if you manage to avoid all the stag do’s, Prague is the most wonderful city. And I think that it’s, yeah, well worth the trip. We had some fantastic food, both at a little brewery which had a restaurant on it one lunchtime, and then, , went to a Mexican place in the center of the city.

It’s, it’s very cosmopolitan, very chic, thoroughly enjoyed it. So, , that was good. And then came back, had a day working at home today, and then we’re back into the maelstrom of, you know. The day to day and then trying to avoid watching the politics on the telly for fear of getting really wound up by it.

So, um, yeah, that’s the week. How about you? How has your week been?

Chris: , pretty COVID stricken actually for some of it, but I, I’ve hard to know quite how that happened because I don’t think I think I might even tell the last week my daughter had tested positive for COVID and I’d been a bit ill, but then I was better.

And then I had, I’ve had this a few times, but I’ve never had this kind of revenge of COVID thing where it comes back and whacks you over the back of the head for a few days, you know, when you think it’s gone. So I was in London on Wednesday. I was at a tech UK event called building the smartest state, which was actually really interesting and very well worth going.

And I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I felt a bit, , bit wheezy, but not. Not, but not out of breath actually, just when I was walking, you know, if I, if I was on my own route to the tube section or something and, and, and, you know, walking faster, I think that is a bit more hard work than I’m used to. And over the weekend I essentially was, was, was flat out.

So yeah, I mean, last week was a bit, bit of a write off, but, Wednesday was super. And as long as I didn’t give everybody, COVID and, It was one of those weeks where, you know, quite a lot happened and then, and in some ways not much happened. And we had an announcement at work where we’ve had some investment in our company.

So GMI is now owned by another business. So that’s quite interesting because it opens up new opportunities. And, so, you know, watch this space to see what happens there. And yeah, all good fun. What can I say? It’s a, it’s a, it’s a roller coaster.

Matt: Absolutely. And this new investment, , You’ve got people who are investors rather than it being an acquisition or, , like buy another company.

Chris: It’s an acquisition, , essentially by a, , investment group. So, uh, sort of build, build a group kind of people. It’s quite small, you know, in that sense, not, not a, not a kind of black rock. It’s not BlackRock, so yeah, in terms of my last, , employment. , so yeah, it’s, , it’s quite interesting, quite an intriguing, uh, setup remains to be seen.

Matt: Excellent. Look forward to hearing what happens. Joining us this week, uh, CEO of Lifecycle Software, Kelvin Chaffer. , Kelvin, how’s your week been?

Kelvin: I didn’t go to Prague, so, , clearly wasn’t as exciting as that. , , we had lots of customer visits and it’s been discussed in lots of new use cases for an event management system that we’ve been building for one of our, , one of our MP& Os, one of our customers, which has been really interesting.

, and then at the weekend, I watched the Ryder Cup and watched the, the Europeans smash the, , the Americans, which was, was amazing. And in Newbury, we had some crazy, , it’s hard to explain, it was like a giant puppet walking through the town in a procession, who was called Mo, and he was like a refugee.

, and, yeah, it was like 45 minutes of this huge 12 foot puppet thing walking through and, , music and, and lots of other stuff going on. Tell the story of his time since he’d arrived. It was very interesting. Although a little bit weird

Matt: Yeah, sounds it sounds it. , I’m not the thing. You’d usually see in Newbury High Street one would imagine

Kelvin: Not normally

Matt: Yeah, actually, I’m I’m not a big golf fan But I did the people I was with at the weekend were and so the the golf There was some instant with a hat.

I didn’t really catch any more than that, but there was some controversy Which was hat

Chris: based and um… It’s going to be really difficult. It’s going to be a long story. Okay,

Matt: alright.

Kelvin: I

Chris: won’t dig into it. Let’s not do it. I occasionally wait for my delirium to check out the scores. I was very pleased to see them win.

