Being A Successful Leader From Day 1! Dave Millner, Workforce Science IBM

Moving to a new job within a new organisation can provide huge challenges to senior leaders, especially those that are in their first ‘big’ leadership role. It’s an exciting time but new leaders these days are expected to ‘hit the ground’ running from day one.

In dealing with staff, customers and stakeholders, new leaders should try to focus upon 3 key areas that may help others understand what is expected moving forward.

  1. What are the biggest future challenges and issues that need to be addressed and why do they exist in the first place? This focuses on both the future as well as understanding some of the history that inevitably needs to be known to be able to operate in any organisation.
  2. What are the opportunities for business growth and how can those opportunities be exploited? This focuses on business improvement and growth which of course are paramount to all organisations whatever sector or business they may be operating in.
  3. What are the changes you would make if you were “me”? This focuses on engaging with the team, seeking their insight and ideas and right from the start demonstrating that you value and appreciate their perspective; after all they have been there far longer than you!

Many new leaders now also consider using a coach or mentor to support them in the early stages of his or her new role and I would certainly encourage such an approach. It is useful to have someone that a leader can confide in and talk over issues and challenges; its lonely being a leader at times!

In the early stages of a new leadership role it’s important to make sure that you really understand what the team is saying to you (not what you think they might be saying) so you can obtain insights into where possible resistance to change may occur, where the culture may need to shift and how leadership styles may need to flex and adapt so that he is able to make his mark.

It’s very important for new leaders to identify some early wins where they can make an impact both within the organisation but also with their team. These can be simple steps like changing work processes, changing the format of team meetings or seeking feedback on a regular basis about how things are going from the teams perspective; whatever it is, it’s about change.

Organisations can run the most sophisticated talent management programmes and selection processes but the first 100 days are always the most critical for a new leader. This is where the work starts, and there is a need to quickly realise change and some form of business result or improvement. New leaders in particular need to make more of an impact and communicate more effectively than ever before; first impressions are so important I’m afraid. Therefore, leaders need to be equipped to act and take a new team with them, breaking down any barriers or resistance to change through dialogue and carefully
listening to people.

Leaders need to build the environment where their team wants to follow them; it’s not easy, but who said being a leader was easy?

by Dave Millner, Executive Consulting Partner, Workforce Science IBM

Inspiring Talent

In this issue of BC, we are looking at Inspiring Talent, and also at the role of Corporate Social Responsibility in the modern business world, and we have some fantastic example of Edinburgh companies and organisations doing great work across both of these themes.

Inspiring Talent is a subject close to the heart of Edinburgh Chamber. We work closely with our members, and our training and development programmes across a wide range of subjects are highly regarded and always sought after. Our Partners in

Enterprise include a number of organisations who excel in this area – such as Edinburgh College, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh Napier University and some of our major commercial partners. Our focus on developing talented individuals who will help grow and develop businesses for the city is such that we have created a group focused on this subject.

We are also delighted to look at what businesses and organisations are doing in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility. In that regard, the article from Diageo on their Learning for Life programme makes a fascinating read, as does the ambition held by our Lord Provost for his OneCity Trust, which the Chamber supports.

Finally, the Independence Referendum was resolved in a campaign that stimulated debate and political engagement at an unprecedented level. Regardless of the outcome we need to move forward to realise our growth ambitions, create more jobs, increase investment and ensure that Edinburgh and Scotland is open for business.

David Birerell, Chief Executive, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce

ECC Extra with Simon Wallis, Customer Service Manager for Transport for Edinburgh

Simon Wallis head shot

At the start of the month Simon Wallis present at our ‘60 Really Useful Minutes‘ series and he has kindly agreed to answer a few questions for us.

Outside of work, what has been your best customer service experience?

I can’t think of a specific example off the top of my head but I would have to say generally the company which gives the best overall customer experience for me (and I know this sounds clichéd) is John Lewis. You just know that whatever you buy from them is backed up by a knowledgeable sales team and first class service. If something goes wrong you can take it back with confidence and their on line experience is second to none. They can’t always compete on price (despite their pledge) but personally, I’d rather pay the extra and know I’ll get great service. There’s also something about the partnership ethos which is very sound and is something I try to replicate with my team at Transport for Edinburgh.

What has been your greatest challenge since joining Transport for Edinburgh?

Being honest, getting our back office system working. When I arrived there were a number of technical issues with our web form which meant inputting information was slow. This was at the same time as we had increased volumes due to a very busy summer so it was double the pressure. We did manage it though thanks to the commitment and stamina of my fantastic team.

Do you think social media can/will every replace call to call services?

No, just as microwave ovens haven’t replaced conventional ones. I think social media is an important part of the communication mix which we must absolutely embrace but I don’t think it will replace the main methods of communication for many years. It will grow and develop though and our challenge is to try and always be one step ahead.

During your 60 Really Useful Minutes you mention that the key to great customer service is by starting with your staff, what are your top leadership skills?

You should really ask my team that question! But I would say empathic listening and trust. I truly believe in the knowledge worker age and that our people have a volcano of talent and knowledge inside them just waiting to erupt. Our job as leaders, I feel, is to harness, nurture and release that talent. That’s where staff engagement comes from and is also the birthplace of great customer service.

What do you think makes Edinburgh such a great city?

Two things in the main; unquestionably its people and the stunning architecture/history. I received the warmest of welcomes when I arrived and almost everywhere I go I get a naturally warm welcome. It’s a city I feel very proud to now call home.

How to develop a content marketing strategy by Ann Rob

In the 90s, Bill Gates predicted the importance of content marketing in his essay ‘Content is King’, saying: “Those who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products – a marketplace of content.”

If content wasn’t ‘King’ before is it now since the rollout of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm in 2013. The focus has shifted from jamming keywords into your content to writing copy that is compelling and useful to your audience.

