Exactly one month after he hit the ground running, I was lucky to get five minutes with the man of the moment, our new Sales & Marketing Director, Raffael Fernandes.
The guy who cut his teeth in the industry on the other side of the world before making his way back to London in the most unconventional manner (!). We’re very lucky to have Raff (as he’s known) join us at 101 Ways as we expand our service offerings across Europe.
So what do we make of the outdoor-baking, yoga-pose-holding, former Aussie resident? Find out below…
Hi Raff, welcome to 101 Ways. Tell us about your role as Director of Sales and Marketing?
It’s a broad and really exciting role. Essentially I’m responsible for helping develop and support many of the people, practices and strategies that will enable this next chapter of growth for 101 Ways, through pro-actively creating demand for our services.
The role is both very hands-on and strategic. I’ll be working closely with our experienced team of Client Partners, Content Managers and our fantastic customers. I love the variety, the buzz of being out in the market and the ability to make a difference in various ways.
You’re joining the team during a period of growth, how do you see yourself driving things forward and shaping the team?
I feel privileged to be joining what is already a very knowledgeable, experienced and genuinely humble team. In terms of helping drive 101 Ways forward and capitalise on the current successes, for me, it’s about encouraging people to focus on playing to their innate strengths and passions, inspiring a collective vision and spirit of adventure.
Then we need to collaborate and find creative ways to mould personal career motivations into a pragmatic business strategy where everyone supports each other’s goals and success.
So, what drew you to 101 Ways in the first place?
The company has a great back story. It’s been a phenomenal growth journey and one that is somewhat unconventional in today’s marketplace where the norm for many other businesses seems to be growth at all costs.
I loved the fact 101Ways has stayed true to its principles and is more concerned with doing what is right for our people and clients. There was great chemistry with everyone I met from the business, and I was intrigued by the ambition the team shared. Ultimately, I jumped at the opportunity to contribute to something special that is going to stand the test of time.
You spent a number of years in Australia working in similar roles scaling businesses and leading high-performing commercial teams. What did you learn from being in a new, unfamiliar environment and how did it shape your leadership style?
Great question! I experienced more than I could ever have hoped to by moving there. It was hands down one of the biggest learning curves of my life.
I didn’t know anyone when I first arrived, so having the courage to show vulnerability, take risks rather than be constricted by the fear of failure, and persevering even when things got tough, were three life lessons that definitely shaped me.
Which quote resonates with you most?
“Leadership is knowing when to walk in front, when to walk behind, and when to walk side by side”.
I love that notion because it beautifully sums up how great leaders possess strength, humility and empathy. They’re able to read and adapt to situations to help others flourish. Becoming a dad (for the second time last year), also helped me see the wisdom in this quote because it’s true in life, not just business.
How do you see your part in pushing 101 Ways forward and becoming the most sought-after tech consultancy in Europe?
I am a big believer in people, and in the power of belief. People and teams are able to achieve outlandish things – that seem virtually impossible from the outside – if the right ingredients are in place. I’ve been lucky enough to witness that first hand. I’ve also witnessed epic failures when on paper success seems guaranteed!
Being the most sought-after tech consultancy in Europe will come as a result of doing hundreds of little things well (there are no short-cuts or silver bullets!) and by staying true to the same principles and values that got us to where we are today.
Fundamentally, my part in all that will be helping support our clients and our people to achieve great things.
We’re big on communities; what’s your experience of them and how do you see them as integral to not only business growth, but to improving the tech industry as a whole?
For 12 years, I worked with global B2B media services and events businesses, (including in roles as a publisher) both in the UK and in Australia. So our primary purpose was to build, engage and create communities that allowed peers to network, and exchange ideas.
Tech is about constantly innovating, challenging the status quo and harnessing the power of vast networks in order to bring the best ideas to life. If there is any industry tailor-made for communities, I think Tech has a good shout for being right up there!
Tell us a fun fact that no-one knows about you?
I took the train back home to London when I finally left Australia in 2015! It was an epic journey on the Trans-Siberian railway which lasted for three weeks, spanned nine time zones and travelled over 7,000 miles. The only delayed train on the entire journey was Waterloo to Richmond…at that point, I knew I was truly home!
What drives you to keep doing what you’re doing?
I’ve always loved meeting new people, sharing ideas and trying to solve problems from different angles. While I didn’t wake up one day when I was seven-years-old thinking “I want to be in sales and marketing when I grow up”, in some respects perhaps it was inevitable I would be drawn to an industry / roles that feature many of those things.
Above all, I want to feel a sense of purpose and that I am going on a journey with a business. I’d love to be able to look back one day and say, “That was a really fun period of my life working with 101 Ways”.
What do you like to do in your spare time to forget about work?
Spare time, what’s that?! [Laughs]
My sons, Max (4) and Sebastian (1) have me running in rings most hours of the day – but it’s great fun.
Aside from that, I love travel, football, music, yoga, eating out and cooking. I’m very excited about the prospect of finally building a wood-fired oven in my garden this summer. It’s been a pipe dream for many years!
What do you think the challenges are going to be, both in your role and the wider industry?
Well, IR35 is the topic on everyone’s lips at the moment; undoubtedly there’ll be disruption, but also some new opportunities for businesses that come as a result of the changes. Thankfully, 101Ways is well-placed to help companies avoid this issue and mitigate risk.
There’ll always be demand for highly skilled tech talent in an increasingly digitised world. As such, I think some of the major industry challenges will be around identification and retention of the most specialised talent, and being highly adaptable and responsive to change as an organisation in order to stay competitive
Improving inclusivity and diversity within the tech industry is an ongoing challenge and one that we want to help with. What is your experience of initiatives that have worked well (or otherwise!) to support this?
There’s no easy answer to this, and there are no shortcuts. I see a lot of companies investing in top-down approaches for tackling inclusivity and diversity challenges. They can drive compliance, but not necessarily commitment or real change.
One of the most effective inclusivity initiatives I’ve been part of was mixed-group sessions where people shared personal experiences of times they felt excluded, shamed or interrupted. Everyone tuned in to what it felt like when that happened and how it affected us in the days following. Bringing that sense of feeling and empathy into a group environment made it feel real and gave people a sense of responsibility and accountability for the culture they were creating and perpetuating.
In three words, tell me why you’re a good fit for 101 Ways?
Approachable, curious, energetic
If you could invent any app, what would it be?
Some kind of online marketplace that allows people to create popup neighbourhood supper clubs in their houses would be quite cool!
Finally, what is the one piece of advice that you wish you’d been told / would pass on to those considering a career in tech?
Dream big, believe in yourself and never stop learning!
If you’d like to know more about how partnering with you can help your business grow and thrive, get in touch with Raff here.
Welcome to the second in our new series, ‘in the zone’, a collection of conversations with CTO’s within the CTO Zone community. Each week we’ll be discussing the latest trends, insights gained from there experiences, and future predictions for their industry. This week we’d like to welcome Marcin Zasepa, CTO at Homegate AG in Switzerland. Every episode will be approximately 30 minutes