S8E18: Growing leadership across the organisation, with Stephen Foreshew-Cain (CEO, Scott Logic)

An episode of The Impact Multiplier CEO Podcast

S8E18: Growing leadership across the organisation, with Stephen Foreshew-Cain (CEO, Scott Logic)

Stephen Foreshew-Cain (CEO, Scott Logic, a leading IT services company) speaks with Xquadrant's Founder Richard Medcalf.

We are continuing our season "The CEO Learning Curve". Interesting and inspiring CEOs reflect on what got them the top job, what they've learned over the first few quarters in the role, and what lies ahead.

In this conversation, you’ll discover:

  • Why the biggest surprise that Stephen discovered was that he couldn't run the company!
  • The importance of understanding the Founder's story (and what to do with that)
  • The four focus areas that Stephen recommends any CEO to attend to
  • How to use 20% of your time in a way that makes the other 80% way more impactful

"How costly it is to fall into the habit of giving people orders."

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You can watch this episode and discover more videos on strategy, leadership and purpose over on the Xquadrant YouTube channel.

Transcript

Richard Medcalf
Hi Steve, and welcome to the show.

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
Thank you for having me. I'm actually really delighted to be here.

Richard Medcalf
Well, it's gonna be fun. We're gonna look at what I call the CEO learning curve, you joined Scott Logic, just a couple of years ago and it'd be really interesting, really interesting to look at, you know what you've learned about those first few months or quarters in the role? Before we go any further? Why don't you give us a summation? First of all, what is Scott Logic? And then we'll kind of go into your story from there.

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
Sure. So Scott Logic is a technology professional services firm. We essentially build custom or bespoke software solutions for our clients, introducing technical innovation into their organizations to help them solve some of their most complex, you know, challenges or potentially exploit new markets as well. Historically, the firm was founded about 16 years ago, I think we're into our 17th year actually, and very much focused on the financial services sector sector there had increasing regulation, competition, technical innovation, and so we focused on financial services. Over the last couple of years, we've expanded into the public sector as well, a passion of mine, which I'm sure we'll touch on. But yeah, a very successful company helping our clients solve some of their hardest and most complex technical challenges.

Richard Medcalf
Right, got it and just get to the scale, right? how big this company roughly?

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
Sure. So we're, we're, the number keeps changing. But, you know, we're about, you know, last year, we're over 14 million in terms of revenues, we're on track, definitely to increase that. This is significant double digit growth, over 400 employees, predominantly based in the United Kingdom, we also have a presence in Europe and we are looking to the future that perhaps will be serving, Unix, operating and markets globally but we certainly serve clients who are all over the world at the moment, as you can imagine, in the financial services sector, we have a number of North American clients as well as those based in London, across the continent as well.

Richard Medcalf
Perfect. So say it's really successful company and I know it's had a long, long history of success and there was another founder who created the company has been CEO before you wish you stepped into those, those shoes. So what's the story behind that? So tell us a bit about I think it's your first CEO role. So very successful founder of the Elves and he, besides that, Steve's the man for for for that for this role for the for the for the next for the next phase in the company. So tell us a bit about what's your background? And then what's the intersection, right, what was it about perhaps what you brought, that led to this next step?

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
Okay, so I hope this doesn't sound too much like canned content, because I've obviously meeting a lot of our clients and they want to know a little bit about who's who's this guy who's dipping up and potentially providing some critical services for them. So I'm Australian, British, I think I still put it that way around, I think 22 years, it's almost getting to the point where I might say British Australian.

Richard Medcalf
I have been 22 years in France at this point and I just like to say to people Yeah, if British people think I'm quite French these days, and French people still think I'm very, very British. So,

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
I because because I have a long long time ago background in theatre and in acting, I do have the ability to pick up accent so people sometimes can find it difficult to pitch where I'm from, but but definitely Australian British been here 22 years. I describe myself as a career consultant, you know, working in technology for the best part of the last 30 years. You know, the last 22 years predominantly in Technology Professional Services consulting here in the UK. I have been client side as well. I've done a number of executive roles in enterprise businesses like the co op group, which is a you know, a member owned, retail and group organization here in the UK when The largest actually, the groceries in the UK, convenience groceries, as well as I've worked in the public sector. So I did a stint leading the government digital service in the Cabinet Office, which is at the center of central government driving digital transformation across the central government and I think, you know, I think the reason I was attractive to Scott Logic and why Scott Logic was attractive to me is one, it starts with domain expertise. You know, I've worked in large consulting organizations, some of the biggest in the world. I've worked in small kind of technology, professional services opposition's worked at some in the middle. So I think step one was I have a toolkit, I know this business.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, let me jump in on that because I think it's interesting that large and small, I think it's often something which people don't always consider but I think it really creates a range, right? Yeah, the first company I worked for when I joined it, it was 80 people grew fast but it was several 100 people by the time I left and had a senior role in it and then I went into Cisco, which had, you know, in fact, 10s of 1000s of employees, right, and was, you know, fortune 50 company and everything else? And I think it does create a breadth of awareness and skills when you when you have that mix.

