By Eric Rugundu
I have a secret to tell you.
Even though I’d been through 3 rounds of interviews, on my first day at Cundall I still wasn’t entirely sure what this firm does.
The last two months haven’t been the complete culture shock that I expected. My career had previously been ensconced in the business development and marketing departments of various law firms (Freshfields, Eversheds and most recently Nabarro) so I expected a learning curve when I joined Cundall. What has struck me most, and I believe what separates Cundall from other firms, is the collaborative culture of our various teams. As simple as it may sound, this is not commonplace in the businesses I’ve worked for.
As I’m quickly acclimatising to the people around me, I thought this would be a good opportunity to share with you my top three observations that differentiate us from the other organisations I’ve worked for.
- Now that I’ve told you my secret, I still can’t help but wonder why it’s so difficult for the uninitiated to understand what Cundall does as a business. This firm has been responsible for some great projects, so why isn’t this common knowledge outside of our organisation? One possibility is the challenge of seeing the trees for the forest – identifying our outstanding projects from the more formulaic. Within every sector we have done so many projects that it’s not always clear what our USP (unique selling point) is on our most successful and boast worthy projects. The engineers may know, but it’s not always obvious to the rest of the industry when specific challenges have been overcome using innovative approaches which set Cundall apart from other engineering firms. If we were to identify and verbalise the additional value added to these projects, it would allow us to talk about our unique capabilities in bids and when describing Cundall. Instead of just saying “we worked on X project”, we could and should add “we worked on X project and what made that one special was ABC”. It’s the ABC that would identify Cundall.
- Cundall’s business is built almost entirely on existing relationships and repeat work from people we know. For this reason, our clients should be easy to quantify and categorise, giving us a clear understanding of who we know, and therefore who we don’t but should know. This, for me as a business developer, is an imperative exercise for any international organisation that will create opportunities by allowing us to strategically target clients that we regularly service in certain countries but not in others. In addition, having a better understanding of our existing client base will allow us to cross-sell more diverse disciplines to existing clients by talking about our USPs. Surprisingly, we are not in a position to identify all of, for example, the property developers we know in a given sector. If we could solve this issue, we would be able to develop strategies for deepening the relationships that have served us so well. I’m hoping that the CRM project I am currently working on will consolidate our contacts and give us a level of visibility that will allow us to strategically grow the business.
- When you work at a company for any significant amount of time, it’s easy to take for granted the little things that can make your day. Some things I’ve experienced in the last two months that immediately spring to mind include: Steve Cook doing an ice lolly run on a couple of scorching hot summer days, a superb golf day convincingly won by Carole O’Neill, Tomás Neeson joining the Marketing Team for dinner when his planned meeting got cancelled, the arcade filled boardroom at the London office summer BBQ, the friendly banter between table tennis matches in the office ladder, my uncanny ability to always arrive at the pub for Friday drinks when a partner is buying a round… The common thread here speaks to my first point – the collegial nature of life at Cundall. Corny as it may sound, the simple fact that we like spending time with each other socially brings us closer together as colleagues and makes it easier for us to operate as a business. This isn’t a culture that you can buy or train – it happens naturally and the value is immeasurable. As a new starter, I recognise and am grateful for the gregarious nature of my colleagues.
I hope some of the above has struck a chord with you and will spark some meaningful conversations. If anyone is interested in responding, I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts on these observations.
Find out more about Cundall – http://www.cundall.com/