Departing Kura – announcing my departure following a brief, but challenging and rewarding stay.
It’s a good indication of how busy the last 10 months have been, when the follow-up entry to my post about joining KURA, is a post announcing my departure.
I did find a draft blog post, dating back to August, which obviously lay incomplete and was never published. It is clear that I intended to comment on both the similarities and differences between life at Kura and life at Webhelp.
Although my stay at Kura was brief, it was both challenging and rewarding in equal measure! My only disappointment is that I did not have the opportunity to meet, and work with, my Kura colleagues in person. That said, I think that we all made the most of the situation, and the strength of the connections we made are testament to this. It is therefore fitting that I use my favourite ‘video call background image’ as the cover picture for this post!
I wish the Kura team all the very best of luck for the future and I look forward to reading about their continued success.
I’m delighted to finally reveal some details about my new role. I’ve joined KURA, the UK’s largest independent outsourcer, as Head of Data.
I’m delighted to finally reveal some details about my new role.
Welcome to KURA! That’s been the overwhelming message today, the 1st March 2021, and also my first day as the new Head of Data, at KURA (CS) Ltd. But, to be honest, I didn’t expect anything less! From our opening conversations, I felt that there was a connection, and today has proven that feeling to be correct.
KURA is the largest independent outsourcer in the UK, providing outsourced contact centre services and software solutions for a number of the world’s most successful brands. I’ll add my industry and data-driven product experience to the existing team, and I can’t wait to see what we can create together!
Thank you to Rhianna, Oonagh, Julie and Brian for giving me the opportunity to join the organisation.
Finally, thanks to Dave for the warm welcome this Monday morning – I hope the rest of our induction group enjoyed the remainder of their Day 1 as much as I did!
It is a new beginning and there are definitely exciting times ahead.
Gary Simpson at Change Recruitment has been a pleasure to work with from the beginning. His input has been key to Making the Transition.
Finding a new role at the best of times can be a daunting propostion for many people – myself included. I was certainly out of practice. Add the current restrictions into the mix and I had no idea what to expect. I prepared as diligently as I could, tapping into a mix of personal and recruitment contacts for advice, sourcing online learning I thought might be relevant and good old-fashioned general research.
A public nod and wave of thanks to everyone who supported me during this period – you already all know the value I took from your words of encouragement. This post, however, is to recognise the contribution of one individual.
Gary Simpson at Change Recruitment has been a pleasure to work with from the beginning. We spoke, messaged and exchanged emails on a regular basis throughout the process. Gary suggested updates to my CV, advised me on the recruitment steps involved, supported my preparation and generally kept me well informed. More than that, he made me feel like I was in good hands. His input has been key to making the transition.
Thank you, Gary!
Now, I’m off to attend my first meeting with some of my new colleagues at…
Time to Say Goodbye to my Webhelp family – a short story.
After 6,426 days (or 17 years and 7 months, if you prefer) the time has come for me to say a public goodbye to my Webhelp family. We said our private goodbyes on an emotional call yesterday evening, so I feel that I can share this news with a wider audience now.
Derek Anderson kicked off the call by welcoming everyone and immediately launched into a funny, insightful and touching tribute, which made me sound far more interesting than I deserve! I’ve worked with Derek for a number of years, and as my Line Manager for the last couple, he has provided challenge, encouragement and support in equal measure. Thanks for everything, Derek!
As tradition demands, I said my piece – more of which shortly – then sat back and listened intently to the comments, stories, musings and banter offered by my colleagues by way of a send off. Despite the lack of cake, drinks, hugs, handshakes and pats on the back, under the circumstances, it was the perfect way to bring the curtain down.
How did I reflect on my Webhelp journey?
I recalled the technical challenges, the dynamic environment, the daily learnings, the friendships forged in adversity, the Webhelp family and cameraderie (in and out of the office), and the opportunities for travel. A heady cocktail indeed.
I’ll sign off officially at midnight on Sunday 28th February with no regrets and nothing but happy memories.