Matt: It all seemed very rowdy as well. But we were watching it on the TV for a bit and it’s… Because you’ve got like dozens of people all playing at the same time. I don’t know if watching golf on the TV is usually like this. But it just seemed to be like shot after shot after shot after shot. It was like an edited highlights thing.

But in real time it was… It was quite surreal and I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but, um, yeah, all good. And, , obviously yet another good argument for Europe, I’d say, which is good. Anyway, , we are going to be talking on themes of apprenticeship and developing careers

I should probably crack on.

So this week, , a theme we’ve touched on in the past a few times, but usually actually from the perspective of people. services to, to, to others. , this week, I think it’s a bit more of a personal story in many ways, , about the idea of, of building careers and attracting people into the tech industry and the telecoms industry and the idea of apprenticeships.

Now, before we get into the, the kind of your career story, which I think is, is Fascinating, Kelvin. , it’d be probably helpful just to set the scene a little bit. So you’re the CEO of a company called Lifecycle Software. Just tell us a little bit about what it is that Lifecycle do.

Kelvin: So Lifecycle Software are a company that offer BSS.

And have done for the last 30 years. No one knows what BSS is, which is, which is always good. But effectively, we look after the billing and customer management of, of telecoms operators. We started primarily with a fixed line. W. R. C. P. S. And some other acronyms that again, I’m sure people weren’t aware of, but more recently we’ve moved into the mobile space.

And in the last 10 years, focus has been on another acronym, which is N. V. N. O. S. Which are basically the likes of gift gas, smarty plus net mobile companies like that. They don’t necessarily have their own network, but they piggyback on on someone else’s. And we effectively right will be you. All the software that allows them to run their business.

So that includes customer relationship management, the self care, so the piece which you log onto and check your own bill. We actually do the billing. So we create the invoice, which then in turn takes a payment from your bank account so that you keep receiving service. All the reporting that allows our customer to to understand their network.

And. Over the last sort of five years again, we’ve had like a huge focus on automation and trying to make the systems as light touch as possible. So 99. 95 percent of the events that are happening in the system are fully automated, uh, triggering all workflows and making sure that the customers are receiving the right information about where they are in their.

Allowance, uh, at any given time. And because of all that automation, our MVNOs, can sort of be a bit leaner. so a good example is, uh, Smarty who, uh, piggyback on the three network. They’ve got a subscriber to employee ratio of 13, 750 to one, which is similar to the likes of Netflix. So yeah, effectively they can do more with less.

Matt: , in that little market, it’s obvious actually when you think about it, but it’s something of a surprise that actually these mobile virtual operators are not only they’re piggybacking on the networks, but from the sounds of it, many of them are also using similar software as well.

So actually it’s a presumably then actually the way they differentiate is in terms of price and brand.

Kelvin: Yeah, exactly. Exactly that. So I mean, there’s a bit of a race to the bottom. Currently more data for less. MV& Os really need to be able to differentiate themselves. And actually one of the things that, uh, our mission statement is, is to try and allow any, anyone to become an MV& O.

So if, if you’ve got a brand or a A customer base already, you could potentially sell mobile services to add to whatever it is that you’re currently doing.

Matt: Chris, do you think we should branch into mobile operations? What

Chris: do you reckon? WB40 MVNO? Yeah. I reckon we could do that. I reckon, I don’t know what our, what our specialism

Matt: would be.

What would be Dolphin based? No, anyway, let’s move away from that idea. It’s probably how I’ve asked, not the first time. You’ve been there for, for quite some time, this 30 year old software company. You’ve been there for most of that time because you started there as an apprentice. Back in some years ago now, 20 something years ago.

Kelvin: Yeah. So I started in 1999. I think I came in as a as a placement student. So I did a, a sandwich course as part of, as part of my university at, uh, at Bournemouth. Um, and I had to do a year in industry. So I came in, did a year, got chucked in the deep, deep end somewhat. We were a bit smaller and, yeah, a bit smaller at the time. So I came in and did software development. Software development initially, and my 1st project was working on the Y2K project and trying to fix, uh, all the bugs that were going to happen. I’ll see, as we moved into the new year, I did, well, what I did at the time was rewrite all lots and lots of SQL statements to make it work with the new date time to turn it to a four digit year, extremely interesting stuff.

