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September 7, 2022 | 25 Mins Read

Are You an Emotionally Strong Leader?

September 7, 2022 | 25 Mins Read

Are You an Emotionally Strong Leader?


Sarah welcomes to the podcast, Carolyn Stern, emotional intelligence and leadership development expert and author of the forthcoming book, The Emotionally Strong Leader: An Inside-Out Journey to Transformational Leadership. 

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today, we are going to be urging you to answer the questin, are you an emotionally strong leader? We're going to be talking about emotional intelligence and all sorts of related things. I'm excited to welcome to the podcast, Carolyn Stern. Carolyn is an emotional intelligence and leadership development expert and author of the forthcoming book, The Emotionally Strong Leader. She's developed self-coaching tools to help anyone grow their emotional intelligence and is going to talk with us a bit today about why that's important, and give you some tips on how to do so. So, Carolyn, welcome to the podcast.

Carolyn Stern: Thanks for having me, Sarah.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, absolutely! So before we dive in, tell our listeners a little bit more about yourself.

Carolyn Stern: So, as you said, I’m Carolyn Stern. A university professor, author, president and CEO of EI Experience, which is an emotional intelligence training company. We do a lot of emotional intelligence leadership development training for our clients. And now, soon to be author of The Emotionally Strong Leader: An Inside-Out Journey to Transformational Leadership, which comes out in September in Canada and October in the United States.

Sarah Nicastro: Awesome. Excellent. All right, so we're going to talk about some of the specific points, but before we do that, I'm just curious how you got your start in emotional intelligence. Where does your interest lie? Why are you super passionate about this topic? Tell us a little bit more about that.

Carolyn Stern: Yeah. Well, I was a very emotional child, and I don't know if any of your listeners out there can relate to that, but that was always deemed a bad thing in my family. Emotional expression was considered ... "Young kids should be seen and not heard," and so I really stuffed my emotions down, and my emotions really created havoc in my life. But just because I'm an emotional person doesn't mean that I'm weak. And I think as I became a coach and trainer for executives, I was sick and tired of hearing that people felt that emotions were a bad thing and that showing them made them weak. And I just felt that if we demonstrate vulnerability or speak our truth, telling others what really is going on for us internally, externally, I didn't think it was such a bad thing. I felt that leaders needed to learn this skill.

Carolyn Stern: As a university professor and someone who used to teach high school, and I'm also trained in primary education, I know we're not teaching in schools. So really, what I have seen over the last 25 years as a university professor is we teach these young people IQ, to raise their IQ, but we're not giving them an emotional education to raise their EQ. And so what happens is, as leaders, it's now your responsibility to figure out how to deal with people's emotions in the workplace. I think the pandemic really shined a light on how emotional we can be.

Carolyn Stern: And there is no light switch, Sarah, when you get into the office to turn your emotions on or off. We're human and humans are full of emotions. The problem for me, as a child, I just didn't know the strategies on how to be bigger than my emotions. That's what the whole book's about. It's about teaching people to learn, to be bigger and stronger, and that's why the book is called The Emotionally Strong Leader. You can still be emotional like me and feel things very deeply, and you can also have the mental skills to be bigger and stronger than your emotions.

Sarah Nicastro: Now, I think there's a category of people that would kind of think those terms contradict each other. If you're emotional, you're not strong. If you're strong, you're not emotional. So why do we need to change our thinking related to that?

Carolyn Stern: Well, being stronger than your emotions is not really strong- arming your feelings or having a steely resolve not to feel, right? It's simply being able to understand, acknowledge and accept that we feel things. And our emotions are full of data, Sarah. Just like an ad agency takes consumer behavior as data to make good strategic choices on how to encourage us to buy their products and services, it's the same thing with our emotions. Our emotions are full of a lot of data and they can give us good strategies on how to behave and communicate better. But a lot of the times, because we were told and hoodwinked in all these years to think that emotions were bad, we just pushed those down rather than saying, "Hey, I'm frustrated. That must mean there's some unmet expectations here," right? 

Carolyn Stern: And that's what frustration tells us, is there's unmet expectations. So what's going on in my life that I'm having some unmet expectations? And then, if someone is not meeting my expectations, then I can calmly and rationally tell you, "Hey, Sarah. When you did this, I felt this, and what I'd like you to do in the future is this." We can have calm conversations if we can take the data our emotions provide. And one of the two questions I ask all of my clients, and they're really simple questions, what are you feeling in this moment? So, Sarah, what are you feeling right now in this moment?

Sarah Nicastro: Well, probably a little bit stressed because I have so much to do today.

Carolyn Stern: Okay. Perfect.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Carolyn Stern: And then the second question I always ask is what is that feeling telling you about you?

Sarah Nicastro: That I over-scheduled myself.

Carolyn Stern: There you go.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Carolyn Stern: And so, what does that tell you to do? That gives you some strategies on what to do.

Sarah Nicastro: Right.

Carolyn Stern: As simple as those two questions are, and we pepper them throughout the book, I ask reader to constantly be reflecting on how we're feeling. Here's the challenge. In the workplace, you take time for lunch. You might take time to stretch. But how often do we take time to pay attention to our feelings? And right now, above my desk, I have an emotions poster. That emotions poster reminds me to check in with how I'm feeling throughout the day, and then asking myself ... And just because that I'm an emotional intelligence expert, I want to be really clear.

Carolyn Stern: I haven't mastered this. I don't think any of us ever mastered it. But more times than not, I am bigger than my feelings and I'm making rational choices. But there are days that my feelings rule me and they're in the driver's seat, versus me being in the driver's seat. But by slowing down, figuring out not only what am I feeling, why am I feeling what I'm feeling and what can I do about it, how can I respond a respectful and professional manner, that's really what EI is all about. It's being intelligent about our emotions.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Now, you mentioned the impact of the pandemic. Do you think that there is an evolution at play here where this is changing at work? I mean to me, it feels like even if you have leaders who didn't grow up in a situation like you did, made to feel bad about their emotions, even where that hasn't been the case, there has always been a very strict delineation. "You should leave that outside of work." And I think that has changed and is changing. I really like the point you made about emotions as data. What are they telling you? But I also think it's becoming a strength of leaders, in terms of being able to connect in different ways. Would you agree with that?

Carolyn Stern: Absolutely. Emotional intelligence isn't new. I mean, Daniel Goleman had made it popular in 1995 and it has been around since the early 1990s. The need for it is so much more important and, in fact, the World Economic Forum said it's one of the top 10 skills needed for the future of jobs. What the pandemic has done has shined a light on the fact that we are human, and we feel things because our feelings erupted. This was one of the biggest disruptions in most people's lives, and we could no longer stuff them down and leave them at the door, especially since many of us were working from home. People got to see all of the things that were balancing inside. It's interesting as an emotional intelligence company. 

Carolyn Stern: I started EI Experience in 2017, and when clients would call me, or when I would have to reach out to them, I had to convince them of, "Here's what emotional intelligence training is and here's why it's needed." Now, we're busier than ever. Leaders are calling us saying, "Oh my gosh, we need this," because think about it. Having been a university professor, we're not teaching this in schools, and the Gen-Zs and the Millennials are going to make up 65% of the market of the labor force by 2025. These younger generations aren't made up of the same makeup as I am, who's a Gen-X. I can't expect the younger generation to know what I know because they don't have those skills. So for instance, Gen-Zs. They are lower at independence, lower at problem-solving and lower at stress tolerance than any generation before them. Why? Because they grew up with these things. They have helicopter parents. In fact, I was interviewed by the Vancouver Sun right back in 2020, just as the pandemic was happening, and I was the one person saying there was a silver lining about the pandemic, in my opinion.

