Sally BroganSally Brogan has over ten years’ experience, designing and building innovative, user-centric and data-led products as well as establishing and developing cross-functional teams. Her experience is predominantly in B2B SaaS products and she has a special interest in Data and Analytics.

Earlier this year she joined Wazoku to take on the role of Product Director. Wazoku’s mission is to help businesses change the world one idea at a time. Their tech platform enables clients to gather, review, develop, analyse and manage innovative ideas pooled from internal and external specialists and communities to solve problems, feed into strategy or improve business operations.

Sally spoke to Futureheads as part of our FFS series, a regular interview series where business and industry leaders share their insights and personal experience. Other articles in the series can be found here.

1. Tell us about the impact that Covid-19 and the lockdown measures have had on your business?

Wazoku is all about ideas and innovation and we’ve been fortunate to be able to help businesses adapt during this challenging time. Our clients have been harnessing our technology to reach out to both internal and external experts to solve current challenges – from how to work better at home to broader societal ideas to support the response to Covid-19.

As a business, we were already set up for remote working, with distributed teams and portable hardware and so have adapted well. We are also fortunate our Platform IdeaSpotlight is a versatile tool and has proved invaluable not only to our clients but in engaging our internal team during this pandemic.

What we’re really missing most is catching up after the weekend, chatting in the kitchen whilst making a tea, Friday drinks and those meetings that are just better face to face.

2. How have you adapted your operational and hiring practices?

Each employee is grappling with their own unique set of circumstances and so we’ve been conscious of providing support to match different needs, whether that’s through flexible hours to support childcare, creating regular touchpoints or highlighting our mental health packages. Like many organisations, we aren’t currently hiring but we’re keeping in tune with changes in approach to recruitment to take advantage of any lessons we can learn for the future.

3. What are your top tips for successfully managing a remote On-boarding process?

Seven new starters have been onboarded during lockdown, including myself. Our Operations Team responded quickly to make sure equipment was shipped out to homes ready for start dates, the onboarding programme moved online, so that newcomers could get up to speed quickly and there was a lot of emphases placed on regular communication across the team both in terms of work and on a social level. I’m still getting to know my team, most of which I haven’t yet met in person and I’ve had to adjust my approach to meet the demands of the current situation, but all things considered, it’s been surprisingly smooth.

4. Has this crisis made you look at your business differently or consider changes moving forwards?

Our Product strategy meant we were already expanding into the world of Open Innovation and the crisis has really served to reinforce our vision by highlighting the value of using the wisdom and skills of crowds to solve problems. In terms of day-to-day operations, it’s definitely demonstrated what can be achieved remotely and has shown how a truly distributed team could work – we’d certainly be more open to hiring across different locations.

5. What advice would you give to anyone in a similar position to you at the moment?

Keep calm and carry on. There’s no point second-guessing what may or may not happen, so I’ve found the best thing to do is take things as they come and be prepared to be flexible to meet the changing situation. Make sure communication is clear, confident and consistent and that business leaders remain approachable. Luckily, my experience as a Product Director in start-ups and scale-ups means this is almost second nature.

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