Chris: Ah, but somebody’s got to do it. It’s quite a handy time to be at that age because everybody needed. Willing hands to pull horrible old, uh, shell, you know, shell scripts and sesquicycle code and whatever it might be apart and, and just check them and, and get, and, you know, just make them into a 40 edit dates or do some windowing or something.

It was quite a handy time to be at that, part of your career, really. Cause you know, I, I guess, yeah, it’s quite tedious work, but you’ll learn a fair bit from

Kelvin: it. Yeah. So, I mean, that was the first time. I’d done any sort of SQL, really. I mean, I obviously got some training as part of, as part of the placement, but my fingers were certainly crossed, come midnight that, nothing was going to fall over and the world wasn’t going to, and, but again, a great first experience, to do some real software development for.

Real customers, as opposed to coming in and, and just sort of doing background tasks. again, a good, it felt good to do something that was needed and necessary.

Matt: And then you finished your degree and then you got taken off full time?

Kelvin: Yeah, so one of the things that Lifecycle did then and still, still do now is they basically sponsored me to go back to the university for the final year.

Um, they, they basically paid for my board for that final year on the proviso that I returned at the end of my course. and I obviously get some some. Good grades is part of that. but again, I mean, that’s, that sponsorship, was good for both of us. It was good because they were bringing back someone who they trained for the year and, and was well aware of the systems, and it was obviously good for me because I knew that I was going to finish university, walk straight into a job and didn’t have to worry about all that come the end of, come the end of my course.

So again, convenient on both sides.

Matt: Absolutely. And then, so since then, in the years that have passed, you’ve basically, you’ve gone up through a development initially path in terms of becoming a more senior developer and then into development management.

Kelvin: Yeah. So I mean, over the years, I’ve been a bit of Jack of all trades, I suppose.

So I did start in software development. but I was given the freedom to sort of move into all the different areas, professional services, managed services, et cetera. Business analysis and helped spec out lots of new requirements for different customers. I did testing and validated that whatever was being written was, was set for purpose before it was being released.

I did release management back in the day where you had to care a bit more about all the DLs and all the other stuff that needed to be packaged up before it was stuck onto a, uh, onto a server. service management. So again, very customer facing, and support the customers with any billing or, or customer action that they might, might have needed to do.

and then sort of the sales side of things as well, really. So demos to systems going on, on customer sites and showing them what we could do, try and close whatever deal it might’ve been at the time. So, I’m going to guess I was okay at all of them, but probably far from brilliant at any of them.

Matt: Is there any part of the the business that you haven’t been involved in?

Kelvin: until recently I had nothing to do with any of the marketing side of things but in the CEO role, I’ve, had, some direction in that, I’d say some direction it’s typically, uh, being ignored. We did some rebranding recently, and, I was most certainly ignored for, for all of that.

But, and rightfully ignored because what came out was extremely fresh and, and different and showed the direction that we wanted to go as a company. So I can’t complain at that.

Chris: Yeah, there comes to a point where, you know, we’ll get to a certain age where you’re almost certainly going to be wrong. And therefore, whatever you say should be, we should do the opposite.

Right. And that’s it. And that sort of thing. I think that’s, that’s a fair point. and I’m interested though, in terms of CEO, being CEO. When you’re developing, you know, you have a singular focus often, although you know, I can see you’ve done lots of different things and you’ve had a, you’ve had your eye on, or the other needs

there’s, there’s a, there’s a real focus on quality, which should be when you’re a developer, there’s a lot of things, competing for every penny in a business. When you, when you get to that CEO level where you’re, you know, are we going to spend money on improving our test strategy? Are we going to spend money on improving our software development process?

Are we going to buy this tool? Have you found that shift in terms of, or even just the perspective that you, that you didn’t have, you know, 10 years ago?