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
Absolutely. Absolutely and, you know, let's be clear. The reason I was I believe the reason I was born into Scott Logic is the company has grown. You know, over the last six years, obviously, one of the things I have been brought in to do is really thing, but how do we scale it? How do we do different, more better? How do we tap into the potential in the organization to do more with what we have, but also continue to grow and see greater return from what we have within the organization? And you can't, you know, I think one of the win again, tools in my toolkit is I've seen small organizations grow to mid and then large organizations, I've been in mid sized organizations and see them, you know, go through that maturing process and that's kind of teenage years and I've also been in large organizations, and I've can, I can see what's needed at scale, you know, we're talking hundreds of 1000s employees, but also some of the limitations and some of the, you know, the compromises you have to make when you're operating at scale and dealing with that level of complexity. So there was definitely something about domain expertise and the experience and breadth of experience in technology consulting, I do come from a delivery background. So I was I was a consultant for myself, running custom software delivery programs, as well as what I would call change programs, which were to enable organizations to understand modern engineering practices, technology delivery, competencies and capabilities, and how do you actually build them into your organization if they aren't actually native? So there's an element of I wouldn't call myself a management consultant in any stretch, but certainly in the domain of how do you introduce change, and particularly around ways of working behaviors and competencies into organizations? I think that's where the conversation started. Certainly, you know, I enjoy the process of growing an organization but seeing it realize its full potential. And so the hook for me in the first conversation was, here's a successful organization, it is growing. But wait, is there a real opportunity here for this to outperform? And that was certainly a big part of it. I think the other two, I think, but I think there's a table stakes. Like if you're gonna run a professional services consultant, you probably need to know how those sorts of things run. I think there were two other things that were the predominant part of the conversation and it was quite a lengthy process. As you can imagine, a founder owner is looking for his successor that's going to take some time you really...

Richard Medcalf
Who am I going to give the baby to right?

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
And so I think the other one that we tested in both directions, through our conversations with one another was cultural alignment. You know, is this person going to be the sort of leader that people will want to follow? I mean, we had long conversation, that I have a principle that actually successful leaders lead with the permission of the lead, that people are willing to give you the trust, and understand that where you want to go is a place that they want to follow you to or be a part of the journey towards. And so we spend a lot of time of like, what is the culture of Scott Logic? Why does why does this company exist? And why should I want to come and be a part of it? Why should it want me to be a part of it? Where people business, right, we don't, we have no other products, but the smart stuff that's in every consultants edits, it's got logic, we have a high bar, that the talent that we, you know, we invite to join us. And so, you know, caring about genuinely caring about those people, their aspirations, the work they do, understanding the challenges that they face, and making sure that they can do that and that they feel engaged in the conversation. about the sort of organization were being that was a big part of, you know, kind of the the original conversation and then I guess...

Richard Medcalf
Just jumping in on that, I think it's so interesting, right, this cultural alignment, because I just said, it might not be the first thing people might, they might go to the domain expertise, for example, or you know, I can You can do the job in that sense. But it's, it's fascinating, I was doing a call yesterday recording another episode, hopefully, the podcast, so you have to listen to it or with another leader who, and she said she, she was in the company. And there were two other people who were brought in as CEO when the founder moved on. They both lasted very, very short amounts of time, a matter of months in a matter of weeks. And she described it as organ rejection, that they had the CV, they had the expertise that previously had senior roles, they were seen as hot shots, they were seen as superstars. But they didn't have the cultural alignment. They didn't didn't work, it was they had everything on the paper. But in practice, they didn't have the fit. And so actually, taking somebody who had actually grown up with the organization was almost became almost the safe bet, because they knew already that cultural fit was there. So not saying you always have to recruit from within. And obviously, it shows that you don't, but making sure that you, you actually are set up to win by going into a culture which you resonate with.