Carolyn Stern: Yes, I'm not discrediting all the lost jobs and the lost lives and all of the horribleness that the pandemic brought. But what it did bring is it enforced our younger generation to become emotionally resilient. Because guess what? Google didn't know how to live through a pandemic, nor did their parents. These young people had to learn, "Hey, I'm no longer in a classroom. I'm now at home. I've got to figure out how to learn in my own setting. I have to figure out how to manage my own stress. I have to figure out how to rely on my own opinions." And in my opinion, it's been a gift because it really has taught them to have more grit, soldier through the challenging times and persevere.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I like the word you said, appetite, because I think you're right that emotional intelligence isn't a new concept. The information's been around. People are aware of it. I think there's been sort of an increasing acceptance of the value it plays in leadership. But the appetite for it, I think, is what has changed and is changing, so that makes sense.

Carolyn Stern: Absolutely.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. So let's talk a little bit about some of the insights that you cover in the book. So first, you talk about five distinct areas of emotional intelligence. Can you tell us a little bit about each of those?

Carolyn Stern: Yeah, so it's based on the EQI 2.0 model by Multi Health Systems, and it basically says EI is broken up into five different categories. Self-perception, how do you see yourself? This is made up of how confident you are, how self-assured you are. Are you fulfilled in your life? Do you achieve your goals? Do you set goals? Are you aware of your emotions and the triggers in any given moment? And are you aware of when you're being triggered? The second composite scale, or area, is called self-expression. This is your communication skills. How do you express yourself and relate to people? Things that you might want to ask is do you constructively express how you feel? Do you stand up for yourself? If not, why not? Do you care too much about what people think? 

Carolyn Stern: And just a little bit about me, my lowest competency, just full disclosure, is independence, and people are always surprised by that because I run my own company. I'm not married. I'm financially independent. However, I grew up with a very over-protective, bless her heart, over-bearing mother, and she didn't let me make decisions for myself. So now, as a grown-up and as a leader, I worry about my decisions. I question myself a lot. I need a lot of reassurance. My staff always tell me I pay them to reassure me, which is probably true. And I'm sharing a little bit about me to let you know that we all have an upbringing. We all came from this. So when I ask how confident you are, are you confident or are you not so confident, or are you in the middle? In the book, we first do self-perception, which I just went through. We then do self-expression, which is all about how you communicate.

Carolyn Stern: The third one is interpersonal. How do you relate to people? This is your social skills, so this is things about how do you make connections? Are you good at making mutually-satisfying connections? Are you able to put yourself in somebody else's shoes? Do you have empathy? Are you able to give back and be helpful? These are questions that we ask the reader in the book to kind of assess. "Am I high? Am I in the middle? Or am I low?" And then in the book, we talk about the dark side. You can be too much of something. Think about self-regard, for instance. How many people, Sarah, do you know, how many leaders do you know, that have too much self-regard and that they can be a narcissist and have an inability to admit mistake? All of these competencies or skills, EI skills, relate to you need to figure out where your baseline is.

Carolyn Stern: The fourth area is decision making, and this is all about how do we make decisions when emotions are involved. So for instance, are you aware of your emotional state when making a decision? Do you let your emotions cloud your objectivity? Or even, do you let your impulses tempt you? Or do you delay gratification? And then the last one is stress management, which is all about how well do you cope and handle stress, the uncertainty of the world, and change? Things like, "How well do you adapt?" Think back to the pandemic, Sarah. Do you feel like you've adapted well to the change and uncertainty? Do you think you would say yes to that?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Yes. I mean, not without it taking a toll, but yeah.

Carolyn Stern: So, you've pivoted fairly well considering? Yeah. And then we ask things like, "How well do you cope with stress? Are you resilient during trying times? And also, do you remain hopeful about the future?" When we were listening, doom-scrolling, all the bad things happening, did you get suckered into that or do you have an optimistic outlook on life? Those are the five areas that we talk about in the book. We go into a deep dive and we get the reader to kind of really look at all 15 different skills because all of us have a different emotional makeup. And then the other piece that I just want to share quickly is sometimes, your areas of where you're high in and where you're low in can actually go against you. I'll give you an example. I told you I'm low in independence, but I'm really high in flexibility.

So as a leader, I flip-flop. I can't make stringent decisions. I tend to flip-flop my ideas. So when one employee asks me to do one thing, I say, "Okay, sure," and I get convinced to do that, and then another employee asks me to do another thing and I get convinced of that. And then the problem is because I worry about what people think, I want both employees to be happy. That's not a great combination, and that's the work I have to do. Sometimes, I have to be a little less flexible and say, "No, this is where I'm putting my foot down." And sometimes, I need to raise my independence and say, "I'm sorry you're upset with me, but here's my final decision." So that's my work, and in the book, what I get readers to do is really figure out what is their emotional work.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. It's really interesting. Now, I feel like I can guess the answer to this question, but I'm going to ask anyway, in case I'm wrong. Do you feel like there's one of those five areas that leaders typically struggle with most, or does it just depend completely on individual makeup?

Carolyn Stern: It really does depend on individual makeup. We all have genetic influence, right, and we all have environmental influences, but here's the good news. Anyone can learn and develop and enhance their EI skills in order to increase their leadership potential. Less and less leaders are actually not seeing a need for this because the problem is we tend to deal with all the disrespectful behaviors or unprofessional communications stemming from the emotional issues. And I think leaders are now realizing, "Wow, I got to get to the heart of the matter. Rather than just dealing, putting a bandaid on the inappropriate behaviors of this employee, I got to figure out why they're doing what they're doing." And a big part of the book is I actually talk about, "Learn your why. Why do?"

Carolyn Stern: Once I figured out that I had an overbearing mother and that that's why I didn't learn independence, rather than blaming her, because we talk a lot about in the book ... Rather than me pointing a finger and saying, "Mom, you're the problem," no. Three fingers point back at me. I just didn't learn those skills, so it's now my responsibility as a human to learn how to stand on my own two feet, how to be more self-directed how to not care so much about what people think, and it's not easy. The strategies we give in the book are quite simple, but it's not always easy.

Sarah Nicastro: Right, so on that point. In the book, you walk through these five areas and you dig into each of them, and then you talk about a variety of ways that people can foster their EI skills. Give us a couple examples of what that looks like.

Carolyn Stern: I'd say one of the big things that I think I have to teach leaders is, really, to do what I just told you to do, which is to do an emotional check-in, right? "How am I feeling?" But our emotional vocabulary is very small. There are thousands of emotions out there, but I would ask you, "Write down the ones that are on top of your mind." Probably, you could maybe write down five or 10, but there are thousands, and the nuances between. So for instance, I can feel happy. The level of intensity of happiness can go from elated to content. Which one am I? So really understanding the level of intensity of our emotions. Figuring out how I'm feeling, where that feeling comes from, what triggered that feeling, why I am the way I am. Then, I can be more conscious of my choices. 

Carolyn Stern: So one of the activities I give all my clients is to take a sheet of paper and split it down four ways. The first is, "Name the emotion," so put the emotion of what you're feeling. The second is, "Write down the trigger." What triggered that feeling? Now, I want you to create space. I want you to take a pause and say, "Okay, I have two ways," and I always get them to write it down. "What's a highly emotional intelligent response and a low EQ response? What would a high emotional intelligent response person do, and what would a low emotional intelligence response person do? And by creating space, they can say, "Okay. Well, here's something that I could do. I could talk to someone calmly or I could yell." Well, that's the response. The third column is response. The fourth column is impact. So if I have a calm conversation with you, what's the impact that that's going to leave? If I yell at you-

Sarah Nicastro: Right.

