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Founders Grit Podcast Featuring SkillGigs’ Brad Hill

Founders Grit by Gaper.IO is a business podcast diving into various topics around the today’s remote and hybrid work evolution. Earlier this summer they hosted Skillgigs Digital President Brad Hill, right before Brad joined SkillGigs. The theme here is how the industry has had to involve and accommodate fast moving changes as it relates to the increases of work from home and remote work statuses. It’s a quick listen, about ~14 min. Brads 25+ years of experience and critical focus on IT is a treat to listen too. And based on what he said at min 10:43, we’re glad he joined Skillgigs.


00:01hello everyone and welcome to another episode of founders great sponsored by Today we have Brad. Brad is a seasoned IT staffing consultant executive you know he’s been in the industry for more than 25 years now. Brad welcome to the show. 

00:20 thank you Mustafa happy to be here. 

Right can you in brief one minute share your 25 years of experience 

00:28 yeah sure I can probably put it down there in about 30 seconds. So you know I entered the industry about two and a half decades ago, really in the early stages of driving IT staffing services into the market. It morphed into working with some two of the largest global IT staffing companies in the world and their journey to provide more services around solutions. So I kind of spearheaded the integration of the connection between IT solutions and IT staffing over my career. During that time it obviously opened doors to be looking at the access to global talent and the marketplace around global talent as you can imagine dealing with IT staffing, recruiting and solutions. 

1:10 There was a time in the mid 2000s when we made major investments globally into investing in distributed captive centers which I got a lot of experience then in understanding remote work and then obviously we are here we’re at today where remote work is defining the future of work as we speak. It’s an interesting evolution that we’ve been under so that’s just a quick a few seconds on my last two and a half decades. 

01:37 All right, so how have you seen the industry evolve over these two and a half decades you know maybe you want to give/do you want to share a couple of examples? That would be interesting for you know, young founders you know just hanging out, okay? how did the industry look like 25 years back especially I’m also curious myself and how is it today. 

02:02 yeah so that’s a good question so I think you know, in the early days, you know, there were already large outsourcing organizations particularly originating out of India that was exporting talent – – into North America in the very early early days of the late 90s early 2000s. And you know whether we realized it or not, it was an introduction to remote work, distributed work particularly for outsourcing. And you know one of the big requirements at that time was that it was kind of a closed off distributed network of talent that didn’t really leverage video conferencing and other things that we’ve come to utilize today on a reg on a ready basis because the technology wasn’t there. So there was a demand to access great talent at a cost contained kind of structure but at the same time it was very distributed.

Work happened within the centers and work was distributed back to the investors that were utilizing those services to be able to support application development systems integration. And other types of elements of running a business from an IT perspective. And those were the early days. I think at the time, you know, people were very much supportive of accessing that global network of resources and the cost that came with them but there was skepticism that was also built into that as well. And you know a lot of times companies were a little bit hesitant to make that investment. They wanted to travel to these global centers and really get to know – touch and feel the talent that was there that was a big requirement in those early days.  

03:35 And so, if you were providing those services or they were investing those services there was a big commitment to stay highly connected. I think over the last two decades we saw several big events. We saw moving from off-prem, I mean moving to off-prem from on-prem, security and data centers when it came to moving more things to the cloud. We’ve had an evolution of cloud-based development through a global network. And then obviously making investments like I did in the US based centers to where talent would come to a US based center and still, work distributed and remotely, so we saw this kind of evolution of trust establish. But technology was lagging I think, to be able to connect it in a way that would be more universal. And that brings us tonight to where we’re at today to where the situation that we recently went through with covid, and the pandemic has accelerated both the cultural and operational support for remote work. But it’s also saw the advent of the technology that was in development to be pulled to the forefront and that technology was timed perfectly for us to deal with what we went through last year and that evolution again – –  it escalated and accelerated the demand for remote work the support for it and it changes the landscape of the way we think about production with our with resources that work predominantly off-premises. 

05:21 makes sense no that’s really, you know, really insightful. You know so my next question would be you know, in regards to managing remote teams across multiple time zones. You know so for a young startup founder, you know who’s in in that cycle of whirlpool you know, what top three pieces of advice would you give to them? 

05:50 so a couple of things. Look at that in two different spectrums. A number one – just the skill set of leadership to evolve to be able to manage remote teams even beyond the sector of IT is starting to become a requirement for all management and leadership. And that’s still on the forefront of teaching and providing that level of capability to new managers to do so. So that’s something evolving and is absolutely important I think for all future leaders but when you think about startups and you think about the leveraging ability to tap into this global network of talent a number one is because of the ability to access talent that brings some cost savings. Be number one. 

06:48 there’s a time zone compatibility that you’ve got to look for based off of your existing business model. You can apply a follow the sun structure you if you tag those in properly which I think is very very important and that’s something that I think every startup needs to kind of analyze based off of their current structure of their platform or their services. They’re looking to render as to what optimal time zone out there is compatible I think the other thing too I would suggest is you know there’s an understanding that the primary destination is Asia. I think that’s changed dramatically there are some in the last decade there has been the ability to expand into uh time zones that bring great talent and great cost capability into LATAM, into eastern Europe um into other parts of the world that typically, were really kind of thought secondly behind Asia and India. 