Kelvin: Yeah, I mean, I did. So I was, I did head up the R& D department for, for a number of years. And obviously my focus then was on roadmap and technology and making sure that we’re doing cool stuff all the time.

We always, always talking about the right things and, and, and making sure we were talking to the customer about those right things. And wanting all the budget to talk about all those right things at the time. yeah, moving into CEO at the start of, the year. again, it’s sort of, it’s been a real learning experience.

It’s really sort of opened my eyes to some of the challenges of, of other people. Of some of the other departments. I always had a good understanding of, where development was involved. So professional services and all the configuration side of things, and managed service and understanding how the customers were using it and could understand where budget might be needed there.

But from a, a sales marketing and some of the other areas of the business, again, it’s, it’s, it’s completely fresh and new and I’ve had lots of. conversations where I’ve been asking lots of probably silly questions to better understand the what’s and why’s regarding that.

Matt: That’s an interesting one because I mean when I’ve changed jobs and changed organization you’ve got a period, in many cases which I’ve strung out probably far too long, but where you’ve got kind of a license to be able to Ask silly questions because you’re naive to the organization.

That’s slightly different when you’ve been there for so long and covered off so many different parts of it. That must have been quite challenging for you actually being able to be, needing to ask for clarification on things where maybe, I don’t know, did you think that you knew everything around it before you went into the role?

Kelvin: Did I think I knew everything? There’s a saying in there about the more you know. The more you need to know or something along those lines, but that’s certainly, certainly been the case as I found out more, the more I’ve realized I don’t know stuff, but at the same time, I mean, it’s something that I always sort of try and.

Drive into, uh, into the guys that are working for, for us is to be curious and don’t be afraid to ask questions because if you’re going to understand and if you’re going to understand it and make your own suggestions off the back of it, then you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. That’s, that’s where you, you are going to, grow professionally and personally, I think.

Matt: Are there any parts of the, the organization or are there parts of your experience and before that you are finding difficult to let go of in? Your new role?

Kelvin: yeah, . So r and d again, I, I owned that department for, for many years. again, always drove the roadmap, all the processes, around, uh, continuing integration and continual, deployment and all that sort of stuff, and wanting to be very agile and fresh and, and modern all the time.

And I still, I still like that feeling of creating something and releasing something and having, having people use it and knowing how many people are using it and seeing all the stats around how they’ve been using it. so I can still see all that information, but I don’t get, I don’t necessarily get the same level of achievement because ultimately it’s not been me writing or controlling.

I think controlling is probably the wrong word, but it’s not been me writing and releasing that code, which, which is making the difference.

Chris: I don’t know that. I think, I think that’s a perfectly reasonable thing to go from the kind of role you’ve done to, to be the CEO. There’s a, sometimes it, it, it feels like in order to be the CEO, you have to essentially, especially in a business that you’ve been in for a while, that you have to do what the last person did, which Is never the way to do it because that last person had their own strengths and their own background.

And I think in a technology company, it’s really, it can be really helpful for the person who see a CEO to be kind of still have a sense of ownership of the, of the, of the technology up to a point. mean, you can get all, we get a bit Elon Musk on it and a bit, , where they think they know what’s going on, but obviously don’t.

but. Yeah, I mean I think that’s a, it’s a perfectly reasonable position to be in, to say actually this is, this is the way I do it, this is the way it’s going, it’s going to be. You just have to be, as you, you know, as you say, you know, you can, if you just, loom over everything with a shadow that, means that nobody else can, can do their thing, then that’s where it becomes , a bit more negative.

Kelvin: Yeah, I mean, that’s certainly been one of the learnings, I think, is staying out of the weeds, as it were, letting people get on with it, allowing them to have the level of accountability without poking my nose in too often and too far, as it were.

