This interview with Kevan Hall the CEO and founder of Global Integration, was undertaken in October 2010:
How did Global Integration come about?
I used to work within the HR function at Mars, which had expanded a lot, but there were no suppliers who could offer training worldwide on cultural differences, and what was available was often poorly taught. There was also nothing to help us cope with working in virtual teams and multiple locations. I had to develop the knowledge and skills for myself and the teams I was working in.
When I left in 1994, it was a natural progression to go on and share those skills – I believe we became first company to offer virtual teams training. Tony Poots, who I had previously worked with, and whose work I admire and respect, joined the company 18 months later. The rest, as they say, is history.
How did you grow the company?
Word spread fairly quickly, and we were very popular in the early days with technology companies, which typically were beginning work across many national borders. The technology boom helped, but we realised early on that we needed to reach out into other areas. Our training services appealed to both healthcare and banking customers, so we developed our expertise to be able to serve these sectors well. Today there are very few sectors that we haven’t served somewhere along the line.
We also listened hard to what people were saying – many of the people we were training were repeating the same problems, which were all around ‘my two bosses have conflicting interests’.Our training evolved to meet the needs of organizations faced with the issues that arise from stepping out from the old models of doing business:hierarchical, geographically limited, working in organizational silos.
What does your training look like today?
People have realised that there’s a name for these complex organizations – the matrix.
Individuals’ skills need to be very different, and because we work across sectors, countries, management levels, our work is very tailored to client needs. Our material could feed weeks of training, so we’re very careful to listen. We build exercises and facilitation around their specific requirements and the time they have available, focussing on the things that are going to deliver the highest impact to their businesses.
There are a lot of people out there nibbling at little bits of what we do, but I believe that we genuinely lead the way in training to resolve the root causes of difficulties in complex organizations (complexities of management) rather than the symptoms (feeling torn by having multiple bosses and work overload, impossible email management, and slow decision making, for example).
What will your training look like tomorrow?
We will keep listening to the people we’re training and aim to keep up with their needs.
We do, of course, have lots of ideas, so watch this space!
Kevan Hall is the CEO of Global Integration. He can be contacted as follows:
t: +44 (0)118 973 6282; e: Kevan at global-integration.com; Tw: @kevanhall