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
I think it's a fine line. Because the other thing is you can get my optic, right, if we only ever hire people that look and sound like us, or think like us. And we call that cultural alignment, because they're going to fit in that sense that can actually drive you to to actually a constraint like so you've got to have this way, I think being able to connect with people that meaningfully connect with people at a very personal level, but also be able to recognize that, you know, I stepped into this organization, I was not breathing the same oxygen as everyone else yet. Now, I've normalized most likely like we all do. But being able to say, well, actually, let's think about some let's let's create environment, we can think about things differently. But that's safe for all of us. That say for me is the new guy, and that's safe for people and spent and we've got people who who, you know, with a 16, seven year they're right back at the start. In fact, we've got one of our senior leaders was in graduate who has grown his career through snow Thomas is extraordinary and fantastic. So how do you bring all of that together.

Richard Medcalf
And on this, this point about fitting in, I think one of the things that I have is around fitting in versus belonging. I was introduced this by my own, one of my own coaches and mentors, and I use it in my own group, I've just ran a new cohort of CEOs come into my CEO community, just this week, and we had our initial session, one of the things we talked about I talked about was you don't have to fit in to belong if it doesn't fit in, because you're going to bring each of your unique thing to this group. Right. And so fitting in is not what we're looking for. But you belong. Right. And, and I think there is this question, as you said, which is like, if everyone totally just fitted in, you're not going to have any of that fresh thinking fresh ways you don't want to say to fit in, but do you have enough in common that you can belong?

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
Right. I mean, there's a hackneyed kind of analogy. And I, I took that because one of the things I'm very passionate about, particularly Scott Logic, but we're broaden that is diversity and inclusion. And the last part of that is belonging, that you know, it's not it's not good enough to invite people to the party, and then have them stand on the sidelines. It's not good enough to invite people to party, and then say, Would you like to come and dance, but then look at the way they dance and go, Well, that's not the way we dance here. It's invite them to the party, get them on the dance floor, and however they choose to dance. That's good, because it adds to the overall collective.

Richard Medcalf
We haven't seen me dance, obviously, I get the basic idea.

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
Probably in the dead dancing category, these

Richard Medcalf
There we go. Definitely.

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
The third one that I spent, I spent a lot of time and quickly it became quite focused in the conversation with with Gary, who was the founder, Gary Scott, was really about a sense of purpose driven. There's a thread through my career where I certainly have felt more probably in the last 10 years or 15 years than the early part of my career. But more and more It's become increasingly important to me, which is what's the impact? What's the purpose? Why does this organization exist? And what is my contribution to that that purpose? And, you know, fortunate in the case of Scott Logic, you know, I think it's important, particularly if you're, you're taking founders to understand the founder story. Why did you put yourself in place to go and create this thing? That's risky? That's hard work that, you know, that takes a lot of effort. Why did you do it? And there was a core, never written down, never probably expressed the way I have subsequently chosen to express it. But it really was about creating opportunity that you know, Gary, had his you know he's northeast basis is a Newcastle that he'd gone to London to to pursue his technology career in the financial services industry a point in his career, he said, Well, why did I have to do that? Why did I have to leave the community in which I was born, which I was educated, which is supported me, why did I have to leave it to avail opportunity, I'm going to create my company in Newcastle, that's where I'm going to start. And I'm going to create opportunities for people to enjoy the sort of career that I have had without having to let go of community. So it started there. And we had graduates very early, much earlier, I think then then a lot of organizations similar. Just got logic, my, you know, bring them in. And once again, that was about why should people have to go away to come back to their company? Why can't they do it here? And so there was a real sense of purpose behind the company, though. And yeah, I can get to that, because actually creating opportunity, okay, it started with creating opportunity regionally in the UK. But now we can go bigger than that, now that we've got a platform and capacity and capability, we can think about different ways that that purpose can come to life and there was a really strong hook for me. I mean.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, I just, I love that. I mean, I do understand the founders story, I think it's a great takeaway. It really is because it how many CEOs really, really do that and suddenly, they've got a company that it's a disembodied financial engine, right. Whereas if you understand why it was created, what's really the cultural driver that's been instilled implicitly, probably in many cases, then I think you're tapping into the heart and soul.