Matt: So, with that incredible sort of… Traversing of the organization that you’ve done over the last 20 something years

Where does that make you? Where does that put you now in terms of your thoughts about how you bring new people into the industry and into your organization as well? And although the you know, the market is both Chris and I know from our own Roles the market is slow in many ways at the moment, but to find good talent to come into organizations people with good skills experience and The The curiosity, I think, actually, more than anything else, to get those people in is as hard as it ever has been.

So, where, where, where are you now, in terms of what, how, both how you want to go about it, but also kind of, I guess, what, what’s the division you want to paint for people who might want to come into the, the IT and particularly the telecoms industry? So,

Kelvin: I mean, we’re still pushing an apprentice graduate scheme and placement scheme.

So we’re dealing with undergraduates and graduates as well as having apprentices being on boarded. we, uh, we, we line up with the, uh, the calendar year, I suppose, from, from a university perspective and bring on. look to bring on for at least four, new graduates every year. And that, that way we have, a rolling, sausage factory.

It’s probably completely the wrong terminology for it.

But we always have, new graduates coming on. And again, we’re, we’re still doing the. The sponsorship piece, so they come in, we train them up, we take them through internal training programs, mentorships, get them writing code, quickly. I mean, 1 of the things we try to do is get them doing a change and get that released to 1 of our user acceptance environments within their, within their 1st day, and make sure that we’ve got the facilities and tooling to, to enable that.

But we, we take them all through all the training again at the end of the year. we offer them the sponsorship and if, if they want it, great. They go back to university for their final year and then they join us at the end of that. and if they don’t want it, then, we find out why. If there’s something that wasn’t quite right for the year, or whether they’ve got, they’ve changed their mind on telecoms, which can sometimes happen and technology, and they’re looking at something else, but that has over, well, 23 years for me, but over the last 23 years, we’ve put 100, 100 or so people through this, this scheme, I think about 20, 22 percent of the organization currently have come in via that, via that means, The retention rate is being is being fantastic.

so we’ve got great, great staff retention because people come in, they know what they’re they’re going to get. They, Even with the stuff that’s been happening with COVID and the change to the hybrid working and stuff like that, we’ve, we’ve maintained what, what our retention rate was before. and yeah, I mean, all over the organization, our head of R& D now, again, came out of Oxford, I think, as a placement, one of the guys heading up the managed service team, also.

Came through the placement program. We’ve got a couple of very good BAs and solution designers that again have spent years, looking at the different customers that we’ve dealt with to understand the industry and be able to add extremely. good consultancy to any new customers, who also came through that, through that scheme.

so again, I mean, that’s, that’s kept working for us. Um, obviously there’s times where we need to employ more experience. and, that’s been more challenging than I think the actual, continual integration of, of graduates as it were.

Chris: That’s really interesting because I certainly in. In the organizations that I’ve known and worked with at the moment and people I know.

They’ve either, they’ve let graduates or apprentices go because almost they’ve had to concentrate solely on, on getting the business done and their experienced people haven’t got the time to spend with the graduates. which is like, this is, it’s a terrible position for to be in, to have to let an apprentice go or something, you know, halfway through their, their, their course.

And so how do you think that that’s, how do you think you’ve achieved that in terms of being able to allocate enough time to, to graduates coming through? I mean, some of whom, you know, have obviously coded, but, but it was different between, you know, writing code in a, in a academic setting and, and committing something to production in a, in a business that’s going to be used.

How do you, how do you think you’ve managed that to the point where it’s actually easier than hiring from the market generally?

Kelvin: Continually learning. I suppose we’ve got lots of documentation about our processes and those processes are there to help people develop and ensure that the right thing is being committed to our code repositories. So when people are sort of fresh in, there is some level of pair programming happening initially, but you know, All the code is going through code review anyway.

So if if 1 of the grads is writing something, it will go into code review. 1 of the more senior developers, or not another developer will review that code, validate it’s doing what the ticket says it should be doing or whatever the feature is being asked for is, and if it’s if it’s not If it’s not ticking the right boxes from our definition of done, it’s sent back with what needs to happen in order to get a commit.

