Inecke Snyder-Lourens works as director of professional services at Cognifide, the WPP digital technology consultancy, leading a team of 39(!), the biggest specialist team of its kind in London.
Her background lies in advising large organisations in business process re-engineering, IT strategy, operating models, cost analysis and business change.
So, let’s find out more about what Snyder-Lourens does every day…
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Inecke Snyder-Lourens: Director of professional services. I manage a global team of brilliant digital advisors, analysts and architects all working on client programmes.
I occasionally work on client programmes supporting the delivery of the solution, by managing certain aspects of the programme. I work closely with our sales and client account teams to review all upcoming and current projects to ensure we are delivering a combination of services that meet the client’s needs. Finally I work with the team to ensure our service offerings stay abreast with the fast moving digital market.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
ISL: I report to the COO, and sit on our exco team, however due to the nature of the professional services team I work very closely with the CTO, CFO and our engineering team
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
ISL: I need both empathy and assertiveness, as well as technical and leadership skills.
Understanding the client, and then packaging the service and the people together to deliver the optimal services as part of the overall solution, requires a broad set of skills and general knowledge of a number of industries. Programme work requires more technical, delivery focused skills, also encompassing generic management skills. Understanding the client’s challenges and specific problems requires good communications and empathy.
Communication and interpersonal skill is a large aspect to my job as the team contains a large diversity of skills and experience. Managing the team is also about empowering the team to utilise their own known (and sometimes unknown!) skills and identifying where there are knowledge gaps, and to up-skill.
Tell us about your typical working day…
ISL: There’s no such thing! Getting up at 6.00am is probably the most consistent thing about my day.
I get involved in a wide array of different activities, from liaising with other Wunderman teams around the balancing of resources across projects, writing proposals for new work, managing project stakeholders, or seeking improvements in ways of working, liaising with the engineering team, catching up with individual staff members for career discussions, recruiting and training up new graduates to just taking time to read to keep up with industry developments.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
ISL: My job is varied and interesting and my team and colleagues are all very focused on doing a fantastic job. Being part of the WPP group offers many opportunities to engage with a range of clients on large and challenging projects that allows our unique problem solving capabilities to shine. Our continued growth lends itself to continually improving our delivery, which is an exciting stage to be in. There is a load of fun and enjoyment around the office, which makes it easy to get on with the tasks at hand.
I love most aspects of my job, it can be very busy at times and keeping the energy high and the teams motivated can occasionally be challenging. The best part is being able to set the pace – but it can also be the most tiring!
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
ISL: Customer satisfaction is the most important external measurement for everyone. If we are providing the right solutions to our customers, their digital business will develop and progress, and they will keep coming back with more interesting problems for us to solve. The financials are always in the mix, which is largely underpinned by employee satisfaction. Being an employer of choice that has high performing teams that relish the challenges and feel valued ultimately leads back to satisfied customers.
Team utilisation provides a reasonable indication of having the correct mix of services and skills
What are your favourite tools to help you get the job done?
ISL: Communications tools are at the top of the list. We use specialist tools such as Azure and also the more general tools such as slack, hangouts, Skype for business and mail.
We use Confluence for our knowledge database and Jira to manage our agile project delivery.
How did you land in this role, and where might you go from here?
ISL: This role found me. I was working in the insurance business on a CMS implementation project where Cognifide was selected as the implementation partner. Following the successful delivery of the project Cognifide asked if I would be interested in joining the team, and building up a Digital Analyst Team.
It felt like coming home after a long period away. I knew almost everyone and it was such a passionate yet friendly environment to work in. Over the past few years the team has expanded into Professional Services with much further growth still to come. I am not looking to move on at this stage, there are still far too many untapped opportunities, and with the fast pace of the digital world, ever more opportunities will pop up.
Who is combining tech and strategy well at the moment?
ISL: I think there are a number of different companies doing well. Organisations still value the strategic direction the big names provide as they cover vast amount of trends and data to support the suggested strategy. However these seldom translate directly into something which can be dropped directly into the business and this is where organisations are looking to smaller, nimble niche tech companies to support the delivery.
The days of having large siloed in-house IT teams controlling all technology are fading fast. The new era is focussed on disrupting the status quo in order to achieve quick results closer to the business. This is where the smaller tech companies have an advantage, as they are less restricted and are able to work in more digitally orientated ways.
Do you have advice for anybody who wants to work in your field?
ISL: If you are interested in technology and digitally minded – that’s a good start! And then it comes down to your energy, ambition, skills and determination!