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
Right? Absolutely. Absolutely. And I, you know, we'll talk about probably one of the biggest surprises I had, it led me to want to write that stuff down, it led me to start talking to people about it. And it does come to that, that kind of cultural alignment, which, you know, as it was implicit, it certainly kind of filtered through the fabric of the organization. But by being able to step in and say, Actually, we are all united, that this describes why we are here and what this organization is for, it means we can talk about different things, we can bring different ideas to the table, because they are rooted in the same reason for being in the first place. So those were the three big things to me, like the domain expertise, the cultural alignment, and routing all of that into, well, why does this exist? And do I want to be a part of this? And obviously, the answer was, yes.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. Yeah. Fantastic. Thank you. It's so clear. Let's move on. And you started to talk about surprises. And, uh, yeah. And that's why I'd love to understand what what surprised you, right? You had very senior roles in other companies here, you kind of got the CEO role, which has a different scope. So what were the surprises that you found, as you kind of wrestled with it with with that new opportunity?

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
So first and foremost, and you know, I've been surprised with this before, so I had no right to be surprised by this one. But stepping into an organization of you know, 400 500 people, the first one was, you know, you can't run the company. In fact, your job isn't to run the company, but you kind of step into it think, right, I'm here, CEOs, they run come back, everybody.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah.

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
And so the first thing was, you know, that's not what the job is. If you try and run the company, you will go mad, you'll probably get ill, you'll probably piss off a bunch of people who are hugely capable and ready to support you and want to be a part of it. You know, you kind of step in, you kind of think I need my hands and all the buttons and all the levers and I needed to know where all the connections are. And very quickly, you know, kind of wait, I would go mad, I'd get ill, or the other bad things of trying to be that person would come in. And so I had to step back. And I think there was a period, three to six months, which was, actually let me understand how it is run with and resist the urge to go and get my hands on the controls. Just understand why people were making the choices they were doing or why processes were working the way they weren't. How did people think they were successful, or what problems were, there was definitely a period. But I had to sit on my I literally had to sit on my hands. You're seeing me on video, because you can see my hands bouncing all over the screen. You know, with this, in the first six months was really don't reach for the controls. And after about six months. I've only been there. What is 14 months now. After the first six months, I really because, okay, I understand how it's running. That's great. There are areas for improvement. There are areas I want to introduce change there as something that you're brilliant I want I want to make sure that we acknowledge those and we keep doing those that we do those more. But what is my role in that as as the chief exec, you know, where do I play? And so there were four things for me. The first one was context. Like my view very much was you know, I wanted to people talk about empowerment, and I definitely wanted to give people autonomy and agency. If I couldn't control the levers and the strings without a whole bunch of bad things happening, then nobody else could either individually or personally, I wanted to make sure people feel actually, if that is within your span of control, you have agency, you have genuine empowerment. And to do that, you have to understand the bigger picture, you've got to understand the context in which you're making choices is actually came, Let's state our purpose, let's write it down. Let's use that as a lens to help us make good, good decisions. So our purpose is to create opportunity, and sustainable prosperity through technical innovation. So let's use that as we're making choices is this thing we're going to do going to create sustainable prosperity for us, for our people, for our clients, for our communities and society that we live in? Is it? Is it going to create opportunity? That's why we're here? How does this decision help us do that? Are we using technology in an innovative and exciting, exciting way. And so if you can create an end, it wasn't just, you know, writing the purpose down, it was talking to people about why that was important and how they might want to use it. It was reasserting our mission. You know, thinking about our client mission, you know, our, our organization or our economic mission, as well as our social value and the impact we wanted to have more broadly than just the organization, setting those things out reasserting our values. But it was also something to articulate, what's the strategy? What are the big pieces that we need to be thinking about and how they work together? So that people could, and we talked to the whole company about this wasn't just a group of execs sitting in a room going, Oh, here's our five point strategy for the next six months or 12 months or five years, because it's not a shared context.

Richard Medcalf
Right? It's that's just the whole organization in so that when you see this decision, you won't understand why or how that decision was arrived at.

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
So the first one was context. You and I have talked ahead of this guy, I am very, you know, performance motivated, task orientated. And when you when you kind of spell out a purpose, as broad as a, you know, an encompassing as, as you articulate, you know, an ambitious multi year strategy. Where do you go first, and if you don't know where you're going first, then everyone could be going somewhere different. So the second part was really about describing focus and trying to narrow down what are the most important things first, next, and then who do we want to be in the next 612 months? Where do we need to get to in the 1212 to 2436? And what's beyond that? And how do we actually focus in on the things that are gonna have the greatest impact? And how do we co have collective agreements found that, that there's actually there are some other important things, but right now, they're not immediately in our focus for very specific reasons.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, I love this concept of the rallying cry, you know, which is your What's the number one thing right now? Or, you know, and you only have one at a time? Because otherwise, it's chaos. Right? But so it's, as you said, it's trying to get a bit of a phasing? And what are we gonna do now, that allows us to then build the next thing, and next quarter, or whatever it is.