2020 is Looking Bright, with a new product launched and a new Qlik Luminary award received. #Qlik #QlikLuminary #WeAreWebhelp #WebhelpUK @ProductDev_WUK
Whilst we are now in the last week of the (traditionally loooong!) month of January, 2020 is already off to a cracking start! We’ve hit the ground running and the year ahead looks bright and promising.
New Year, New Product
On January 7th, we launched our new product into the business, supporting schedule-driven pay for several thousand of our front-line colleagues. This new process, and associated visual products, allowed us to remove our legacy manual timesheets processes, and enables our colleagues to picture their pay before payroll processing begins.
We deliver these visualisations using #Qlik technology – naturally! You can read more about the My Pay product at my #QlikGallery post on #QlikCommunity:
Last Monday, Qlik announced the Qlik Luminary Class of 2020 – the best and brightest in the Qlik ecosystem. I’ve been unashamedly vocal and supportive of this program since my first award in 2017. I’ve made more contacts, enjoyed more events, shared more calls, briefings, meetups and learning experiences year on year since then, than in all the years gone by! You can expect my enthusiasm to burn brightly throughout 2020 as I celebrate my FOURTH award!
Thanks again to everyone at Qlik for the ongoing recognition, to Differentia Consulting for the ongoing support, and to my #QlikLuminary friends for being such an amazing group of people!
Please do read more about the program here, and Meet the Class of 2020:
The weeks after the annual Qlik Luminary Meetup are always hectic – perhaps even more hectic than the week of the Meetup itself! I’ll explain why later, but I’ll start by looking back to the biggest, and arguably best, Luminary Meetup so far.
Luminary Meetup 2019
The Luminary Meetup in 2019 boasted the longest list of attendees – with around 40 of the 120 or so Luminaries making the pilgrimage to Lund, Sweden, late in October. The Meetup is a must-attend, Luminary-only event – but this is only one of the attributes which make it special.
Adding the Qlik personnel involved – including those responsible for the Luminary Program – this might feel like a big group. Not a bit of it – it feels more like a family. As a three-time Luminary, I look forward equally to both catching up with old friends and meeting the new Class. There is also usually a little disappointment when we learn who is missing.
The Meetup itself is a short, sharp, action-packed couple of days worth of sharing and challenging in equal measure, between Qlik and the Luminaries. Just like any family, the debate is lively!
This family Meetup was bittersweet in one respect, however. We learned that Viktoria Lindback, a Senior Manager at Qlik, and one of the torchbearers of the Luminary Program, would be leaving Qlik to pursue an MBA. At least we were able to give her a fitting send off, with our warmest wishes for the future!
Luminary Program 2020
Applications are now open for the 2020 Program, and these must be submitted by the end of November. So why would you want to apply? Personally speaking, I gain most from just ‘talking Qlik’ with like-minded individuals – listening to others experiences and sharing our own stories generates so many ideas that we can discuss within our team. In addition to the Meetup, there are other virtual Luminary-only events held throughout the year, giving more opportunities for the exchange of knowledge.
I also admit to enjoying the recognition that the Qlik Luminary status brings. Whether at physical events, or online, the staus is recognised by Qlik, Partners and other Customers and this means that it is a pleasure to wear the badge.
You should read the reference material, search online for #QlikLuminary and then come join our family!
Formerly known as Qonnections, this is another must-attend annual event – but the first big difference between this event and the Luminary Meetup is that QlikWorld is public. The second big difference, as you can probably guess, is the scale. With more than 3,000 delegates, QlikWorld consumes a large conference centre for its duration – actually for the whole week, as delegates arrive the weekend before, and sometimes stay on afterwards.
However, despite their differences, these events do also have many things in common. Foremost here is the enthusiasm and passion for the Qlik ecosystem – and the sharing of these emotions is infectious. Like the Meetup, the QlikWorld environment encourages the exchange of ideas – there are hundreds of Breakout Sessions, hosted by Qlik, Partners and Customers, covering the Qlik platform from end-to-end, from all angles.
