Having recently formed our new company, Elysian2, it was time to cement our mission statement and outline our purpose. Rather than just google a random word generator that could spit out the usual inspirational words, I spent a long time pondering the purpose of what we are setting out to achieve.
Elysian2 had been born from our skills, connection and extensive experience – and we launched right in the midst of COVID-19 shutdown! And yet, the time felt right, nonetheless.
After much thought, coffees (not Arabica unfortunately;) ) discussion with Cam and rewrites, our purpose started to form:
Of course, most businesses tend to have a purpose statement, but do they always adhere to the qualities that they purport in print? We can’t talk for others, but we can assure you we are determined to follow ours. Like all talk, only the future will prove this of course, but I want to share a story with you about what has helped form my purpose.
Story time: “I’m not here to empathise, I’m here to make money”
Some years ago, I worked for a consultancy as a Functional Consultant flying back and forth on a weekly basis to a regional client, where we were implementing Dynamics AX – the client/partner relationship wasn’t going so well, and I’d already butt heads with our management over some of their practices and lack of transparency with the client. I was also 4 months pregnant, on a business visa, and recovering from glandular fever – but still I gave it everything I had.
One day I was pulled into the CEO’s office as he wanted to talk to me about my performance – my utilisation was down that quarter. This was the first time I’d been in this situation, the combination of working on fixing non-billable issues for the client, combined with what mother-nature was throwing at me (and it was throwing a lot!), meant I wasn’t hitting targets.
I won’t play the misogyny/woman card – but geewiz, the things us pregnant people go through, mentally and physically – only a bloke with an exceptional EQ could imagine. As the conversation progressed, I soon realised another unspoken problem in his eyes was that I’m one of those consultants. The ones that do what they can to ensure customer success and empathise with the needs of the customer. The ones that don’t inflate their billable time, lest they fail to reach their 80% utilisation target. The frank ones that tell it like it is. It certainly wasn’t that I wasn’t a profitable consultant (I’m an ex-accountant, I like doing my sums ).
Basically, that didn’t matter to him, nor that the client was happy with my work – in his eyes, I’d have to change my ways, or else.
The final straw for me, came towards the end of the ‘talking to’ when I asked him “Do you have no empathy? Do you not feel any duty of care for your clients and employees?” and he replied,
“I’m not here to empathise, I’m here to make money”
That gut feeling you have about the consulting industry; that innate intuition you have about that Manager that says all the right things, but acts the opposite; that uneasy feeling you have sometimes when you walk into work – summarised in just 10 words.
I refused to be seen as a number, a metric on an Excel sheet, a walking dollar sign. I refused to compromise my values for their profit. I was servicing the client in the best way I could, and they were more than satisfied. In the end they really are the ones paying for my time right?
That day, I called his bluff – I resigned on the spot and walked out. Even though I’d have no job (and who would hire a pregnant woman?), I would probably lose my visa status, and might have to go back to the UK – there was no way I could work for someone like that, and there was no way I would compromise my values for anyone, ever again. Period. Maybe it was a ‘Don’t mess with Mamma Bear’ feeling from being pregnant, but it was a moment that truly changed me.
Don’t worry, the end of this story was a happy one – the client insisted I stay on the project, took over my visa sponsorship – and I went on to work for them directly for a couple more years. I had a little boy, took some months off in between and they kept my job for me. I went on to become an independent consultant and started my own business, which I loved.
I’m forever grateful to those clients – and it cemented in my mind, to always be of service to others: People above profits.
But a business needs to make profit to survive
Of course, and here are 5 things I have come to realise about that, particularly in the world of consulting:
It is a balancing act – but in the end, you make a choice and stick to it no matter what. Profit above all else; or People above Profit?
So what does it mean to put People above Profit?
I believe that if you do all these things, profit will come as a result of it.
Placing purpose and people ahead of profit can make business a little more challenging, and it might mean slower growth and/or lower profit margins – but it’s all relative. Compared to a vast majority of people globally, we are already in an extremely fortunate position just being in Australia, and that’s without considering the industry we work in. We can afford to put people above profits, and when people are provided with the support and tools they need, they will be passionate and will work to ensure the company’s and customer’s success.
At Elysian2 we truly are genuine in our care for others and our belief that our success will not be defined by how many billable hours we charged or money we made, but in the difference we made in the lives of our colleagues, our clients, and our community.
This purpose will be ours to carry forward into the future, and to get things started, I am excited to announce our first step towards putting people above profits in our partnership with B1G1 – who will help us in our mission to ensure that every person has the opportunity to achieve their greatest potential – with every opportunity, every engagement, every day.
B1G1 is a social enterprise and non-profit organisation with a mission to create a world full of giving. Unlike conventional giving models, B1G1 helps small- and medium-sized businesses achieve more social impact by embedding giving activities into everyday business operations.
Here are some examples of how every milestone, interaction or engagement with us at Elysian2, will make a difference:
Every Client Meeting we will:
Provide Access to ICT and Internet for a Student in Ethiopia for a week
Each LinkedIn follow we will:
Employ a Refugee Teacher to Provide Free Education in Malaysia for a day
Every Project Win we will:
Give Vocational Training to Human Trafficking Survivors in Nepal for a day
Every Project Go-Live we will:
Give Access to Digital Skills Training to Aboriginal Communities for a Year
This means that simply by meeting with us, you can also be part of our purpose journey and make a difference in someone’s life – how cool is that!
To find out more about B1G1 check out their websitewww.b1g1.com.
As well as our B1G1 partnership, we are also committed to supporting our non-profit clients locally, by providing special consulting and subscription rates – contact us to find out more.
We look forward to serving and giving with you!
Every opportunity, Every engagement, Every day.