Carolyn Stern: What's the impact that's going to leave? That then gives them a roadmap of how to deal with those emotions. But they first have to figure out what triggered it, what are they feeling, and why? That's one of the big ones I get asked. The other one I think I get asked a lot about is empathy. Empathy is feeling with someone. Sympathy is feeling for someone. Really, there are three kinds of empathy. There is cognitive empathy, which is perspective taking. I can imagine what you are thinking and put myself into your thinking mind. There's perspective, empathy, which is, "I can feel your pain." And then compassionate empathy is, "I can feel your pain and I want to help." Now, some people who have low empathy, I have to teach them ways to become more empathetic. That might be to really listen to people, rather than just to hear them, to really listen to what they're saying.

Carolyn Stern: For people that have too much empathy, that get enmeshed in people's stuff and carry the emotional burdens on their shoulders, that's a different emotional intelligence strategy. That would be, "Set up some boundaries." So, when you're telling me your problem, Sarah, rather than me having your emotional problem be put on my shoulders, I can then say to you, "Okay. How are you feeling, Sarah? What can you do about it?" I can coach you through your problem. I can still have compassion for you, but I don't have to go home at night and solve your problems for you and carry the emotional weight on my shoulders. You can have compassion and boundaries at the same time as a leader. A lot of times I have leaders who either have no empathy and I have to teach them how to raise their empathy, or I have leaders that have too much empathy and they need to lower their empathy.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. One of the things I wanted to ask about, too, actually, is taking time to rest, the importance of that, and avoiding the word "but." So how do those factor in to fostering emotional intelligence?

Carolyn Stern: Well, taking time to rest and reflect, right? I am not good at this, I will be honest. In fact, I just wrote a blog about it. I just went on my first weekend vacation in five years. We grew up with this hustle culture, right? The more productive we are, the more successful we'll become, and I swallowed that pill and I believed in that. And by taking time to rest and really reflect, I think so much of this society ... We're on our phones all the time. We're looking at other people's ideas. The media's always amongst us. We're listening to other people's idea. How often do we spend time journaling? How often do we spend time just in our inner thoughts? I mean, science shows walking in nature calms our ruminating thoughts. So just spending time to rest and reflect will really calm your parasympathetic nervous system. In terms of the avoiding the word "but," "but" negates everything before it.

Carolyn Stern: So for instance, "I love you, but I'm moving out." Do you love me? So I teach people some communication methods and one of them is, "I love you and I'm moving out." Or even at work, if you want to use a work example, what happens when you're asked to do something, another task on your to-do list? Someone's making their objective as important as yours. You can say "Yes and" rather than "Yes but." So, "Yes I'm happy to take on that project, and the project you gave me, project B, will have to wait till Monday. Is that all right?" So rather than saying "Yes but," which negates everything before, you can say "Yes and," and negotiate. You can also say, "Yes, I'm so glad you thought of me, and right now I don't have the bandwidth." Now your boss might not be happy that you have set up a boundary and said, "I can't do it," but your boss will respect you for taking care, to be realistic of what you can accomplish and what you can't accomplish.

Sarah Nicastro: Right. Yeah. No, that makes sense. So how would you describe what leading with emotional intelligence looks like?

Carolyn Stern: Well, people with high EI just have more self-awareness. They're able to control their actions. They have more empathy for others. They like to build healthier relationships. They admit publicly when they make a mistake. They ask for input. They give specific praise, but also specific constructive feedback to their team so that they can grow. They know how to build good relationships. We still get stressed if we're highly emotionally intelligent, but they come from it with a growth mindset, seeing that every opportunity or challenges is an opportunity for them to grow. They articulate how they're feeling. They're open about how they're feeling. And here's what they're not. They're not stoic, which is what you described at the beginning of this podcast. They don't pretend to put on this fake persona, and people don't follow that, right? We can read through that when we know what people are feeling, but it's really they think they can share how they're feeling authentically so that people really want to follow them because they're relatable, not perfect. No one wants to follow perfection.

Carolyn Stern: And the other thing is they know how to set boundaries, especially when the lines are blurred between home and work. They're also able to use their emotions as data, as I said, to make really good, rational decisions. They're brave to share and to talk about, "Hey, I'm uncertain about what's going to happen," especially when emotions are heightened. And most importantly, they check in with their team. Here's the biggest thing that I get asked by executives. You do not need to be a therapist or a financial advisor or a lawyer for any one of your employees' problems. All you have to do is listen and coach them. Coach them means ... and we've developed a coaching with emotional intelligence model, but coaching others is really about asking them questions so that they figure out the answers, so you don't have to be the problem-solving hero, right?

Carolyn Stern: They also know how to adapt in changing times. They also know how to have a positive outlook, even when things look gloomy. So there's lots of things that an emotionally intelligent leader looks like and sounds like, but it's really, I think, about being brave and open about their own emotions, and that's why I wrote the book the way I wrote it. The book is an inside-out journey. You've got to figure out yourself first, your own emotional makeup first, before you can lead others. So once I knew that I lacked independence, guess what? I hired really independent people.

Carolyn Stern: Why? Because they become my competency advisors. They become my advisors in my company. When I'm struggling with what people are thinking about me, I can pick up the phone and call my competency advisor who's, by the way, my business development manager who's half my age. But I ask her for help because she's really strong in independence. So knowing your emotional makeup helps you know, "Who do I put on my team can help me be the best leader?" My second book, which I hope I will write, will all be about, "Now once you know yourself and how to lead, how do you lead others?"

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I think you mentioned authenticity and, to me, that seems like such an important part of this because I think the growth stems from that. And also, I think the perception of you as a leader and how your emotional intelligence connects, I think, has so much to do with authenticity. Are you doing the work, to your point, to figure yourself out and leverage that best to connect with others, or are you kind of faking it? I think people can see right through it.

Carolyn Stern: Absolutely, and think about it. How you feel affects how you perform. I think you just said earlier, you're stressed. If you carry that stress throughout the day, how good is your work going to be today?

Sarah Nicastro: Right.

Carolyn Stern: Now, again, we're not all going to have great days. I've had bad days, too. So how do I work through my stress? How do I first stop everything and go, "Okay, how can I calm myself down and be less stressed?" But the other thing is, you said it best, people are engaged at work if they feel connected to you and the team, appreciated for their efforts, and fulfilled in the job. Three questions I ask every employee, and I recommend your listeners ask all of their employees, is these three questions. What do you need to feel connected to me and the team? What do you need to feel appreciated for your efforts? And what do you need to feel fulfilled in your role? And then, shut up and listen because guess what? That's going to give you a roadmap on how to lead them.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Carolyn Stern: That's getting inside what works for them and fills their bucket so that you, as a leader, can give back to them in a way that will resonate with them.

Sarah Nicastro: Right.

Carolyn Stern: But every person is different. You might to feel connected to me. You might need to talk to me once a day. Another employee might need to talk to me once a week. To feel appreciated, you might want me to spend time with you. Another employee might just want a gift card. To feel fulfilled in your role, you might just want challenging assignments, whereas another employee wants to take a course. All of that is going to give you a lot of data on, "How do I keep people engaged and fulfilled and connected to me in the workplace?"

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. No, I think it's all really good input and it's all super interesting, too. I was just thinking as you were saying that. I think the art of listening cannot be overemphasized, first and foremost, but I was also thinking about how if you ask those questions, how many people are going to feel they can share openly, and how is that reflective on your leadership, right? It goes back to the point of people can be in leadership positions, but we're all human and people want to feel connected on a human level. So it goes back to kind of what we said earlier, which is there's more appetite for leaders to be more of themselves at work, instead of just that stoic reserve, robotic. "Okay. What do you need to feel fulfilled?"

Sarah Nicastro: I mean, depending on the tone in which that question's asked and/or the way that leader conducts themself, that's going to dictate what level of openness you get in the response. So it's just interesting how it's all tied together, right? Because are you modeling the type of self-awareness and openness and communication that you ultimately want your employees to feel comfortable bringing to you, so that you can get good data when you ask those questions, instead of having them feel they need to be closed off because you're closed off, or what have you?

