What sort of person works for an outsourcing company?
Take four people and ask them what they do to relax. One likes nothing more than to settle down in front of the TV with his fiancé and a bottle of red wine and has a penchant for cake. Another is a cat lover whose pastimes include woodturning, hiking and releasing pent-up aggression on the Xbox. Then there is the movie-loving, paintballing, indoor rock climbing gym addict who also enjoys the zip wires at Go Ape. And finally, there is a fellow movie-lover who is currently learning British Sign Language and has an interest in animal care volunteering.
Each of these folks has one thing in common. They all work for Intelligent Office UK, an outsourcing company providing secretarial and administrative support primarily to the legal sector. But who are they, what is their background and what, exactly, do they do?
Vicky is 41 and is based in Bristol. She is a project manager currently working on projects in Birmingham and London (Wragge & Co) and Southampton (Moore Blatch). Vicky joined a year ago.
Her career up to this point was fascinating. She describes a “wilderness period” immediately post-graduation! Having read law, she joined Linklaters as manager of its 40-strong, 24/7 proofreading department supporting 3,000 lawyers worldwide.
Vicky got her first taste of outsourcing when Linklaters decided to offshore the service and she was asked to train the new team in Chennai, India. Job done, she returned to the UK. Soon after, she got the opportunity to move to Cape Town where she became operational support & quality manager for outsourcing company, Exigent. There she managed a document production team supporting leading law firms such as Hogan Lovells, Withers, Pinsent Masons and Linklaters. Moving back to the UK in 2010, Vicky then spent two years working for Allen & Overy before deciding to go back to her roots in the South West.
It was then that Vicky joined Intelligent Office as team leader of the Document Production Centre at Bevan Brittan in Bristol. She was quickly promoted to business services manager there and more recently she has become a project manager focused on transition programmes and in particular the implementation of document production teams at various client sites. Like others, Vicky enjoys the variety and the fact that she can use her specialist skills, whilst meeting lots of people around the country.
No two days are the same and there is “always something around the corner to throw you a googly”, and this is what Vicky relishes. Having been part of the outsourcing market for eight years – both as client and provider – she is excited about the speed with which the legal market is changing. The biggest challenge? “Finding enough hours in the day!”
Vicky sees this time as a watershed moment for Intelligent Office. There is increasing interest from larger law firms and the development of TA services (team assistant) is very exciting. She sees more and more opportunities for people throughout the company to grow as the organisation grows.
Daniel is based in London and is 36. He is a key member of the Docucentre team with clients Farrer & Co. Prior to joining Intelligent Office he worked for Boodle Hatfield for seven years as its reprographics supervisor. This was before the team made the transition across to Intelligent Office. Shortly after transferring, Daniel was appointed Docucentre assistant at Farrer & Co. This is where he has worked for the last three years, apart from when he was seconded to a transition team where his role was to lead the way for newly transferred team members in terms of exceptional customer service skills and help them to understand the specialist customer-focussed service that Intelligent Office provides. This helped confirm his view that there would be great scope for personal progression with Intelligent Office.
His current role involves the successful management of client expectations in relation to copying, filing, printing, scanning and what he describes as “low end secretarial duties”. This is both challenging and rewarding according to Daniel. In post, he has also introduced a new service to Farrer & Co: localised administrative support (LAS/floor support) within the estates and private property department. Effectively, this entails providing a similar range of Docucentre services, but embedded within - and tailored to - a specific group.
Daniel likes feeling part of a team and being a member of a successful organisation in which there is always the possibility of working on a variety of projects. As for the future, he hopes to advance and grow with the company as it continues to expand.
Mike is 24 and based in Edinburgh. He works with clients Martin Currie, an investment management company. Prior to joining Intelligent Office Mike worked for Amazon. In addition to handling account queries and
customer complaints, and training new members of staff, he became a representative of the ‘Amazon Local’ product, which is similar to Groupon. He also worked with Holland & Barrett as an assistant store manager and did his share of bar management work at two well-known hostelries in the city.
Five months ago, Mike joined Intelligent Office as a team leader in the Docucentre run on behalf of Martin Currie. He is responsible for motivating his team to ensure we deliver a high level of customer service and an excellent work product. The team’s duties are fairly broad. In addition to printing and document production, they include facilities management, maintenance, internal office moves and event management.
It is this variety of work that Mike thrives on in his new role, but what gives him the greatest buzz is the sheer quality of his team. The work is full of challenges; however, the most difficult task facing Mike at the moment is remembering all the faces and names of colleagues throughout Intelligent Office. The company now employs over 500 people UK-wide.
In terms of the future, Mike hopes to develop his career as the company expands and would happily relocate to support that effort.
Kay is 33 and based in Birmingham. She is business services manager with our clients, law firm Clarke Willmott. She has been with Intelligent Office for seven years, during which time she has been given more and more responsibility. Before joining the firm, Kay was a member of the management team at the largest nightclub in Birmingham. There she hosted events she describes as “brilliant and jam-packed” and enjoyed the buzz of meeting local celebrities.
She has been involved in lots of exciting projects since joining Intelligent Office. One of which was working on, new client at the time, Capsticks. Kay was “thrown right into the thick of it” when shortly afterwards she was asked to help plan and implement the move of the firm from Putney to Wimbledon. For a while, evenings and weekends were sacrificed to ensure the move was a success and 300 staff members were able to make the transition smoothly to the new premises.
Kay’s core role at Capsticks was as team leader of the floor support team, the first of its kind to be provided to any Intelligent Office client. She was able to use her creativity and project management skills in designing the service from scratch. In doing so, she built a team of 20 people to deliver an effective service - a service that is now replicated at various sites around the UK.
Over her time at the company, Kay has also worked with a US firm in London, and during this time was voted Intelligent Office employee of the year, as well as a full service firm in the Midlands. In the process, she graduated first of all from team leader to implementation manager and then to her current role as business services manager with Clarke Willmott.
Here, Kay leads a team covering Docucentre, First Impression (reception), Reference Point (file management) and facilities management services. She has a passion for continuous improvement and ensuring an effective and efficient service is delivered. As ‘BSM’, her role also involves elements of HR, recruitment, learning and development and accounts. Kay loves the variety this affords and the fact that she is able to use a broad range of skills.
However, the most rewarding part of her job lies in the positive difference the team makes to the way in which the client manages its own business. In this way, they feel an integral part of two organisations – client and employer! Being so passionate about one’s work brings its challenges in terms of achieving a good work-life balance, but Kay is mindful of the importance investing in enough R&R.
According to Kay, the future looks bright for Intelligent Office. It has great people and an excellent leadership team at the helm that will succeed in expanding its services to all corners of the UK. The North of England seems the next most likely market to be penetrated.
So there you have it. A bunch of people who take pride in their work and who - even if they have rather different pastimes - have at least two things in common. When it comes to working with a successful outsourcing company, they relish the sheer variety of work available to them and the many opportunities to progress in their careers.
I will leave you to guess which of them once went cage diving with Great White Sharks. Halfway through the dive they realised that their legs were sticking out of the back of the cage. Fortunately, the sharks missed the opportunity. Good thing too. As they said: “I’m short enough as it is!!”