Rob Ferris, new CEO of Konica Minolta Business Solutions (UK) Ltd discusses his experiences of joining the company during the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, and how well the company was prepared to deal with such unusual circumstances.
When I accepted the role to lead Konica Minolta Business Solutions (UK) Ltd back in November 2019, none of us were yet aware of COVID-19 and the profound effect the global pandemic would have on all our professional and personal lives.
It is the perfect illustration as to why we should all, as much as possible, expect the unexpected. I am proud to say that Konica Minolta was extremely well placed to adapt its operations at speed, prioritising the safety and well-being of all colleagues, and ensuring seamless continuation of services to its customers and partners. Its forward-thinking approach instilled a sense of real confidence to me that it was as good a time as ever to assume such a prominent role during the most unusual of times.
Any business leader will tell you that taking on a new role generates significant personal energy and excitement for the future and a deep motivation to ensure the forthcoming ideas and plans deliver the desired outcomes. Clarity and simplicity of messaging is key, making what can appear complex, easy so that everyone can connect and understand the individual and collective roles they play in delivering future success. Essential to achieving this is… listening - to customers, partners, colleagues and stakeholders to truly understand all parts of the business and to ensure any future strategies are directly connected to the real-world operational challenges and opportunities.
Pride & Passion
My own experience of joining during the COVID pandemic highlights the genuine agile and digital culture that has been fostered and delivered at Konica Minolta. A new leadership role ordinarily begins with extensive face-to-face meetings to get to know the organisation and practice the “deep listening”.
Irrespective of being locked down in the rural countryside, this is exactly what still happened albeit exclusively through digital video collaboration platforms and services. The previously implemented systems meant this was essentially…. business as usual for most….and with a less formal feel as we met with new home environments as the backdrop - an unexpected enabler for more open collaborative and engaging conversations! Balancing the worlds of homeschooling and caring for friends and family with technology driven customer and partner projects can be challenging but when trust and empowerment is present across the organisation, people can perform to such an inspiring level. Meeting so many colleagues, customers, and partners over the first 60 days have been such a highlight. The pride and passion for our business is clear to see and feel from everywhere.
Agile Working & Collaboration
The UK’s strict movement restrictions have had huge ramifications for everyone, but especially businesses and employees. Taking up the role of CEO in May, I was immediately impressed by the resilient business continuity and how well employees had responded to such change - a clear indication of an adaptive culture complimented by remote capabilities.
Whilst Konica Minolta’s history is primarily centred on print related technologies, it has extensively expanded its capabilities and competencies into delivering world class intelligent digitally connected workplaces, something which all businesses, large and small, public and private need to be embracing right now. It was extremely rewarding to see how our technologies and services were enabling front line workers to battle the pandemic and ultimately save lives. Intelligent video solutions providing thermal temperature detection have enabled operations across the public and private sectors to continue to operate whilst the agile nature of our IT services offerings have allowed organisations to scale up or down at speed whether it be to survive or thrive in such a unique business landscape. Delivering line of business technologies and services so successfully in such a fast-moving and restrictive environment has further added to my confidence and belief in the opportunities that exist for our organisation, customers, and partners in the future.
With customer and employee safety at the centre of our activities and plans, we have been able to continue all operations blending digital and human experiences, delivering excellent remote support alternatives, as part of the Enabling Carbon Neutrality Programme as well as continuing to maintain our NHS and essential services. With full access to all business systems, our sales, support, logistics, and operations teams have continued to be fully available as normal. Throughout the pandemic, we have held daily response forums to support ongoing engagement with our colleagues and customers to enable the continual adaption of plans and activities where needed.
Innovation and creativity are essential in navigating successfully through such uncertain times, as is a sense of togetherness. Passionate people connected to a common purpose will drive change and deliver what is needed even in the most difficult times.
The New Normal and the Opportunities Ahead
With COVID-19 restrictions slowly beginning to ease across the UK and most of us becoming accustomed to the ‘new normal’, it is a great time to look forward to the rich and diverse range of opportunities that lie ahead for Konica Minolta as well as preparing to help us and our customers respond to the economic impact of this pandemic. If anything, the lockdown has proven to me just how well prepared, agile and progressive our company is and can continue to be as we face these challenges and opportunities. As these times are so unknown, and what lies ahead may quickly change, it is imperative to be prepared.
I could not be more ready to be taking the helm of such a progressive company, at a time when organisations more than ever need to be rethinking the IT services and solutions that can enable their workplaces of the future in this new world we all find ourselves living and working in.