So having that feedback loop, again, is quite a nice way of, of. People learning more. So again, initially they, that, that piece of code might go back three or four times whilst they’re learning, the notation and the best way of doing it. And the fact that they need to write unit tests and they all need to pass and all that sort of stuff.

Whereas weeks later. They know everything that needs to be done in order to, to get it committed. It’s going through the code review process very quickly. And once, once you’re there again, you’ve got the foundations to be able to move on to more complex data structures and, and development activity. I think we’ve, I mean, the R& D piece and bringing people in as programmers is where it’s certainly where we’ve had the most success that’s given people the foundations are supposed to move around the rest of the business because they’ve learned the right processes in that area.

They’ve learned a bit about telecoms, and then they’ve been able to potentially move into a BA role or a managed service role or Sales role or whatever and use the experience from that first month or more To add value in those other roles as well.

Matt: It’s really interesting because you’re a relatively small organization in you know the hierarchy of software organizations and If you’re small and if you don’t have a brand, it’s really hard to be able to get people to be able to come to you. And it’s interesting you’re saying about finding actually a later stage career recruitment harder.

It doesn’t, you know, that, that that’s, that’s one of the challenges for people who are running, you know, working with in a smaller space. But it’s a really interesting thing to be doing this kind of apprenticeship work at a sustain the business scale and it almost being an intrinsic part of your, your model.

When you do have people coming in from outside later on, it is one thing to find them. Is it?

I got so many people having come up through the ranks, it sometimes can get a little bit culty or family ish in, in, in weird ways. You know what I mean? It’s like, this is the way that it is here. Have you found it hard to get people to be able to join at later stages of career because of that kind of DNA that’s coming up through, through graduates?

Kelvin: I don’t think so. I mean, we’ve still got, I’ve said, 22 percent of… Of people who’ve come in through that channel, so we’ve still got a lot of people that haven’t come in through that channel, who we’ve recruited, more naturally, I suppose, um. So, no, I don’t, I mean, I don’t think we, we’ve got that. I mean, LifeCycle is a real family friendly type organization.

We, we, we’ve got our set of core values that we all, drive towards. we have, The right sort of sessions ongoing, between the teams. So daily stand ups as an organization, we’re having monthly all hands to make sure that everybody’s on the same, same page to look at where we’re going as an organization, as well as where we, where we’ve just been and what lessons we should have learned from all of that.

mean, I think we’ve got the right sort of balance. well I hope we have.

Matt: And for thinking with the, apprentices and the graduates, are they themselves generally, have they come from that background or have you got them mixed in? What are the sorts of skills that you’re looking for to become a pair or a mentor for somebody coming up?

Kelvin: I said about people wanting to be curious and asking the right sort of questions. we’ve, we’ve got lots of people that want to help other people to learn. They like having people ask those sort of questions. I mean, internally, we’ve got our own sort of talent management to , help people move up through our own sort of career architecture.

and mentoring and, and helping, helping. people to potentially succeed them in in their current role is is part of it’s part of all that.

Chris: Are you expecting to grow more?

You know, are you expecting to have any significant growth or are you, are you, are you, you see this MBNO thing, that’s a potential kind of market and revenue stream, which is outside your existing market, I guess. So, are those areas you’re looking to grow a business into? So, away from the core in that sense.

Kelvin: I mean, so we’re, we’re very UK based currently, most of our MVMAs are based out of the UK, we have got some around Europe, but one of my focal points this year is to be, or to try and help us internationalize, so we built out our, our sales team to, to be asking the right, right sort of questions in different geographical regions to try and push our solutions.

Into those regions. So, like, I mean, going back to us wanting to allow anyone to be an MP. And now we’re managing that in the UK currently, but there should be nothing stopping us managing in Europe or America or Australia or or. South Africa or or other regions like that. And that’s where I’m sort of trying to push us.