Carolyn Stern: Well, it's interesting because when I was writing the book, I started writing a book on emotional intelligence and leading with emotional intelligence, and how to lead people and how to get them more engaged. And then halfway through the book, I've written half the book, I stopped because I said, "You know what? I've written the wrong book first." The first book needs to be how as you, as a leader, how can you learn what your emotional makeup is? How can you be brave to talk about your feelings so that no longer are others experiencing you as a leader solely through your outward behavior, but rather they're experiencing you on a deeper connection from underneath the surface.

Carolyn Stern: And exactly what you're saying, when that kind of genuine connection happens, others feel seen and heard. You feel cared for and valued. And in a work setting, that's what's going to affect dedication, engagement, and fulfillment. So I actually switched my entire book. I basically wrote a book and a half. But the half of the book, no one will see, not until the next book comes out. But this book is really about, "How do I look inwards first to figure out how my emotions have hurt or helped me in the workplace?" And then, let's get brave enough! You've got to model the way. Just like you said, you have to model the way first so that you are brave to talk about your feelings. And once you start talking about your feelings, you give others permission to do the same.

Sarah Nicastro: Right. Yeah.

Carolyn Stern: And at every meeting I have with my team, we always start with a one-word feeling check-in. So we always ask everyone what they're feeling, and if anyone ever says to me, "Hey, I'm feeling stressed or overwhelmed," I can have a side conversation offline with them to find out how I can support them. But that gives me a lot of data as to what's going on for them. It also lets them know that I care.

Sarah Nicastro: Right.

Carolyn Stern: When people feel cared for ... Think about the last time you felt cared for it in the office. You probably worked a lot harder. And that's our goal as a leader, right? We're trying to move people forward towards our vision, our direction. People won't do that unless they feel cared for, appreciated, and fulfilled.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. No, you're right. I love it. I think it's great. Okay so, Carolyn, any closing thoughts? And also let people know where they will be able to find the book.

Carolyn Stern: Well first of all, thank you so much for having me. It's been a great conversation. The book is available September 13th in Canada, online and in stores, and October 4th in the United States, online and in stores. It's called The Emotionally Strong Leader: An Inside-Out Journey to Transformational Leadership. I just hope if I could get leaders to just learn one thing, it would be stop being so afraid of your emotions. They're just feelings. Feelings are not facts. They're not always factual. They can be factual, but they're not always. But they're fleeting, and we feel thousands of them, hundreds of them, lots of them throughout a day or throughout a week or throughout a month.

Carolyn Stern: They're transient. They're incredibly personal. And it's hard to be an objective bystander from your own emotions, but that is the key to your success. As I said at the beginning, I'm a very emotional person. I feel things very deeply, and I'm strong. I've now learned the mental skills and strategies to be stronger and bigger and smarter than my feelings. So I am in the driver's seat of my feelings, rather than, now, my feelings being in the driver's seat of me.

Sarah Nicastro: That's awesome. Well, congrats on doing the work and writing the book, and thank you for being on. So everyone, be sure to check out Carolyn's book, and also visit us online for more content at You can also find us on LinkedIn, as well as Twitter @TheFutureOfFS. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at As always, thank you for listening.

August 31, 2022 | 8 Mins Read

Summer Roundup

August 31, 2022 | 8 Mins Read

Summer Roundup


With so many having recently returned from summer holidays, Sarah recaps the highlights from our podcast episodes this summer so you can be sure to go back and check out what you missed!

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro.

This episode is going to be a little bit different than our normal format. I do not have a guest with me today. And this is going to be a bit of a summer roundup. I recognize that a lot of people have been on vacation or holiday, whichever your preferred term is, throughout the last couple of months. And I also realized that sometimes with a content platform that produces content on a weekly basis, not everyone catches everything. And so I wanted to do a roundup of some of the summer highlights because there have been some guests on that I certainly would not want anyone to miss. So you can use this episode as a way to have a quick listen at some of the guests we've had and the key points that they've covered. And then if those sound interesting to you can go back and check out those individual episodes.

So we're going to start with podcast number 174, which featured James Galloway, who is the head of product marketing for commercial in the UK and Ireland at BDR Thermea Group. So one of the brands that BDR owns is Baxi Heating and James was on to talk about the process that Baxi has gone through, or is going through, introducing heat as a service. And so he shares openly where they're at on that journey, what some of the challenges have been and what they have left to do and what some of the lessons learned are.

He brings up the point that it's very much a business transformation, and even though it's referred to as heating as a service, so we think of service and service transformation, it's a journey that wouldn't be possible if it wasn't perceived internally as an entire business transformation.

He talks a lot about how, when you're thinking about migrating toward as a service, you need to be focused on designing that offering from the outside in. He brings up a metaphor he heard once that was you design the key for the lock, not the other way around. So he also mentions that there are a lot of assumptions that need to be challenged when you're going through a change, this significant and a lot of work. But we also talk about why that work is so worthwhile, not only for Baxi itself and the impact on the business, but also for its customers as well as the environment. So it's a great episode to checkout.

The next one I wanted to talk about is episode 172, which is with author advisor and top 10 global thought leader, Frank Mattes. Frank is on to share perspective on some of the most common reasons that innovation fails, particularly when it comes to scaling innovation to drive business impact. There are so many nuggets of wisdom in the conversation with Frank. The book that Frank has written, The Lean Scaleup, he did so with a number of different organizations. So it's very much rooted in real world perspective, and that's very clear through the messages he delivers.

So he talks a lot about some of the common failure points around innovation and scaling innovation. He talks about some of the tactics that these businesses have leveraged to overcome those challenges and barriers. And he also talks about how it takes courage to innovate. So it isn't just about the right thinking or the right tools or the right management. It's also about courage. So he says it takes courage to leave a little ice, a piece of ice, where the company has lived comfortably over the last 30, 40, 50 years, and venture out into the wild, into unknown. But it's possible because some leaders recognize that little piece of ice where a company is based is getting smaller and smaller by the year. So it takes courage but it is a necessity for organizations to improve and his content is super helpful for those looking to scale innovation.

Episode 170 featured Rainer Karcher, who is the global director of IT sustainability at Siemens. And we had a great conversation about why service based businesses should be prioritizing sustainability, some of the ways to do that and what that can look like and what the future holds related to regulatory pressures and more. So, I love Rainer's passion for sustainability and the environment. He is incredibly committed to the cause. In the podcast he talks a little bit about why that is and where his passion for this topic came from. But we also talk about the fact that people approach or prioritize sustainability for different reasons. So there are people like him who are incredibly passionate about it as humans, and we all should be, but there's a lot of different reasons that we should be talking more and doing more related to sustainability.

So he talks about the fact that there are regulatory pressures. He gives some insight on what these look like not only in Europe, but across the globe. He talks a lot about how customers are coming to expect more from organizations related to their environmental initiatives. He also talks about how it factors in with public opinion and overall brand reputation. And finally, he talks about the increasing interest from investors in looking into organizations, sustainability initiatives. So there's a lot of good reasons to think more and do more related to the topic and this podcast is a great place to start.

Episode 167 features Tony Black, who is the president of service at Husky Injection Molding Systems. Tony was actually the very first podcast guest I ever had on episode number one when he was with Otis Elevator. In his role at Husky, they have recently moved to a predictive service model and he talks about some of the different facets of what this has looked like for the organization, as well as where they're headed and what will happen next.