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
And if you've done context, right, people can see the build, right, and they can understand why choices are made to focus on. And that's super important. The next bit was was banned, creating momentum, and particularly taking an established organization. Once again, this was a successful business, it had done things in a way that had allowed it to continue to grow and thrive over, you know, a decade and a half more. And so it can be quite, you know, easy to kind of say, well, how do we just do a little bit more of what we did yesterday? And will that be sufficient? And because when you start to think about the context, we built the focus, like, wow, probably not. But how do we find the energy within ourselves to step away from the tried and trusted things that got us here? And except that they probably won't be the things that get us to the next level? That's scary. We've talked about that. That can be you know, quite confronting, but Oh, but I'm comfortable. I know how this works. I'm stepping into something a little bit more unknown to me, that we're going to have to discover we might have to learn some stuff, oh, goodness, we might even make some mistakes. How do we make that safe? So it's, it's creating that sense of drive through focus in a bigger picture, and making it safe for people to step into the unknown, which probably leads me on to my last one, which I spend a lot of my time around relationships and thinking about the quality of relationships, the impact of my behavior, my choices, my drives, on other people, trying to understand what I'm observing and the behavior of other people because their motivations might be hidden, and trying to understand what they see that maybe don't use my lens to interpret it. Maybe talk to them about what you're observing and the impact that might be having and to move us beyond this concept of the functional or the performing team, it says when you do a thing, and I do a thing, and yeah, they're interrelated, but they're kind of separate. And maybe I rely on you for some stuff, and you rely on me some stuff, but there's no deeper connection, getting the relationships to a point where there's a genuine level of trust. And actually, people move off their own agenda, because they are genuinely invested in the success of their other team members. Whether that's the exact team of senior leadership team or any member of the overall organization team, it's got logic is being able to move to somebody else's agenda and understanding that that starts with high trust. So the biggest one was, you know, the biggest surprise was I can't run the company. But for the company to run, these are the things I need to spend my time on.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, I think it's brilliant. And of course, you know, Steve's book is now available in all good booksellers. It's really, it's beautiful, right? It's really clear. And I think it's a great, it's a great roadmap. I think it's gold, right? I mean, without context, you have to end up micromanaging or you have to feel because nobody else has it. Right? So how are you expecting people to deliver?

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
I'll tell a story because I think it was day to new CEO, I still don't know, join during pandemic, so trying to meet people and establish these relationships over camera. And somebody from from the operational side of business kind of put a call in my diary and said, Oh, we've got this client, we've got two client opportunities, that are very specific skill set, we've got one person available who could do it, Steve, which person or which client engagement should we assign this person to? And make? I am literally the least qualified person in this organization to be able to answer that question. So I did what I needed instinct, say, Was it what do you think, like, I'm talking to the person who has most of the information will feel the greatest impact of a good or a bad decision? You know, what do you think? And? And I think, you know, that was the other. That's an instinctive response. I literally didn't know how to answer that question. And so I answered it as a consultant would always answer it with another question. And the person immediately went, well, we should do this one, because you know, the team needs it more, or the impact could be greater. And we have someone coming on the line who could take on the second client, we think they can wait a little bit longer, as brilliant. I don't have to give you that answer. I don't have to be the one who succeeded. Because you have context, you understand the decision that is new, and you're able to do it. And I guess that was a second learning, they had that you know, how, how long term costly it can be? Not just to a CEO, I think to any leader, but how long term costs it is to give orders to tell people the answer or tell them how to do things or step in and make decisions which actually you can make. But you should have a hook that says should I make that one? Because otherwise I'm making that decision every time and I'm disempowering. I'm removing agency and autonomy from that individual. And then, once again, we talked a little bit about this. It's so hard in the moment, particularly for someone like me, who is task oriented, like well, I make a decision, I tell someone how to do it, it gets done tick, immediate burst of energy in my heart that Zack can move on to the next thing. So in the moment, it feels so rewarding. But what I'm left with is, and if I do that, with everybody, a bunch of people who are now reliant on me to make that decision for them.

