Parallels between Coaching Under-11s football and leading a successful tech company

October 18, 2019

Football manager

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Two things I’m passionate about in life are my work in the technology marketplace, and playing, watching and coaching football.

I have the pleasure of coaching an Under-11 Team in a Sussex youth league close to home. Since the age of five, the team players (now 10 going on 11) have developed their skills, fitness, temperament, and respect for the game and the opponent. This was all clear to see when this culminated in our first silverware as a 7-a-side team at the end of last season.

Seeing them piling atop each other in celebration at the end of a very tough final left us bursting with pride, and as a coaching team we are in awe of the players they have become.

This year we move into 9-a-side. A bigger pitch, goal and new rules (offside) mean new conditions. Adapting to this environment depends on more collaboration on the pitch, closer communications and with a diversity of skills and respect for specific roles in the team. Risky and outrageous solo efforts dribbling from one end of the pitch to the other is no longer an admired standard in this team! Helping 10-year-olds to understand this is no mean feat as they look to impress their parents, and so is something we must do to continue our success.

Moving to my second passion, the technology marketplace.

According to this article by Deloitte Consulting, many enterprises are embedding technologists in every line-of-business as they seek to translate the technology requirements of each one into specific outcomes. Want more sales? Deploy cloud-based CRM. Want to improve Employee Engagement? Implement a flexible working policy and mobile modern user experience. Decisions made in the business; enabled by IT.

Consequently, the IT organisation is changing, because technology skills have to permeate every department of a modern enterprise. It is no longer enough for IT to stand alone, because everyone has to play in the IT game.  Thus, IT has to build diversity of skills, facilitate greater communication and all whilst managing legacy, technological debt with pace-of-change constrained by limited resources. 

Helping an enterprise to achieve this is no mean feat either, and telcos are evolving to fulfil this demand. An Ovum paper in April 2019 stated that telcos were investing heavily in professional services, where in their view, “planning, deployment, provisioning, and configuration of new hardware systems and software, as well as migration of workloads to new systems and devices…” support transformation and expanded managed services adoption. The implication is that it’s no longer enough for telcos to approach the market with standalone product-led approaches. Enterprises expect telcos to help them build bigger and bolder strategies, with the tactical plans and technical skills to get them there. 

On my commute to London soon after we announced the launch of Telstra Purple (the biggest technology services business in Australia, which is also in the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong), my two passions seemingly converged as I started to see parallels.

For the uninitiated, Telstra Purple represents our belief that it’s people who give purpose to technology – and putting purpose and people (PUR-PLE) at the heart of everything we do brings customers closer to our vision of helping them thrive in a brilliant connected future.

Telstra Purple is a step up in the way we compete in the technology services market. It integrates our standalone acquired professional services entities under a single banner – including Company85 in the UK, which we acquired two years ago. It comprises more than 1,500 certified experts in networks, security, cloud, collaboration, mobility, and data and analytics.  

Whilst the two are fundamentally different businesses, combining our consulting businesses’ strengths and skillsets with our global portfolio’s products and processes will greatly help our customers achieve their desired outcomes. It’s my job as EMEA region lead to unlock these synergies by fostering a culture of collaboration – and as a coach in business and football, my pleasure to compete for more silverware with both of the fantastic squads in my life.