One of the things I really like that Tony discusses is he says, it's a fallacy if you think you can kind of have magical AI and bots and automation do all of the work, it doesn't work that way. So they are leveraging all of those things, but he's very quick to point out that there is a real personal human connection component that will always be very, very important. So he talks a little bit about the tools that they are using and the approach they're taking to predictive service. But also how they're balancing that with some new roles that are building and those customer relationships nurturing those customer relationships and serving that purpose of marrying the data and the automation with the human touch. He also talks a lot about what the move to predictive means in terms of field service and that in his opinion field service onsite work will always, always, always be an important part of what they do, but how this predictive model is helping to evolve the way that they do work onsite. So there's a lot of good things in there.

Those are some episodes you should check out. We also featured a number of episodes from our Future of Field Service live tour events in the spring. Episode 169 features Jean Claude Jobard, who is the vice president for EMEA at Marmon Foodservice Technologies, and Jean Claude talks about the pace of change we're seeing in field service, how we need to become more agile. He shares his thoughts on four major trends that are shaping the future of field service, specifically what those things will look like in the three-to-five-year timeframe. That's 169. Episode 171 is from the Stockholm stop of the Future of Field Service tour and features Roel Rentmeesters, who is the VP of services at Munters.

Roel talks about some of the considerations for creating a remote service strategy. Munters deployed remote assistance at the start of the pandemic for business continuity and it has now shifted gears to examining its overall remote service strategy, how that factors in in the longer term on their journey towards servitization. That was a good conversation. Episode 173 from the Paris event is with Jean de Kergorlay, the digital buildings services director for Europe at Schneider Electric. Jean has been with Schneider Electric for 34 years, which gives him a very unique perspective, and he talks about some of the ways that despite the digital world we're living in, some of the ways we need to focus more and prioritize people.

Even though he is leading digital buildings, he is sharing his perspective on why and how our focus on people needs to continue to be a priority. In episode 175, we share a session from the Austin event. It is a session with both Katy Chandler, vice president of learning and development at DuraServ, as well as Roy Dockery, vice president of field operations at Flock Safety, about the tactics that they've implemented in their roles to not only find new talent, but to accelerate their time to value, as well as maximize retention. It's a really good conversation.

Episode 176 is also a session from Austin featuring Sonya Roshek, who is vice president of B+T Group, who talks very openly about what her experience is being one of few, if not the only woman in a series of male dominated industries and roles has been like. The intent here is to really understand what the experiences of a woman in service look like and get that firsthand perspective on what progress we've made, what progress we've yet to make to attract more women into field service. That gives you some food for thought of episodes to go back and check out and listen to and lets you know that we've been hard at work over the summer and there is much more to come this fall.

Stay tuned for a new podcast every Wednesday as always, and also stay tuned for information on the 2023 Future of Field Service Live tour. You can find more and stay up to date by visiting us at You can also find us on LinkedIn, as well as Twitter @thefutureoffs. The Future of Field Service Podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at As always, thank you for listening.

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August 24, 2022 | 9 Mins Read

Key Themes from Field Service Hilton Head 2022

August 24, 2022 | 9 Mins Read

Key Themes from Field Service Hilton Head 2022


Sarah shares what was top of mind among attendees at WBR’s Field Service Hilton Head event last week in South Carolina.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. I'm back again this week for another solo episode, two weeks in a row. This week, actually last week by the time you'll be seeing or hearing this, I've been in Hilton Head for the WBR Field Service Hilton Head event. Today, I'm going to give you a little bit of a recap on what some of the biggest themes and discussion points were at the conference. If you aren't familiar, WBR has a series of field service events. There is a variety of them. You should do a little bit of research. Typically, there's an event in Palm Springs in the spring. There's this event somewhere on the East Coast in this timeframe.

Sarah Nicastro: There's a Europe event happening towards the end of the year. There's a Field Service Medical specific event. There's a Field Service Connect event. If you're in this space and you're looking for conferences to attend and learn some things, meet with some different folks, make some new connections, it's certainly worthwhile to take a look at. I'm sure many of you are already familiar. I've been coming to these events for quite a few years, and just wanted to share with you all a synopsis of some of the themes that were most prevalent at the event this week. I'm going to pick three things that I think came up again and again and again and seem to be the focus area of a lot of conversations this week.

Sarah Nicastro: The first is all around data. We know how incredibly important data is in today's service landscape. I think the reason that it's such a prominent part of the discussion is that it impacts so many different areas of the business. It impacts the customer journey. It impacts internal decision-making. It impacts the customer value proposition. It impacts workforce performance. It impacts so many different areas. I think we're at a point where everyone has recognized the criticality of not just data, but sophisticated data and real-time intelligence, but also the importance of what you're doing with that data. I think there was a point where just being able to collect and have the data was a point of competitive differentiation.

Sarah Nicastro: We're certainly past that point, right? We're at the point where it isn't about, can you get it? You should have it. It's about what are you doing with it? There was a number of different conversations this week about that. One was a gentleman named Len from Eppendorf, who was talking about the fact that data isn't something we should be using as an organization just to drive costs down, but also to drive revenue up, right? To think a little bit differently about what we're doing with the insights we're collecting and how they can impact the business. He also talked about the fact that, again, data itself doesn't do much, right? It's our ability to leverage it that is powerful.

Sarah Nicastro: You need to be able to take that data and tell stories with it. One of the things he mentioned that I thought was really interesting is that he has actually sent a data analyst or maybe more than one to a creative writing course to learn a bit more about storytelling. This is the idea that most people that are consuming data, whether that's your internal stakeholders or your customers, they can't, won't, or don't want to make sense of raw data. They want to know, what is the story? What is it telling me? They want you to digest, simplify and turn that into that valuable perspective. His point that he shared is that a lot of data analysts tend to be very technical.

Sarah Nicastro: They tend to be the people that can make sense more intuitively of raw data. Sometimes it's helpful to teach those people how to turn that into stories. I thought that was interesting. There was also a gentleman from Henny Penny who talked about... We talk a lot about connecting assets, but that isn't where the value comes from. The value comes from what you do with the insight from those assets to drive value. There was a session with source support and some others talking about knowledge management and knowledge capture and knowledge management, which is another really important point of collecting and leveraging data and making sure that you're retaining the insights of your valuable frontline workforce.

Sarah Nicastro: David Douglas of Scientific Games had a session on leveraging technician scorecards to drive performance. Using data to motivate the frontline workforce to meet specific KPIs, to continuously improve, et cetera. There's a number of elements to this part of the conversation. There's the infrastructure around collecting data and connecting assets. Some questions that were brought up this week were around the ownership of that data. If you're collecting data from customer locations, who owns that data and how do you handle that discussion? How do you ensure security of the data? Then once you sort out the infrastructure, there's the analysis and the storytelling aspect.

Sarah Nicastro: Of course, there's the move toward leveraging data to become more predictive and proactive. And then there's a whole separate conversation around the commercialization of data and how once you've put the infrastructure in place and once you have mastered the ability to turn data into knowledge, how do you then use that to grow revenue of your organization? A lot of conversation around data. The second key thing that came up that I wanted to share is around third party. There was a very cleverly named session called Ain't No Party Without a Third Party, which I thought was cute. In that session, Patrick Dell of Varian and Sal Accardo of ABB shared some of their thoughts around leveraging third party.

Sarah Nicastro: I think generally agreed that in the talent landscape that we have today, the reality is in some form or fashion, third party is just a necessity. I don't know that everyone would agree, but that did seem to be a common consensus here at the event. With that said, a lot of the conversation centered around if you're leveraging a third party workforce, how do you ultimately protect yourself against that workforce becoming a competition from taking customers from you? Part of that conversation was around you can't completely mitigate that risk, right? Part of it is just accepting that fact. But one of the points that was brought up is, if they can come in and beat us at this thing, what else can we do?