Richard Medcalf
You train them, and you find them, right, yeah. And then suddenly, it's like, that's, that's what the boss expects, etc. Actually, it's probably safer, because, you know, not to get shouted out for doing the wrong thing. And yeah, suddenly, you've got a very passive organization. And people are wondering why the people so passive, I'm waiting for their ideas. Well, you've created that reality. leaders come in, often, they often leaders will find they have to change that reality that's been created by our predecessor, you know, we need to actually say, this is not the game anymore.

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
Yeah, let's not do that. And I think that's the other one, which is particularly joining an organization of this size with this, this, this history behind it, is it's really hard to know, what's really going on, you know, people will happily, you know, give you reports or, you know, financial statements, or there'll be dashboards, you can look at a PowerPoint, you know, we did it this way, and it is, and that's a certain amount of information that is important, and I'm not denying it, but it's really hard to know, how do people feel about that? Where are their ideas? And, and so I think the other thing, and this is a lesson I learned when I was in government, actually, I was very fortunate to spend some time with the then cabinet secretary. So Jeremy Hayward, who, you know, has, unfortunately passed on, but I remember having a conversation with him in the corridors, I think and ask him what you've got to employ your jobs nuts. You're gonna run this massive public service civil servant machine that delivers public policy in the UK, and public services. You know, how do you choose where to spend your time? And I remember him saying, you know, he spent about 20 25% of his time just talking to people as like, a day, more than a day a week, just just chatting people beyond the scheduled meetings and the reports. It Yeah, it's the only way I really understand where to spend the rest of my time. Because the data I can take in and I can separate. But to turn data into information, I really needed to understand how the senior civil servants and the broad civil sector, public sector workers, really how they felt about it. And I suddenly realized, like, yeah, he's been doing that to me for the last year and a half. He's been asking me about this. So what was my opinion on that? And so I think that's that that is super important that you coming into an organization as a new leader, but I would say, even as an established leader, is make sure you've got the ability, personally, but also through, you know, the the other leaders in your organization to really connect and spend time asking people, what's really going on for you? What's that feel like? What's happening? What do you see? Because it's not always represented in the information that otherwise normally flow to you?

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, fantastic. Yeah, great space and connect, because then that's, that's slowing down. If you're stuck in meetings all day, it might feel productive. But do you really getting the context yourself that you need? So that's fantastic advice. Hey, see, if we have time, let's move on and get a little quick fire questions. I think it's interesting to find out a little bit about some of the inputs to to the lives of CEOs. What's the favorite quote that has perhaps, influenced you or guides your your leadership?

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
Yeah, so it's a David Marquette, quote, the author of turn the ship around, and leadership is language, which is don't take control and attract develop followers, is give control and create leaders. And importantly, the leaders in that is lowercase L. Because it's talking about behavior, rather than roles.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. Perfect. Yeah, so sums up a lot of what we've been talking about today. What about a favorite app? Is there an app on your phone? Yeah, apart from the usual email and calendar and everything else, where you kind of turn to?

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
Yeah, I can assure you calendar is not my favorite app. No, it's medium. So the blog platform, you know, I find, I'm a magpie, I like to pick up ideas from here, there and everywhere. And I do read a lot. But you know, I get, you know, five minutes, 10 minutes, a train here or a cabaret there. I just find medium really, really just to get to dip into people I'm connected to, but also it suggests ideas, and I can think of just short, sharp kind of bursts. Oh, that's really interesting. I'm now going to go think about that, where I might take it.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, beautiful. How about a book that's really influenced you?

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
This is probably obvious, which is Simon Synnex book. Start with Why. You know, I've talked about creating context, you know, and my conversation with clients very much, you know, there is a vast, you know, professional services, technology consulting, you know, supplier base out there, you know, why would a client choose to work specifically with Scott Logic? And so we always start with, well, what is Scott Logic for? Why does it exist? And why is it specifically the partner of choice for any of our particular clients? Also, sometimes why it is not? And I think that's important as well, you know, Simon writes very eloquently, and speaks very eloquently about that as well.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. That's it's, it's, it's, it's a counterintuitive, right? It starts in till you suddenly realize, yeah, actually, when we speak from Essence, it does attract people and repel others. And that's the right of how it should be. And what advice would you give your 20 year self, your 20 year old self?

