It’s often forgotten that business is a creative pursuit. Every business, be it a technology giant such as Microsoft, or a tiny corner store serving one community, stems from a single idea. An idea that’s born from creative intent, but can be lost in deadlines, bottom lines and lines of business. Success today is still defined by return on investment (ROI) and numbers, but it’s strengthened by the organisation’s ability to build a culture of creativity. In the era of the always on business, customer and employee, this is as invaluable as ROI.
This ethos has driven the rapid growth and expansion of Skynamo, a South Africa original organisation. Founded by Sam Clarke in 2012, the organisation now has a presence on four continents and in five countries, from New Dehli to South Africa to Columbus, Ohio with support teams that run 24/7. The goal of building a company at scale, globally, with offices in multiple locations with cross-functional teams has already delivered with a percentage increase in employee numbers 2020 of 66%.
“We grew from a company of 60 people to 100 in 2020, which was quite an exceptional increase for one year,” says Clarke, Chief Executive Officer of Skynamo. “We aren’t looking at doing that again – we’ve stabilised now, and are continuing to increase our capacity and growth at 10% year on year. This consistent growth has required that we focus on building a robust culture that’s embedded across every office, branch and silo.”
The core that Skynamo gets right is recruitment. This is the key to ensuring that the organisation catches the attention of the right talent, and that this attention is tightly held over the long term. One of the biggest challenges facing global organisations today is the lack of skills and talent diversity, which makes recruitment and talent management absolutely critical to ensuring business success. High turnovers, toxic environments, challenging workplace cultures tend to overflow into the public domain and have long-term negative impacts on reputation and organisation. To resolve this, companies have to get the core right.
“There’s an energy that comes from people working on projects they care about in environments that care about them,” says Clarke. “An energy that’s reflected in quality of product and service, and in a culture that’s capable of adapting to change and uncertainty. Elastic, capable and relevant companies are those that do more than just invest into process, talent and technology. They focus on the core creativity that each skilled person brings to the company.”
Clarke believes that the energy that drives projects and the passion that defines people who are passionate about those projects are two qualities that need to be replicated in the working environment. This has led to a recruitment drive that focuses on hiring people that share company chemistry right from the outset. They need to be capable of working autonomously and delivering to KPIs and creating outcomes without being handheld through the working day. They also need to understand that the customer sits at the heart of the business. Here, every employee spends time at the customer coalface so that they fully understand how their work impacts the business, and the people the business serves. Each employee is empowered to do this as a new starter as part of the company’s onboarding process is for employees to spend time taking customer support calls, for example.
“This ethos is embedded by a Chief People Officer, Sarah Rice, who does a deep dive chemistry check into a person’s values and their ability to fit within the culture of the company,” says Clarke. “The emphasis is on creating one team, globally. This isn’t one value set for one company in India, and another in the US – it’s shared teams, values and culture across every customer, partner and employee.”
The reality of 2020 has set in. The business shifts are being seen in 2021. Companies are no longer powered by shoulder pads and rage, as defined by the 80s and 90s. Today, business success is as visible in its bottom line as it is in its culture, creativity and recruitment retention.