Sarah Nicastro: What other knowledge expertise do we have that they can't? Focusing then on what is your true competitive differentiation and how do you highlight that with your customer base, how do you ensure that you are protecting your knowledge in whatever area makes you unique. The other point that was brought up by Patrick that I really liked is he said our goal should be to make them as good as we are because the customer experience has to come first. He very honestly shared that 15 years ago, he wouldn't have said that because he didn't necessarily look at it that way. But I thought that was a very honest sharing on his part and a very mature viewpoint.

Sarah Nicastro: But that is the reality, right? Then we also had a conversation in a breakout session that I was part of with Ira of Okuma, and they have specifically a distributor network. He was talking a lot about how they use NPS scores and different customer outreach to make that relationship collaborative and to make sure that those distributors feel like partners and have that sense of a relationship. With use of third party, obviously part of it is how do you manage the knowledge sharing with those folks. And most importantly, I think, is around how you protect the brand experience for your customers when you are relying on service providers that are not your own employees to deliver that.

Sarah Nicastro: The final point that seemed to come up quite a bit was around best practices for field service management. More looking at, how do we make the most of the modern, sophisticated technology that exists today? I had a number of conversations with attendees on the side about the vendors that were at the event exhibiting and showcasing their solutions and who had popped up that was new, who had been around for a long time, who does what, et cetera. I think the reality is there are a lot of modern, sophisticated tools and a lot of that can become quite confusing for people that are looking for the best fit for their business.

Sarah Nicastro: There's certainly an argument to be made for organizations today that the more they can simplify their technology stack, the better off they are. Because when you're looking to protect the customer experience, the more systems you have in place that are sort of pieced together, the more failure points that introduces and the more complexity. On the flip side, you want to make sure that the more you fit into a single tool, you're not trading capability or value of anything else. Again, I've said this in a lot of our content, I think there is this tendency to jump to, we need to use AI because it's on the agenda and people are talking about it, without necessarily really even defining what that means.

Sarah Nicastro: Just kind of hearing it as a buzzword and knowing that or thinking that they need to be doing that. In reality, I think there needs to be a better definition of what that means and how it's purpose driven for any individual business. But as I've said many times before, when it comes to making the best use of today's technologies, the starting point is really making sure there's a strong foundation in place. I'll point back to a podcast that I did a while back with Eduardo Bonefont from Becton Dickinson. He talked a lot about them kind of taking a beat or pressing pause to reflect on what they had and what they needed.

Sarah Nicastro: Because before they added or built upon their existing infrastructure, they needed to solve some foundational problems in what was already in place, their employee engagement, et cetera. I think that's very important for companies to keep in mind. You can't just jump to what's next or what's new if you don't already have a strong level of foundational capability in place. If you do or when you do, that's when should start looking at, okay, we have mastered the basics. We have really good access to a universal source of real time information across the business. We have technicians that are efficiently and effectively utilized. We are able to provide them the information they need at their fingertips when they are on a customer site.

Sarah Nicastro: We keep good track of our inventory, those sorts of things. That's when you can start looking at how you can layer in more advanced tools. Then you can start looking at, okay, how do we leverage machine learning or artificial intelligence to move toward more predictive models or to automate more tasks? How can we maybe leverage augmented reality with our customer base or with our internal employees and teams? The reality is twofold and sometimes it's a bit of a catch 22, but there are incredibly cool and interesting technologies that are available and ready for use today. But the question companies need to ask themselves is, are they ready to make use of them?

Sarah Nicastro: If you can answer that question honestly, it just sets you up for better success, right? I think the goal... I've noticed also, the conversation has shifted to, how do we empower our frontline? It's less about how do we control them and more about how do we empower them. How do we equip them to give the customer experience and the brand perception that we want? I think that's a great place to be in the conversation. I think the frontline workforce deserves that viewpoint versus one of control. I think that's really exciting. Those are three of the big things that I took away from the conversations this week. Of course, you can always visit us at Future of Field Service to hear more and learn more.

Sarah Nicastro: If you wanted to take a look at any of the upcoming WBR Field Service events, the Field Service Europe event is in Amsterdam, November 30th and December 1st, and the Field Service Palm Springs event is, of course, in Palm Springs scheduled for April 25th through 27th of 2023. I would love to see you at either one. And in the meantime, you can stay up to date on the latest in field service right here with us at You can also find us on LinkedIn, as well as Twitter @thefutureoffs. The Future of Field Service Podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at And as always, thank you for listening.

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August 17, 2022 | 31 Mins Read

A Woman Leader Shares Her Service Story

August 17, 2022 | 31 Mins Read

A Woman Leader Shares Her Service Story


In a session from the Austin Live Tour, Sarah welcomes Sonya Roshek, VP Field Services at B+T Group for an open conversation about what it’s been like to work, progress, and lead in male-dominated industries. She discusses what she’s learned, what she wants others to understand, what has evolved and what still needs to evolve.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today’s podcast is another session from our Austin Live Tour event. This one is featuring Sonya Roshek, who is the Vice President at B+T Group. Sonya has spent her entire career from her start in the military all the way through to her role at B+T. Being very often one of few if not the only female in male dominated industries and spaces. In this session at the Austin event, she shares some of her firsthand perspective. I think stories like Sonya and our collective willingness to listen to them and understand what women’s experiences are like, is very important when it comes to making changes and evolving in a way that ultimately will help us to get more women into field service. So, I hope you enjoy.

Sarah Nicastro: Alright. So Sonya has had a really interesting progression of being a woman in roles that you were probably not surrounded by many other women.

Sonya Roshek: Or none.

Sarah Nicastro: Or none. And so I can't remember who it was earlier. They asked about, "How do we get more women in service?" So, we're going to dig into that a bit. And I do think that, I said at the beginning of the day today, "I'm a big believer in the power of storytelling." I think one important thing for folks like yourselves to do is to hear stories of women that are in service and understand, "Okay, so what got them here? And what can we learn from that? What has happened that maybe they didn't leave because of, but could dissuade other women from being a part of the industry, et cetera?" So, we're going to dig into a bit of that. But before we do, tell everyone a little bit more about yourself, your role, what B+T does, and anything else you want to share? And I know it's post lunch guys, I get it. If we had cots, I would let you all take a quick 20 minute nap before we kicked off, but we don't. So if I see any snoring, I will call you out. So just be aware. Okay.

Sonya Roshek: So, I'll start with B+T. B+T Group started as an engineering company for telecommunications and then has moved more into, I call it complimentary services or construction. So, we do all of the construction for towers, on the towers, in the huts, fiber, small cells. There's lots of new small cells going in. So basically anything that makes your phone tick is kind of what we do. I was brought into to actually run the construction. And I think there's maybe one other woman that I know of, of my same grade or caliber, if you will, that works at T-Mobile that still works in construction. There's a lot of women that are in different positions, but they're more in administrative. There are very few that are actually on the construction side.

Sonya Roshek: I started my career, coming out of college and going into the army, which I still can't really figure out how I ended up that way, other than it was a good way to pay for college. So coming out of the army, I went into work for US West back in the old days in the central offices. And those were those big buildings that had those massive computers, essentially that would fill this entire room, to service basically a city like this. I'm not even sure how I got hired because as the job description said, it had all kinds of technical things on there. And I was a nuclear chemical and biological officer, I didn't know what that was. So, I think to your point, I remember getting hired and they're like, "Okay, you're going to start." And it was in Portland, Oregon. And I remember calling HR and I'm like, "Can you read me the job description?"

Sonya Roshek: I had no idea what I got hired for, and it turned out okay. But they were hiring people coming out of the military. They were hiring people of different diversity. And there was a huge age gap. Because that was back in the time where people would start a job and stay in the utilities or the telephone company for 30, 40 years. Matter of fact, there had been so many layoffs, my least senior person had more years of service than I had at age. So I think I was 24, 26 maybe. And they all had 28 years of service or more. So, not only was it a generational gap, but also quite a gender gap as well. In the central offices there was more women, but not a lot. And especially as you went outside into the field services, there was very few women. Matter of fact, you can count them on your hand.