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
I think there's there's probably two parts as well. The first one is definitely that we used to use this phrase a lot when I was in government, but the the team is the unit of delivery. And really kind of think you're the first part of my career. And I think I expect I don't come from a technical kind of background. You know, I come from an arts background. And I think I spent the very, you know, the first half of my career, building my own skills and trying to prove those skills because I had a, you know, an imposter syndrome and I have ended up in technology. I know nothing about this, what value can I possibly break? And so it was often that I was focusing on me and my individual contribution, which without all the other people involved in what is a team sport, creating modern software. I couldn't have been successful. And so I definitely would go back and say, yeah, you've got to you've got to build your skills. That's absolutely something that see it in the context and its contribution to the collective. That is that one. The other one, you know, is really developing or cultivating a genuine care for the other people that you work with. You know, we talked a little bit about the functioning versus the, you know, the high performing team where there's genuine investment in the success of other people, you got to get a bit deep, you've got to get behind the professional persona or the skills and capabilities, someone's representing, really get to know them a bit. And if you believe that teamwork, the combination of skills and capabilities, experiences and backgrounds, that those are a differentiator for high performing teams, then actually caring, genuinely caring about the other members of that team is the foundation for that. So I definitely tell myself to do more of that. Yeah, yeah.

Richard Medcalf
Thank you. That's, it's it's such challenging as well, for many of us, right? We focus on our own skills, and actually remembering that it's only as they're expressed through the context of the team or the collective that they they scale their impact. It's fantastic. It's fantastic catch. That's one. Yeah, many of you, many of our best guests on the show come from referrals. So I'm always curious to find out, you know, who's somebody who's influenced you personally, you know, a CEO. Perhaps you've encountered in your own career, you know, who might be a great guest for for the podcast, and what do you admire about them?

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
So there's two and they're not CEOs. Interestingly enough, they one goes back some time, one I've met relatively recently, the first one is a chap called Colin Ferguson, who runs the Altitude Foundation, which is we supported its creation through Scott Logic, way before I arrived here. But it focuses on creating opportunity, once again, aligned with our purpose, to open up access to technology careers, to kids from backgrounds who might otherwise not and so focuses on programs in schools, to introduce technology careers and skills to kids and all the rest of it. And Colin, one has a domain expert in what he's doing. And I can literally listen to him talk about the impact of the work the institute Foundation has, but he also does it in such a gentle and inviting way in. And I just think his natural style, and making your what is a very small organization have such a tremendous impact. I just imagine if I could get that ratio working for Scott Logic, you know, I'd be taken over the world, I think. So I definitely respected for the style he brings to the deep domain knowledge and care and passion he has for your space. But just the way he brings people and builds coalition, I think that one, the other one was a lady called Janet Hughes. She's program director for the future farming and countryside program at Defra, she worked with me when I was in government, if you know anything about GDS, back it or the government digital service back in those days, there was one of our stickers was be bold, which was Janet. Janet was challenging the four kind of principles of the civil service code and saying it's missing something it's missing, be bold, along with, you know, impartiality and objectivity and stuff that's in there. incredibly capable leader, and once again, very humble in how she brings people together, she's done some amazing work and bringing together a podcast for farmers to talk about the program of work she's doing and how government policy is going to affect farming in this country. And once again, it's just built this incredible coalition, her team, her stakeholders, a broader group of people are impacted by that work. Just truly extraordinary, and definitely someone I would suggest you talk to.

Richard Medcalf
Fantastic, thanks so much. So let me ask my favorite questions, which is about the next level because what gets me out of bed in the morning? What where do you go from here as a business, you know, Scott Logic go in the next few years, what's its next level gonna look like?

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
Well, bigger and better. But I mean, I get a lot of calls from people that work in, in corporate finance, who, you know, do you want some investment? Do you want us to buy it as I go away? We're very happy being, you know, a private, privately owned company. But we do want to grow for sure. But the focus is growing with that purpose. The growth of the sake of growth is not interesting to us. We want to grow in ways that we can actually demonstrably point to our creating opportunity for our clients, for our people, for the communities we live in, and how do we do more of that? So I think it is, you know, I said, traditionally, we're in the financial services sector, we've got a significant proportion now all public sector work. They're all industries that haven't yet been able to tap into what I think is some really brilliant people that's got logic, I want to bring that forward. I think there are also new and evolving technologies that we want to explore and we want to be able to bring those to our clients and say here is opportunity for you to actually move the dial for your business through our expertise and the technologies in the market. But importantly, it's got to be sustainable that this isn't a certain flop. This isn't Let's push hard and easy enough that we actually are building towards, I sometimes use the language of the 100 year company that then I'm merely a custodian for the foreseeable journey that I will be honest, got logic, which hopefully is long and many years. But that actually we're building a platform that the things that we hold to be true today that we think are important to our business today will have long tenure, and that we will be acknowledged and respected for it in the years and decades to come.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, I love it. And I'm that's Christians that the the, the corollary of that, as you will look to grow with purpose and build that 100 year company, what are you going to need to do yourself to multiply your impact, right, we've talked about this, what God is here, never gets us there. And we're going to have to reinvent that success formula a little bit. So where might that stretch be for you?