, and from a company growth that should come should we get those opportunities because if we move into those regions, we will certainly need to look at, building out teams in those regions to support that. And I’d love to use the same model in those regions as well. I mean, we have some, some guys run out of Portugal.

and we do something similar with, with a graduate scheme there as well. So we know it works. so if we, if we can penetrate those, those other areas, then there’s nothing stopping us just keeping the sausage factory going.

Matt: Thank you very much coming on the show this week, Kelvin. fascinating story in many ways. how is your week ahead looking

Kelvin: bit more exciting than last week. we’ve, we’ve got some more customer meetings, which are extremely exciting. so I’m in London for the next couple of days. and I’m off to Portugal, the weekend, Lisbon for another customer visit, and then we’ve also got, a charity quiz that we’re running as a company.

So, we are doing a charity quiz for, for Newbury Soup Kitchen to, uh, then, raise some money. ,

Matt: thank you. Uh, Mr. Weston, week ahead.

Chris: Well, I’m not coming to London this week. No, I’m, staying in the Midlands because Oh yeah. I’ve got, I’ve got stuff to do.

And also to be fair, if I was to try to come to London, I’d get hampered by the, pa of state of the railways. I think there’s some overtime ban or something

Matt: going on, and yeah. Strikes on Wednesday as well,

Chris: in the middle of London, I think this week. So I’ve decided to, discretion is a better, better part of valor.

And I’m, I’m staying up here, sequestered the way in the Midlands. I’ve got a lot of things going on. I’ve got some nice meetings with people I’ve not seen for a while. I’ve got a meeting about a company that deals in OS, Oh, do you know this OSINT stuff? This Open Source Intelligence? yeah, got a meeting with a company that deals in that.

see what we can do with those guys. it’s going to be, it’s going to be a busy week. but all I can say is, you know. Let’s get through it because it’s, last week was uh, last week was tiring and I’m, I’m hoping to get through this week unscathed and well. How about you?

Matt: I have a sort of sense of normality having had the, uh, the long period of, everybody being in offsite things in various places across the country.

So it’s back to that thing, you know, that I go on a once in a while about how I’ve got some statements of work to write. I’ve got some statements of work to write. Oh yes. Woohoo. that’s, that’s great. I have got some work with a couple of colleagues looking at, we’re trying to be able to create , a little.

simple checklist tool for being able to work out the state of a particular client engagement at any point. Sort of like those sorts of things you get with , I don’t know, project checklists and that kind of stuff. For just to, you know, how is it at the moment? Is it good? Is it bad? Are there areas you need to dig into or not?

So that’s going to be quite interesting, trying to be able to distill everybody’s ideas into something that is simple. And useful and also doesn’t get mistaken as being some sort of management reporting, which is where this kind of technique often fails because everybody then doesn’t do it because they think it’s management reporting.

So that’s going to be part of what I do. Other than that, , yeah, uh, I it Christmas yet? There have been mince pies bought in my house already. There’s been discussions about the Christmas party. It’s that sort of time of the year, isn’t it? You get into October and everybody’s mind immediately goes to, , the end of the year.

It’s a weird thing, it’s the way it is. Anyway, , thank you very much again, Kelvin, for joining us. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Kelvin: Thank you Uh, 86 days till Christmas. Oh, thank you. See,

Matt: 86, 86, and take a few for shopping days. and, Chris, you and I will be back maybe not Monday next week for recording, maybe a different day next week, I’m not sure.

Or maybe not next week at all. Or maybe not next week at all. These things are very fluid, aren’t they? They are. So we might not be here next week, but we will definitely be here the week after. We’ve got some interesting new guests lined up. We’re I was actually having some conversations today about a show about culture, as requested by Mr.

Chris King. I have found the person to be able to guide us through that thorny topic. And so we’ll be looking to be able to schedule that in the next few weeks, amongst other things. So, that’s it for this week. We might not be here next week, but we will be back the week after. And so until then, goodbye.

Kelvin: Thank you for listening to WB 40. You can find us on the internet at wb40podcast.com, on Twitter @WB40Podcast, and an all good podcasting platform.

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