Sonya Roshek: So, as I kind of progressed through that, I moved into, Alcatel-Lucent was, they hired me and I ended up doing the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. Building the fiber optic rings there. And again, I think I had a 350 installers out in the field and might be five or six women at that point. And I actually remember having my supervisor in Idaho, he's like, "I don't want to hire women, they can't lift." I'm like, "Our job description says 50 pounds, go get a bag of dog food, put it in your office. They can pick it up, put it on their shoulder, you're hiring her." I mean, so just the discrimination and the mindset of, women can't do this. Not, "How can we engage women?" It was just, "Women can't do this." And so when I look at women in the workplace, I was talking to somebody in the back there and the reality is, it starts when we have children. We give girls a doll and we give boys a hammer and drills and a toolbox and let them go take things apart.

Sonya Roshek: We don't do that with girls. I mean, so why are we expecting girls to be in field services and be technical, because, we just don't train our girls to do that? I think it's getting better. Title IX helped a little bit. But even now dads don't want to see their girls dirty. And I think that's just a generational, I think it's a girls wear pink, boys wear blue. Why can't we just wear green and yellow? Or so I think that's where initially I think we need to start looking.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, no, that makes sense. So I think we've been at conferences together a few times. But what made me reach out to Sonya, because I've never interviewed you before. So this is happening in real time guys. But what made me reach out to you that I loved so much was, at the last Palm Springs event or maybe it was November, was it November or April?

Sonya Roshek: Palm Springs, April.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. So, you were on a panel, and I'm not trying to throw anyone under the bus here. But this is just the realities of this topic. And it was about diversity and et cetera, and Maureen, and I love Maureen, but she, without realizing it. And I don't remember the specific question, but she was almost reinforcing some of the stereotypes in the way she was asking the questions to where I was kind of cringing. And you were the only person that was like, "Ah, actually I think no, and here's why." And I was like, "Okay, I love her." Because honestly, I mean, if anyone here knows Maureen, who's the event planner for that event, she's a fantastic human being. And that's the problem is a lot of this bias is unconscious. A lot of the stereotypes we have we don't even realize we have, and or are reinforcing. And I'll be really honest in saying, I have two boys and I'm not having any more kids.

Sarah Nicastro: And sometimes I get sad about the fact that I don't have an opportunity to raise a daughter in today's world. But I also realize that there's an equal opportunity for me to change this through my sons. And I recently had a big falling out with a family member who told my younger son to stop crying like a little girl, boys don't cry. And I was like, "Absolutely not. You can shut that down right now.” And he hasn’t talked to me since. But it's important for me as a mother to stand up to those things, because that's how that change happens. I don't want them thinking that they can't have emotions, or they love to wear pink and rainbow, like cool, I'm totally here for it. So, I absolutely agree with everything you've said.

Sarah Nicastro: And I think that you're right, that if we all really want to make a change in this topic, one of the things we need to do that has a longer term payoff is reflect how are we as individuals, even in our home lives and our family lives, reinforcing those stereotypes or those biases without realizing it. So because it is so baked in, especially like you said, this delineation of boy versus girl and what boys are allowed to do, say, where et cetera, and it starts with really reflecting on how we're living our lives and how that impacts what the next generation is growing up believing. I wanted to ask you, you mentioned that first role you applied to, excuse me, you had to then call them and ask them to redo back the job description, which I think is hilarious. But you also said you knew you didn't have all of the qualifications.

Sonya Roshek: I didn't have any of the qualifications.

Sarah Nicastro: Now, I want to ask you then how you had the confidence to apply anyway, because research shows that women won't apply for roles unless they meet almost a 100% of the qualifications listed for a job. Which is one of the issues we have with casting that wider net that Roy was speaking of. So, what made it different for you to just apply anyway?

Sonya Roshek: It was actually through a recruiting firm that did the young military officers. And so it was one of those places where you go and there's 30 or 50 different companies that are interviewing and it's like speed dating. You did seven interviews back to back, to back. So you didn't even know really what you were getting into. And then if they liked you, then they called you in for another secondary interview. So, I remember the recruiter though. I think you said character hiring for character. And the recruiter's like, "We're looking for somebody who's got the fire in the belly. I can't teach that. I can't change that. I can't create that. That fire in the belly of somebody that cares or that wants to go learn or understand things. We can't harvest that." So when they found somebody with fire in the belly they're like, "We want you." So, that matriculated a secondary interview where I think actually my boss at the time fell asleep in the interview. It was weird, but the long and the short of it is, he hired me and-

Sarah Nicastro: Also goes to show culture wasn't as important then.

Sonya Roshek: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Because that would have been a red flag, right?

Sonya Roshek: Right, it was. And I mean, I didn't even know there was things called a central office and the mainframe computers. And I remember walking in there and it was so filthy. One of the technicians was training me, basically having me chase literally a piece of wire through the entire office. And I had a white sweater on and she goes, "Hmm, maybe we could get some cleaning around here." I'm like, "Hmm, evidently." So I think that, did I interview, or did I try to hire? At that point I was just coming out of the military, I didn't know what I wanted to do. I know I didn't want to be in the military anymore. Not that it wasn't a great experience.

Sonya Roshek: But to your point, the military was even more gender biased. I mean, you had, it was 10% women at that time. And as a woman you had to be not only the top 10% of the women, but you had to be better than about 70% of the men. So you had to perform better. You had to carry as much weight, otherwise you were just pushed aside. So, I mean, there was times where I literally, this big six foot guy he was like, "That radio is really heavy." I'm like, "Give it to me." And the cadre or the captains looked at me and he goes, "Hmm, you're going to be able to carry that?" "Yes, sir." Crying. You can't show fear. You can't show emotions. You had to buck up like the guys. And is that the best tactic? No. Is that how I survived? Yes.

Sarah Nicastro: Now, do you feel like the Sonya we see here today, so I can tell you have that fire in the belly, that's very clear. Do you feel you had that and that allowed you to succeed in the military? Or do you think the military shaped that?

Sonya Roshek: I think I had that. I mean, I think that's just innate to part of my personality, which I think goes to show that you can't train that. But I think that actually started with my dad. I mean, my dad would say, "Okay, come on, we're going to go do a chore today." I'm like, "Okay, are we going to go re-roof this house?" "We? Okay." I think I was 10. And it was an old, we called them the slums, but there was like seven layers of shingles on that. And we were ripping them up. And pretty soon I fell right through and my feet were dangling and my dad's like, "Well, got to get out of there." And I said, "Aren't you going to help me?" He goes, "Well, I'm going to fall through if I go over there and help you, get out."

Sonya Roshek: So, I mean, I think he shimmied the board over, but that just kind of goes to show that my dad was like, "You're coming with me. We're going to go retile." He didn't have in his brain ... Maybe I was the boy child that he wanted in the first time, because my older brother wasn't willing to go do that. So he didn't have in his brain a gender bias. And I remember even saying, or he used to say, he had the attaboy, he'd be, "Attaboy, girl, let's go." And to this day, I still think that's how the phrase should be said as, attaboy girl. And it just kind of stuck, so. But my dad was definitely part of that, "I'm not going to put a boundary on you. Let's see if you can go figure it out."

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Now, the fire in the belly, I would imagine is what kept you progressing through. So obviously you started in that initial role. You've worked in the field. So, tell us a little bit more about the trajectory?

Sonya Roshek: Coming out of the central office, and I think the other key that we don't do with women or that women and girls don't do is they don't put their hand up and say, "I'll do it. Let me try." I'd worked in the central office for about a year and a half and we were switching out the mechanical switches to a digital switch. And I'm like, "Well, I'll try it." They're like, "Well, you don't have 30 years of service. How are you going to figure this out?" I'm like, "Well, can I have this person and this person and this person and this person to build the team?" They're like, "Well, you're going to need a team, but what makes you think you can do this?" I'm like, "Did anybody else raise their hand?" So I think that's another piece that if you just try and you raise your hand, you're going to fail.

