Heading to the Homeland for a Week

Last week I had the opportunity to travel to the UK for a few days, to attend the CIO Finance EU Summit on Wednesday, and work with the new sales staff on Tuesday and Thursday to bone up on their content knowledge. It was a good week and I thought I’d share a little of the experience with you.

I arrived Tuesday morning and the VP of EMEA, Ollie Stebbings graciously arranged to have Sophia, the new Office Manager pick me up at the airport. Of course Ollie forgot to tell either of us what the other looked like or share contact info, so we weren’t quite sure at first who we were looking for or who each other was. Fortunately Cardiff airport is a touch smaller than O’Hare and Pearson (my “home” airports) so we were able to get it figured out pretty quickly. Sophia ran me into the office (thanks for that Soph) and I got to see the space and meet the whole team for the first time. By all accounts, Cardiff has come a long way and there’s a good number of staff their. Our VP of HR Mike Deedigan was in the office also working with the latest round of hires (Pippa on the RM side, Stacey and Jamaine for the BDMs) and these three bring the total contingent to well over a dozen. They’re a young group for the most part, but clearly committed, and the new staff especially were just enthralled with the CDM culture and business.

About 4:00 we left to head to London with Ollie driving us down in his Dad’s car (it must have been his Dad’s – no self respecting person under 80 drives a Jag, right?). Traffic was what you might call awful – it seems the Brits get thrown for a loop by potholes as one developed on the M4 and it helped turn what was supposed to be a 2.5 hour run into a 5 hour slog. The other part of that of course was London’s famous (infamous?) traffic and any North American that’s used to a neatly laid out grid of streets would probably find it as chaotic as I did. By the time we got checked into the hotel it was about 9:30 local and we still hadn’t eaten dinner (or for me, slept in 36 hours). The team were in great spirits though and after a quick bite we turned in, to get ready for the event the next day.

The day of the event dawned grey and dreary (because it’s Britain) but that didn’t deter the delegates who began arriving promptly. Our MC, Marcus Harris commented how unusual it was to get so many people out so early in London and indeed, by the time our opening speaker, John Finch, CIO for the Bank of England and a seriously big deal took the stage, the room was packed. John’s talk about innovation and IT changing the business was entertaining and insightful and really set the stage well. From there everything proceeded apace with one good session after another. The Park Place Westminster was a great location and the rooms were all clustered closely together, meaning it was easy for the delegates to get around and even easier for the team to stay on top of them. Not one Executive Exchange was missed, and not a single word of complaint was heard throughout the day. Our keynote sponsors, Nuage Networks and Actifio, both had great sessions, were well received, and indicated that they got lots out of the day. Actifio liked it so much they committed to a bunch more events for a bunch more money, and at the end of the day CDM had another great event in the books. This one really was as good as anything that has been done on this side of the pond so a hearty congratulations to the whole on-site team (Ollie, Nadia, Andy, Abi, Steph, Gina, Sophia).

Back to Cardiff by 11:00 (no traffic on the return journey, but lots of Welsh fog) to get all set for one more day in the office. Bright and early start (it really was bright, honestly – the first day with no rain) to a day that was all about training, training, training. Brett and Paige and Tom and Kate all took turns with me digging into their coverage areas to find out what made it relevant, what made those companies tick, and what we could do to appeal to those vendors. Each time I had to chase them out of the office and back to phones because their questioning and diving deeper just kept going; it was clear they wanted to learn more and wanted to use those insights to help them succeed. Then it turned into a free for all, with a queue of people at my desk wanting to learn about different technologies, understand different market segments, discover different technology providers (and potential sponsors). Sophia kept the tea coming, and the team did the same with the questions. And at the end of the day, when all was said and done I thanked the team for welcoming me, and they thanked me for giving them a little bit of insight.

On the day I was hired Glenn told me that Cardiff was key to the growth plans for this company and having been there and met the team I firmly believe his faith is well placed. They may not have the experience that we have in the Chicago office, but they have just as much passion and drive. With Ollie providing strong leadership I think it’s fair to say that the Cardiff office is every bit a part of CDM as the New York and Chicago offices are.

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