Hosting a Breakout Session is a real privilege – to be able to share your journey, experience and knowledge with others is very special.
QlikWorld hits Phoenix, Arizona in May 2020 – just be there!
To finish, back to what makes the weeks after the Luminary Meetup so busy…
It comes down to both looking back and looking forwards.
Looking back, catching up on what you missed after being out of the office; then making sense of what you’ve learned at the Meetup and working out how you are going to write it up, and weave it into your day job.
Looking forwards, preparing your Luminary Program application; then constructing a story which will be interesting for the audience and working out how you are going to write it up, and weave it into your QlikWorld Breakout Session submission.
The good news is, as of now, I’m offically looking forwards!
In developing the previous iterations of our products, we had taken a much more structured approach to managing the user experience. This was driven by our Product Manager at the time, who immersed himself in the subject, and created a simple, but powerful, framework which we could share and use within the team.
This approach was so successful that we felt that we felt it would be valuable for the new Product Development team to develop a better understanding as a group.
To achieve this, we turned to a local provider of digital skills training, CodeClan. I met the CodeClan team at the New Start Scotland Expo 2018 event in Glasgow, back in November 2018. Their short course on UX Design Fundamentals felt like a perfect fit for us, and we subsequently enrolled in the next scheduled session. This took place in Edinburgh in February, and the early signs are that this will prove to be a successful move!
The course was delivered by Wojtek Kutyla, an experienced UX practitioner, whose engaging and inclusive style soon had the entire group participating! We covered lots of interesting ground over the 3 days, and I certainly feel better-equipped to deal with the UX challenges we’ll face as we continue our product development journey. This starts as early as next week as we look to recruit a Lead Product Designer to take hands-on ownership of UX/UI Design for our team!
For the moment, I can certainly recommend both CodeClan and Wojtek to anyone looking to upskill either themselves or their team.
My thoughts on the recent #LuminaryMeetup at #Qlik HQ, our subsequent #UserDiscovery session back at #WebhelpUK, the #QlikLuminary program and the #QlikCommunity re-launch!
Qlik Luminary Meetup
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – the #QlikLuminary group is an amazing group of people, and it’s a privilege to be in their company. The majority of the time, with a few notable exceptions (including, but not limited to, #Qonnections and #QlikDevGroup meetings) the company is virtual, of course. However, the annual #LuminaryMeetup in Lund changes that significantly – for a couple of days, and nights, many of us are together – and we are together with Qlik. We’ve joked previously about the collective noun for Luminaries, but it now seems sensible to go with ‘bundle’, given the content of the Qlik Sense November 2018 release! This year, the bundle reached 30! It is a full-on couple of days, brimming with content, debate and forthright discussion. There is something to be taken from every session, every topic and every interaction. I enjoyed this year’s Meetup immensely! There is an excellent write-up of some of the details – with more pictures! – on the Qlik Blog.
During Day 2 of the #LuminaryMeetup, we took part in a user discovery workshop session with Qlik Research & Usability team members. In addition to the experience of simply being able to collaborate with fellow Luminaries and Qlik colleagues, we took some genuine inspiration from this session back to our own ‘Discovery Lab’ in Falkirk, Scotland. The GCS Product Development team’s latest product will make our workforce scheduling, incentive scheme and payroll processing data visible to each individual advisor and team leader. We felt that getting a deep understanding of how this population would consume, understand and navigate this data would be crucial to the product’s success. We also thought that an interactive session would help us to better gauge the level of awareness – actually, the Data Literacy – of this audience, specifically with respect to this data and the relevant business processes. Long story short – it was a great success! We had four highly engaged and enthusiastic, cross-departmental groups who came up with some excellent suggestions, commentary and even designs! Afterwards, one delegate told me, “It was exciting. I’m excited. I can’t wait to see what the final product will look like!”. “Me too!”, I grinned from ear to ear, “Me too!”.
Becoming a Qlik Luminary
So, why should you apply to be a Qlik Luminary?