What is Content Marketing?

Joe Pullizi first coined the phrase and in his book ‘Get Content, Get Customers’ in 2008 saying: “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action”.

A successful content marketing campaign establishes you as an expert and helps you build a long term relationship. It is not a hard sell but a slow burn; if you provide as much value as you can people are more likely to trust you and buy your product. To read the rest of this article follow this link

Condies Introduces a New Business Hero

It has been said that the key to life is in not spending time, but in investing it wisely.

Traditional accounting software has caused problems for our clients who have found that:

  • The data in the system isn’t up-to-date and neither is the software.
  • It only works on one computer and data bounces from place to place. For example, on a USB drive. This can impact on both security and reliability.
  • Only one person has user access. Key people can’t access financial and customer details.
  • It’s costly and complicated to keep backups (if done at all).
  • It’s expensive, difficult and time-consuming to upgrade the software.
  • Customer support is expensive and slow.

Condies believe that accounting software should make life easier; it shouldn’t be a chore to use and just because historically software could be tedious doesn’t mean it has to be that way going forward. Traditionally, it could suck up far too much of your business’ time, effort and resource.

Cloud accounting software can save your business time and money and that’s where Xero comes in…

What is the cloud?

Much has been written about the cloud, but what is it exactly?

Cloud computing is a means of storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of on your computer’s hard drive.  The cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet.

Internet banking is a prime example of this. Every time you access your banking data online, you’re using the cloud. The cloud is a platform to make data and software accessible online anytime, anywhere, from any device. Your hard drive is no longer the central hub.

Working in the cloud has many advantages but put simply, it gives you a better overview of your finances, and improves collaboration with your team – wherever you are and whoever you work with.

The cloud and accounting software is the perfect match

You can use cloud-based software from any device with an internet connection. Online accounting means small business owners stay connected to their data and their accountants.

The software can integrate with a whole ecosystem of add-ons. It’s scalable, cost-effective and easy to use.

Let Condies Be Your Guide

Condies work with clients throughout the set up process to tailor the Xero file to individual needs and ensure this is ready for use combined with hands on live initial training session with one of our Xero Certified Advisors.

Via online accounting software, Condies can collaborate effortlessly with you throughout the whole accounting process as we share instantaneous access to your current financial position through Xero.

Cloud computing has a number of fantastic benefits, especially when budgets are stretched:

  • No large upfront costs to buy software or hardware or maintenance costs for regular backups or servers.
  • Future-proof – no more software upgrades to buy and install.
  • Access your accounts and run your business anywhere, from John o’ Groats to Land’s End. Pinpoint exactly where you’re making and losing cash – before it’s too late.
  • As your accountant, Condies can log into your accounts throughout the year to make sure you’re on track.

To discuss your current accounting software and how Condies could help you to change your business, call 01383 721421 or contact

Don’t just take our word for it, for further case studies and Xero client testimonials click here:  or why not subscribe to trial Xero for free?

Higher profile is needed at home for food and drink sector

Tuesday 21 October 2014

We are rightly proud of the role that the food and drink business sector has on boosting exports and promoting Scotland abroad, but are we doing enough to exploit growth opportunities in our domestic market?

The variety and quality of our food and drink was not readily associated with Scotland several years ago, but this perception is changing and the opportunities for businesses are extensive.

In Scotland, visitors spend 20p in every pound on food and drink and with nearly four million visitors to Edinburgh over the last year; our capital city is growing in stature as a dining destination. With over 100 new bars, cafes and restaurants opening last year it is not surprising that Edinburgh is the most popular city break destination outside London. Over 80% of visitors think about food when choosing a destination.

The growing demand for traditional dishes, regional specialties and local produce provides excellent opportunities for suppliers across Scotland. Our local suppliers should continue to be supported with coordinated marketing opportunities, supply chain efficiencies, including manageable trading terms.

The development of business opportunities through social media channels is key, as is demonstrated in the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce training programmes where social media is by far the most popular series of training courses to develop new sales channels and brand profile. Creating more consumer choice for local produce in our grocery retail outlets needs to be developed further.

As major grocery retailers and discount chains develop on our high streets, we must ensure that they strike the right balance between internationally sourced products and those from local suppliers.

More needs to be done to encourage more shelf presence of local brands, whilst respecting the need to have efficient supply chains and an acceptable consumer price. The role of the local trader is critical in the mix as is the growing trends towards farmers’ markets.

We must also continue to invest in our talent to ensure the quality matches the best internationally. Customer service expectations will continue to grow, whether it is one of Edinburgh’s five Michelin starred restaurants, or those attending Edinburgh’s Festivals, who spend over £37m on eating and drinking. Close collaboration with the education sector is key and across Edinburgh there continues to be market leading partnerships with all levels of education, nurturing both new talent and developing new skills for those already in employment.

Let’s make sure that the growing strength of Scotland’s outstanding larder overseas is equalled at home. We must ensure that with even closer working together between major brands, local businesses and education that we reach the hearts, and of course appetites, of both our local consumers and the ever increasing international visitors.

David Birrell, CEO at Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce

Onyx Group: The Latest I.T. Security Threats

Once again the news is awash with stories about new security vulnerabilities. This time we are faced with SandWorm and POODLE. One is a critical flaw in a key element of Microsoft Windows and the latter is a vulnerability in SSLv3.

The mainstream media, as usual, will do a great job of scaremongering, making these latest vulnerabilities appear to be the next batch of malware threats that will destroy your entire IT environment in an instant. But is that really the case? We have called upon some of our expert Security Consultants to delve into these topics, looking at the technical aspect of the threat, the level of danger you face and the steps you should be taking to minimise the risk.

For more information please follow the link: