This week we are taking a slight departure from 'founders' and meeting a senior executive within a fast growing SME. Our female inspiration for the week is Franca Rasmussen, Director of HR at PMGC. Hear about culture through the 'weightless office' and insights into growing a team.
What was your journey to PMGC?
My first role in HR was at JP Morgan following an initial career in recruitment. The corporate environment provided me with great experience and exposure in specialist areas but I was keen to develop in a more generalist capacity within HR. Whilst still at JP’s, we implemented an outsourcing strategy within Human Resources. My position was outsourced to an HR outsourcing organisation but still provided services to the JP Morgan. Not long after I was promoted to Managing Director responsible for providing overall operational delivery of HR Consultancy (including recruitment) mainly with in the financial sector (Deutsche Bank, CSFB, Nomura, ABN Amro) on a global basis. After nearly 10 years of performing this role I had a short career break to start a family but then went back in HR Consultancy which is where my relationship started with PMGC. I didn’t want to return to the corporate world but rather have a strategic HR role within a smaller organisation, which allowed me to wholly utilise my HR knowledge whilst being integral within the business strategy and transformation. PMGC has provided me with that challenge.
PMGC - The Story
Brief overview of PMGC?
PMGC aim to transform business performance by helping our customers embrace current and emerging technologies. We make businesses Weightless by giving them the freedom to work effectively and efficiently, both in, and out of the office. We provide Mobility consultation, software solutions and Managed Services.
How did PMGC begin?
In creating PMGC, the vision was to create a technology business that didn’t just create clever techy solutions. The plan was to create an organisation that changed the way we do things, that fundamentally challenged the norm and set about changing the way we live. At PMGC we live and breathe the solutions we provide to our customers. We are the guinea pig, before anything goes to market.
Originally founded in April 2012 through the acquisition of two leading UK mobile communications businesses, the company has experienced rapid growth, adding four further acquisitions, continuing to grow our customer base and adding key capabilities. All designed to help our customer’s change the way they work through the adoption and deployment of new technologies.
How did you grow the team at PMGC?
PMGC have evolved from a purely mobile sales business to a Managed Service, Systems Integrator and Technology Solutions business meaning that we have gone through an enormous transformation not only from a business perspective but from a people perspective too. You constantly hear the phrase “people are your biggest asset” and never a truer word has been spoken. Being a more consultative business means that we have had to up skill our current teams but have also had to attract different individuals in the market place. We are of course in a position to “sip our own champagne” by fully utilising our “weightless” concept and empowering our people which has opened up a larger talent pool given that geographical location is no longer a consideration. We have approached this by using our core company values as the foundation to benchmark behaviours: Trust, Responsible, Collaborate, and Innovate. It is so important that everyone shares the common goals and share the same passion for the company, and this needs to start within the Leadership Team. That chemistry is key.
Tell me a bit about the “weightless office” concept.
We have created the Weightless Office – a concept that enables people to work from anywhere utilising cloud based technologies to enable access to company systems from any connected device transforming the work-life balance of every member of the company.
As an example; I can login into SmartDesk knowing that the data is secure and that the privacy of our people is not compromised. Weightless working has provided our people with the choice and flexibility of working anywhere, at any time, on any device. We have seen a happier more motivated workforce with higher productivity as they feel more empowered to do their roles. Weightless working has also allowed us as employers to tap into a talent pool regardless of location or personal circumstance.
Achievements & Challenges
Personally, what was your biggest achievement to date?
Is saying having my family too much of a cliché? Well I make no apologies for that though. The even bigger achievement I would say is having a young family and juggling my role as Director of HR as part of Leadership Team. I won’t lie, it’s isn’t easy at times but the fact that I have the flexibility of where and how I work allows me to manage this constant and common dilemma.
Within your career and PMGC what has your biggest challenge been to date (and biggest challenge in the future)?
With a number of acquisitions under our belt over the last 18 months, it has presented its own challenges around the people and cultures of those companies merging into one. To be honest we are still on that journey and I think that we always will be. The transformation of PMGC within this time has been significant and being an integral part of that transformation has been a positive and exciting challenge.
Women in Business
How can we encourage more women into leadership roles?
Women still have a challenge to be able to attain promotion to place them into leadership roles. The common challenges that women have when even considering a leadership position (and not only women, I might add) include work/life balance, parenting, juggling responsibilities and multi-tasking. These were all considerations for me. As a mother of three young children under the age of 11, flexible working has been paramount for me. “Weightless Office” has been fundamental to that success. Whilst I am in the office most of the time, in the event I need to be around the kids, I know that I have the choice to work from home (or any location) and still be able to fully functional and productive. Women I think fear openly talking about the fact we have child care issues /consideration in case it’s seen as a weakness. By providing women with more flexibility on where and how they work will open up a talent pool to exceptional talent to enabling a far higher proportion to fulfil leadership roles without compromising other parts of their life, such as family. Women often bring a balance to an executive board from their different perspective based on a different set of life experiences. This can broaden and deepen the leadership team’s insight, making it far more effective.
Advice & Final Thoughts
What is your advice for people starting a business?
The secret ingredient is trust – it is all about your people. You must trust the people that you employ. If you don’t, then why employ them in the first place? Once you trust them, then you must enable and empower them to be the best versions of themselves and equip them with the tools to do so.
What is your vision for the future?
Weightless working will become the norm and working will become something you do, not somewhere you go - it's getting there but too many businesses are slow to embrace this, largely because they are restricted by their historical or disparate technology. Eventually there will be no more 9-5, no more office based working, no more ties to a singular location.
The UK is famous for its entrepreneurial spirit and many of our customers have grasped these new ways of working already. Seeing businesses deploy our new solutions and grow is hugely satisfying for us all at PMGC. We hope to continue to be at the forefront of this transformational change and continue to help small to medium size business embrace this more efficient way off working.