Qlik’s own introduction at Qlik Luminary Program gives a collection of Luminary benefits and characteristics – it also contains links to the current Qlik Luminary Class of 2018, and to the 2019 Qlik Luminary Application Form.
However, if you’ve read this far – or if, you’ve read any of my earlier blogs, including my recent series on Qonnections 2018 – then hopefully you’ve got a flavour of the personal and professional positives I’ve taken from a range of fantastic experiences over the last two years.
But don’t just take my word for it: look through Qlik Community (newly relaunched this week, looking and feeling better than ever, by the way!) and review the quality and volume of content authored by this group; or search for #QlikLuminary on Twitter to find help, snippets and signposts to all kinds of useful resources.
Then, ask yourself, “Why would I NOT want to be part of the Qlik Luminary Program?”. Whatever you decide, don’t hang about – applications close on 30th November 2018.
Details of an upcoming Qlik webinar, which airs on 25th July, with a link to registration.
@Qlik #QlikLuminary @GCSToolkitTeam @WebhelpUK
One of the many, very cool things about the #Qlik community and the #QlikLuminary programme are the opportunities to get involved in activities which would normally be outside your day-to-day role. I’ve been very fortunate to have taken part in several such activities, which I’ve enjoyed immensely and have also stretched me – in a positive way!
The latest example is the upcoming webinar on the subject of Digital and Data-Driven Transformation. This event is a panel discussion on a range of topics from data literacy, to data usage and collaboration. It is part of a series which I’d thoroughly recommend to all.
The webinar airs on Wednesday 25th July at 10:00 BST.
Part 4 of a 4-part series of posts on Qlik’s Qonnections 2018 Worldwide User Conference.
And finally, I thought it would be fitting to make a list of the people who helped to make Qonnections 2018 memorable for me, and say a few words about why that was the case. However, it became such a long list, that I quickly ditched the ‘why’ part – suffice to say, if you made my list, you made my visit! As always, there are few exceptions of note, the reasons for which I will make perfectly obvious! This list contains all kinds of people – friends, analysts, Qlik employees, partners, customers, sponsors, exhibitors, Qlik Luminaries and more. For me, it simply confirms the breadth, depth and quality of the community, that I was able to interact with so many people in such a short space of time.
Thank you all – it would not have been the same without you!
Now to the exceptions, those who deserve a special mention…
Firstly, thanks to Jeannine Boot, Jonathan Goldberg, Jacob Cleveland, Nick Murdock, David Bolton and Robert Fleming for their involvement in the range of additional media activities I was a part of – it made for a busy few days, but I’d do it all again, in a heartbeat!
Secondly, thanks to Niall Gallacher for his hosting of both of our sessions, and for his ongoing support and encouragement, from one Qonnections to the next, and in between too. Let’s keep this up for next year!
Thank you also, to Gillian Farquhar and Viktoria Lindback for all you do throughout the year to make the Qlik Luminary programme so rewarding for us. You deserve a bigger thank you, for running the Fanatics Bar and taking excellent care of us at Qonnections. And, of course, a massive THANK YOU! not just from myself and the Toolkit Team, but from Steven Whyte and everyone else at Webhelp, for making Stephanie Crooks’ 30th Birthday so very memorable – during the Qlik Luminary event, no less! It was, quite literally, the cherry on the icing on the cake!
On that note, it is fitting that my final special thank you, is to my Buddy – Stephanie Crooks. Steph is an amazing teammate, a talented developer and a fellow Qlik Luminary. Her friendship, enthusiasm, sense of humour and willingness to get involved in all manner of Qonnections activities make her my perfect Buddy. This was our second Qonnections ‘together’, although we actually travelled separately on this occasion. I really hope that Steph will be up for making it ‘three in a row’ in Dallas, even if the slight change in dates means that she’ll already be 31!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my take on Qonnections 2018 – please do comment and let me know whether you found it interesting or even useful, and I look forward to seeing you in Dallas in 2019!