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
Yeah, I mean, this, this was a hard question to think about, because obviously, I'm perfect. In any system, but I think one, it comes back to focusing on being more teacher than Captain that, you know, the more and the longer I do this job. Yeah, I now have 30 years of experience. And it's interesting, but it's only my experience. And really, rather than use that experience to tell other people, it's expose that experience such that they can tap into and learn from it in their own way. And so, you know, I talked about sitting on my hands, I talk about trying not to necessarily give the answer, but sit back a little and say, Well, what do you think, Where are you heading with that? What are you observing? What are you feeling? I need to definitely sit on my hands more, and resist the little devil on my shoulder. He says, answer that, you know the answer to that you're the smartest kid in the class. And the good news is, I'm not the smartest kid in the class, not by any stretch of the imagination. But I found my, my place in an organization where I think it's a pretty advanced class. And as much as I can open my experience up for others, such that they can learn from it, I have to open myself up to learn from them as well, that I am not injured from that because of the position that I hold. And so I definitely need to think about that. The other one is, I listened to one of your other podcasts, actually. And I was like, yeah, that I have to keep telling the story. It feels like I'm being repetitive. That, you know, when I talk about purpose, mission values, I talk about what we're trying to do and how we're trying to do it, you get to a point where it's like, oh, God, someone's gonna call me out that he's a broken record. He's got one or two lines, and you just keep using it. It's once again, getting comfortable with that, because that is a part of the foundation of what we're trying to build on. And some of the things we'll do will change around that. But being true to that that context that we set up front and it's rooted in purpose is super important.

Richard Medcalf
I have to say, if you're not boring, your executive team, silly with your messaging and your priorities, then you're not communicating enough, right? Because if they're not bored, silly, then the rest of the organization is probably not hearing it. Right. Right. Because it takes dilutes as it goes out.

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
100% on that.

Richard Medcalf
So almost it almost becomes like a sign of pride. Like, do I sound like a broken record to you? Yes. Excellent. Right. That's what you want. You want to be the broken record in many ways. So yeah. So yeah, it's a good catch. Let's uh, last thing, Steve. Severe a great discussion. If people want to find out more about you, or about Scott Logic, what's the best way for them to do that?

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
Well, I mean, folks can obviously check out the website, you know, scottlogic.com. Two "t"in Scott. Reach out directly, actually, we've got an email address, it's just set up at steve@scottlogic.com. where folks can contact us directly. I'll be honest, I'm not the only person who looks at that inbox.

Richard Medcalf
So there's no no DP personal secret study, we got it.

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
There's a bunch, they helped me with that. But definitely reach out, you know, if there's people want to know more about us, or you want to work with us or possibly join us, or want to hear about some of the, you know, I talked about three pillar mission that we have one of those is about impact and social impact. And you know, what we want to see in the world and be in the world as a part of it. If you want to talk about that, too. There's obviously the Altitude Foundation that we support, but we do more than that, as well. And I'm always keen to hear about what other organizations are doing in the space of social impact and what's working, what's not working. So definitely up for that

Richard Medcalf
Perfect. Well, see this has been a fantastic conversation. You know, I think you've given us so much and thank you, you clearly thought about this stuff, you know, so you can write a book on it, you've got your context are focused on momentum, and relationships and I think these these reflections around the cost of giving orders, and the importance of actually creating this space in your diary to just connect with people, find out what's really going on and all the other things we've talked about. It's been it's been really, really rich. So just thank you for sharing your wisdom and being so open and engaging around it.

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
Yeah. You're welcome I mean my my my Intel imposter syndrome is kicking in so everyone knows this already Steve you're not telling anyone the answers but if it's helpful to somebody I'm very glad to have shared it.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, well perfect. Thanks, Steve look forward to continuing the conversation.

Stephen Foreshew-Cain
Yeah. Thanks, thanks, Richard.

Richard Medcalf
Goodbye.

**Note: This transcript is automatically generated.
Please excuse any errors.

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