5 Mins With ... Sarah Smith, Head of Migrations at ENSEK
What was it like when you started at ENSEK?
Four years ago, I had my first meeting with ENSEK. At the time, it was a small tech company in Nottingham that had recently started offering Software as a Service (SaaS) to new entrant energy suppliers. I was drawn by the opportunity to work with exciting new market entrants, whom I had heard much about, but not been able to work with. As a Management Consultant, I had spent my career supporting large retailers through customer service change programmes. I made the leap to technology and I love it.
How has the market changed since?
The energy market in the UK has gone through a huge transformation. The new entrants, who have survived, haven’t just shaken up the industry through innovative products and customer service - their reliance on SaaS providers, such as ENSEK, has shown how effective and efficient front and back-office functions can be. The biggest players in the UK and globally are looking to move to cloud-based SaaS providers to remain competitive. The last four years has kicked off a digital transformation across the UK energy sector, and it has been thrilling to be a part of that.
How do you encourage women to take up more tech roles?
As ENSEK has grown, I have also been able to influence some of the decisions we have taken around inclusion. As a working parent, I am passionate about ensuring that the most talented remain in the workforce and are given opportunities to grow and further their careers, regardless of their backgrounds or caring commitments. We have improved our maternity policy and now have best-in-class packages for parents, and challenge our leadership to think about how to improve talent retention, flexibility for all staff, and how to remove unconscious bias from decision making. Culture is a key focus for us as we grow and operate remotely through COVID.
Many businesses might still struggle with creating a supportive place of work for women, particularly mothers. There are tendencies, often unconscious ones, to put more pressure on women to do the ‘glue work’ and greater expectations regarding performance with a lack of understanding of potential family responsibilities. This is a particular concern for parents who are currently home-schooling. We have a collective responsibility to ensure that ‘flexibility’ doesn’t become another word for ‘burn-out’ as parents teach their children during the day and catch up through the night. All employers need to look for innovative solutions to maintain a happy, healthy workforce.
How do you think barriers can be overcome?
Supporting diversity of thought and approach, listening to opinions, ignoring how people look and sound, and paying attention to what they have to say is one way to start – businesses should recruit for ‘add’ rather than ‘fit’. This could be manifested by coaching and mentoring by leadership. These are great to offer all employees and, when done well, can work both ways as it helps leaders to understand the barriers and challenges faced by junior staff, particularly women and the BAME community.
Furthermore, organisations need to offer shared parental leave and encourage all parents to take it – equality at work does not happen until there is equality at home. In addition, there needs to be increased support with back to work schemes for women in technology, who have taken time out to have children. The pace of change in technology is fast and even after a few years out, a return can seem daunting.
Does the pandemic offer a fresh start?
Many businesses and organisations could benefit from rethinking socials and networking events. Although it is in our best interest to meet with like-minded people and build better working relationships, many workers struggle to attend. Luckily, the recent mass move to largely digital communication can help leaders come up with more innovative ways to network virtually.
Although the discussion around women in tech has been on the agenda for a few years now, I believe there is still a lot we can all do to encourage more female leaders and employees. If we want to achieve truly diverse and excelling workforces, we have to embark on this challenging but satisfying journey.
Airswift Competentia merger spurs global digital recruitment
Airswift and recruiting and workforce management specialist Competentia have merged to form one of the world’s foremost workforce solutions providers serving the energy, process, infrastructure, mining and technology industries.
The combined entity, which retains the Airswift name, will offer clients enhanced global access, particularly in the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and Africa. Competentia recently opened an office in Texas, complementing Calgary, Anchorage and Houston in the region.
Airswift chief executive, Janette Marx, will be CEO of the merged entity and Competentia Group CEO, Jayden Wallis, will play a key role on the executive team as Chief Marketing Officer and SVP of ASPAC. Kyle McClure will become CFO of the combined company.
Marx said there had been a long been mutual admiration between both companies, which share a mutual ambition to become the workforce solutions provider of choice for clients, candidates and contractors in the energy and technology industries.
“In a rapidly digitizing, post-pandemic environment, companies across the world’s technical sectors must quickly respond to new ways of working to achieve sustainable, long-term growth," she said. "We believe that our combined size and experience, and our firm focus on the energy transition, perfectly positions us to help clients respond to the complex workforce challenges of the future. Through digital and people-based solutions, we will ultimately shape the technical sectors of tomorrow.”
As a result of the merger, mid-market and blue-chip companies alike gain access to an even broader range of truly integrated services. Talent acquisition, professional search, international contractor management, global employment outsourcing, consultancy and payroll management are just a few of the workforce solutions on offer.
Wallis added: “We see this as an opportunity to create the world’s most forward-thinking workforce solutions provider.
“We also believe we have a key, supporting role to play in enabling the energy transition, not only in the industries we serve, but through responsible business operations, business models, investment in technology and innovation, and collaboration with our peers. Our combined strength and shared ambition mean we’re even better placed to deliver on that.”
Ian Langley, Airswift’s Chairman, said: “It was obvious from our opening call that a potential merger had great merit. Not only did our combination make perfect commercial sense, but we found that our organizations had similar cultures and aspirations, and we quickly discovered a unique alignment.”
Airswift and Competentia’s private equity backers, Wellspring Capital and Reiten & Company respectively, are retaining their stakes in the merged entity and will continue to be actively involved with the business. Airswift has also issued a bond on the Norwegian bond market to ensure maximum flexibility and access to alternative funding in the future.
Matthew Harrison, Managing Partner at Wellspring Capital, said: “Airswift and Competentia share the same foundational values and are guided by both delivering excellence to their clients and creating a great employee experience. Together they can do this even better, and I look forward to seeing the new merged company do great things.”
Bård Ingerø, Managing Partner at Reiten & Co concludes: “These are two companies with such similar cultures and successful track records, which we believe will fit together seamlessly to offer the market the greatest possible breadth, depth and quality of services, wherever clients may operate.”
Patrick Tame, CEO of Beringer Tame, says only agile and digitally savvy businesses have survived the storm from the pandemic, and will continue to do.
“The battle to keep ahead in an environment of rapid technological, market and consumer behaviour changes has caused businesses to rush to hire digital talent that has enabled them to shift the way they operate," he writes.
"When there are skill shortages in a particular sector - such as the digital market - hiring the best, before the competition, can make a real difference when it comes down to overall business success. So the businesses that are privy to a team of consultants who boast priceless depth of industry knowledge and mastery are guaranteed to have a competitive edge."