07:44 so that would be another element that I would encourage anyone to explore. And then lastly, you know, now that we’re living in a world to where the captive center is no longer kind of opaque if you will when it comes to communication and it comes to the ability to touch and feel and actually connect via the video conferencing platforms we have today; creating a culture and a sequence as well as a frequency around connecting in those areas. I think is going to be very valuable to build more interpersonal relationships with your talent that you have working globally through the video conferencing capabilities versus what do we had to leverage in the past 

08:30 makes sense makes sense. So my last two questions would be you know, like you’ve mentioned, that because of the pandemic many things have been fast track right. Do you think this remote culture is here to stay and it’s going to keep on growing?  

08:53 yeah so that’s a that’s a great question and one that I feel very strongly about I’ll open it up with just basically kind of an observation that I think that is important to recognize right now.  

09:04 And that the information age is beginning to in my opinion reverse the industrial age. The industrial age, 100 years ago, really created the industrial complex that we all work within which is very much on-premise structures from the office setting and the hierarchies that come with that. I think remote work is in the technology supporting remote work is reversing that trend and that trend is very positive. I think for the employers and for workers that can find something that’s beyond work-life balance. And what I would consider work-life harmony and the ability to be productive remote and flexible high-demand talent has high demands. And as now we’re seeing a world where that demand and that skill set is becoming more centered around the leverage that individual has. It’s more of a workers’ market than say an employer’s market and employers are having to adjust So, I think the future of work is hybrid.  

10:07 I think it’s based on conditions and skills that align well with the way an organization understands elements of their business that are optimal for remote work. Some that are optimal for pure on-prem and in some it’s optimal for more of a hybrid model. I think workers are now seeking more flexibility when it comes to jobs that they’re looking for. I think the next generation, the younger generation is going to enter the workforce with this as a standard not as something that’s an experiment which I think is going to be very very critical to think about as future employers begin to evaluate the way they want to attract and and retain talent.  

10:43 So they’ll have to adjust to get the best talent. I also see a rise in remote work platforms that are, will be created for what I would think is a large developing independent worker class that desires a work from anywhere lifestyle to balance. And leverage these work platforms to market their talents and by removing a lot of those middle layers that have been built between an employer seeking talent and talent seeking that employer. 

11:11 So, I think that’s a burgeoning part of the industry that’s promoting remote work and promoting lifestyle that I think is going to be a very very big part of the next generation of digital workforce that’s being developed today. 

11:29 Got it Brad. Last question. You know I really enjoyed the conversation but you know we’re kind of like time-bound by our mac team to restrict these podcasts but you know last question, in terms, in regards to you know your own personal productivity hacks you know, during COVID, you know with the lockdowns happening and everything. So what kind of like routine you adopted in your own life to help you go through the day yeah. 

11:56 that’s a good question. So you know again, I had been working somewhat remotely in my industry for a while so the shift to pure remote work wasn’t a big leap for me but you know a couple of necessities that I’ve always had that I think was important to me in working from home and working from a home office is to have a routine. 

12:16 that’s a starting point. And my routine started with time before my day to invest in myself whether it’s through a podcast whether it’s through other ways to prepare the day that I’m going to be having with a lot of screen time so that um you know I’ve kind of got the day started with you know something that’s about me. And something that I feel that puts me centered because I’m going to be giving a lot of myself throughout the day; through a lot of video conferencing. So I always definitely encourage someone to have a routine that’s broken up through the day that allows you to take a step back disconnect and reconnect with yourself.  

12:54 And I do that three times a day from the start of my day mid-day and then kind of because the close of my day. I think the other element is just really around the tech. Right? I think that it’s important these days to make good investments in the right type of web cameras the right type of audio devices. I love the Jabra’s products line that they have around – I think it’s kind of like their little disc that they use that connects it brings great audio in and get great feedback from that perspective as well.

13:24 so you know having good tech to get leverage that’s reliable I think is going to be very important for everybody to take an investment in. And you know I would say you get what you pay for. This is something that’s a part of your everyday life working remotely and um you definitely want to get the right technology in place to have a good experience for yourself and at the same time give a good experience to those that that you’d be you know interfacing with 

13:49 from that perspective, lastly I’d say you know I’m not a big fan of the digital backgrounds that come with a lot of the platforms out there. I think it’s fun, it’s creative to create a digital background, I think it’s important to be who you are at home and be authentic. And you know it’s okay and I think it’s awesome that the backdrop of your video conferencing tells a story about yourself. Whether it’s the types of books that you have, the types of things that you’re interested in obviously from family to and beyond, I think that humanizes the experience. 

14:25 working digitally through video Conferencing and I’d encourage people to do so you know and reveal a little bit about yourself. When it comes to the backgrounds that you provide that give a little bit insight in whoyou are and what makes you you. I think it creates a more human connection through this digital void that we work on through every day. 

14:48 So those are a few of my hacks there Mustafa. 

14:49 all right they’re interesting. 

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