Sonya Roshek: There was a lot of things that we failed on, but giving yourself permission to fail and trying and standing back up is really a key. After that I went, got hired by the equipment manufacturer and ended up doing the services piece for the Salt Lake City Olympics, which included the fiber optic ring, the International Sports Broadcasting Center, they call them cows or cellular on wheels. And 9/11 hit during that time. And I remember getting a call from the VP and she says, "I need, how many cows can you send out to New York?" And I'm like, "None, it's four months before the Olympics. It takes about three to five years to build the network for an Olympics." And she said, "Well, you have them built, right?" I said, "Yeah, but if I send them out to New York, I'm never going to get them back." And about six months later, sorry. About six months later, I think I got it.

Sarah Nicastro: No, I just saw it fly behind you. I was hoping so.

Sonya Roshek: I know, here it is. Six months later I get a call. She actually moved me to Michigan, which was the most evil thing a person could do. And she came and had dinner with me and she goes, "I just had to meet the person that told me no in a national crisis." And I'm like, "Well, nobody would have cared four months later." She goes, "That's a good point. I didn't think about that. But she said, "That was probably the ballsiest thing I've ever had anybody do." And I think it was 28 maybe at that age. And she goes, "And did you just get out of school?" I mean, she literally couldn't-

Sarah Nicastro: Who are you?

Sonya Roshek: Yeah, that's kind of what it was. "I just had to meet you." And my boss was like, "Why is she wanting to meet you?" I'm like, "I don't know." But so after that I started into Michigan, went, did a tour in Israel doing system integration of their voice over IP switch and then came back Stateside and ended up doing a Greenfield build in Canada and microwave overlay. And now I'm running the, or rebuilding all the small cells and towers. So career wise, I think I've, I'm going to say stumbled through it. There wasn't like, "Okay, this is what I need to do next." It was, I remember being in Seattle when the first 3G network kind of came out and my boss said, "We're going to cut the staffing in two thirds." I'm like, "I think that's a terrible idea." And I gave him three different options. "Maybe we should come up with an interim term." And he's like, "Nope, we're going to cut it all off." I'm like, "Okay, you tell the customer that."

Sonya Roshek: And I remember sitting in that room and briefing the customer and every page of the PowerPoint, dead PowerPoint, went flawlessly until we got to resources. And he goes, "Well, we're going to cut by two thirds now that we're towards the end of the project." And I remember that customer, he was from AT&T, and he didn't hit the table. He's like, "Jim, every time you speak, you make me angry." And the whole table's like slid under. So we get out and he says, "Go ahead." I'm like, "Yeah, what, I told you so." I'm like, "You thought you were right. I'll let you stumble." So, I think having the courage to kind of stand up for what's right, not necessarily what the company needs or what you feel is right, but actually what is right for the end customer kind of I think definitely propelled me throughout my career.

Sarah Nicastro: I love that. So I want to give a shout out to Marnie Martin who is in the back of the room. So, in my former role, which I was in for, like I said, 11, 12 years, I was part of a culture that really disliked the same things about me that you're saying. Like speaking up, not because you want to be right, but for what's right. And having opinions and wanting to think differently or do things differently. And it was really frustrating and really soul sucking, and Marnie and I had known each other for a number of years because in that role, so I was a part of a publication. And so our advertisers were different technology providers in the field service space. And so I knew Marnie through one of her former roles. And so she reached out to me and that's how this all started. And it's been fantastic to have a mentor and a support that doesn't just appreciate that, but encourages it.

Sarah Nicastro: And I would say, the culture of the organization overall, in pockets, it is a little more challenging, but generally speaking,  is a world of difference in terms of a company that actually values diversity of thought and is willing to allow people to have a little bit more of a voice and et cetera. So, I think it's, when you all think about who are you bringing into the company and who's staying, who's thriving, who's leaving, you also need to reflect on, you can have the goal of diversity and even diversity in a specific category like women, but do you have the work life, the employee experience that supports that goal and kind of dig into is the reality matching up to what the vision is?

Sarah Nicastro: And I think it, I have a lot of respect for you, because I can just tell that grit of never knowing what backlash is going to come out of being the person that is not the yes, man. That is always willing to say-

Sonya Roshek: Or woman.

Sarah Nicastro: ... what someone doesn't want to hear. Yes, the yes, woman, it does take a lot. And I mean, I feel like I spent a lot of time battling, so anyway. Okay, so let's talk about, so you progressed all the way from the military into sort of your initial role all the way up to the VP level, all the while being typically one of you, if not the only woman. What have been some of the hardest parts of that? When have you felt the most challenged, or have you ever felt discouraged, or what have been the tough parts?

Sonya Roshek: I'm going to say this and probably regret it, but there is a lot of truth to the good old boys club and not being able to be part of the good old boys or them saying, "We're going to drop you off, because then we're going to go out." And of course do some sort of suspicious activity. Or they go play golf and they don't think that women can play golf. So, I think that that's been my biggest frustration is it's not that, there's nothing I can do about that. That is just the culture. The other piece I think is sitting in a boardroom and I'll say something and nobody even acknowledges that I said anything. And about five minutes later a gentleman will say the exact same words, "Oh, that's a great idea. Fantastic. I wonder where you came up with that one." It's shocking to me how often that happens, and-

Sarah Nicastro: Still.

Sonya Roshek: Still, still. I appreciate my boss now for the fact that he does listen and will say, "I disagree, or I like what you're saying, let's talk more about it. Or it's not quite what I'm looking for. How can we change it?" So, and he's an engineer, of course engineers are always right. And I actually had somebody ask me that when I was interviewing, they said, "How do you talk to engineers?" Like, "With my voice. Is there a certain way you're supposed to talk to them?" They're like, "Well, if you're not an engineer, how are you going to get your mission or your agenda across?" And I'm like, "I can read a set of drawings. I can look at them and tell them what's right and what's wrong." But it's still very frustrating to me that there is a believed credibility gap. So, I think that's by far my frustrating point of the locker room talk and the, it's getting better, but by far we've got a long way to go. Especially at the executive level.

Sarah Nicastro: And Sasha, I mean, you said this about your objectives for creating that at the executive level you have better parody, but then as you go down it becomes less so. And to your point, it is really hard to change that good old boys club type of vibe if those numbers are staying in the 80 and 90%, right? Which then gives the 10 or 20% of women in those roles an experience that they're probably not enjoying. So then it becomes almost like a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Do you have any thoughts on, I know you said you as an individual living it can't change it, but do you have any thoughts on how these folks in the room as leaders in their businesses can help make progress?

Sonya Roshek: I think-

Sarah Nicastro: Specifically, sorry. I was just going to say, specifically with like the good old boys club mentality and then the perceived competence?

Sonya Roshek: I think it's really just sitting down and asking for opinions. It's getting other women engaged, not putting limitations on them, not presumed limitations. It's, I think people don't even realize when they start having the locker room talk or the good old boy network, they don't, it's totally unawareness. And I'm not saying that we need to change all of our rhetoric into politically correct or any of that sort. I'm just saying, acknowledge that in fact you have that natural bias and people naturally will open a door for you. It's like, "Can I open a door for you?" So, I think it's just a consciousness and it's society has ingrained in us so much that women aren't capable or are not available or not willing to do things. And most women are willing to do that.

Sarah Nicastro: I think it's a really good point of having the conversations and listening. I mean, that's why I said the value of stories, which is why I'm thrilled to be here with you all today. I think there's so much benefit in hearing each other's perspectives. And to your point about being politically correct, I think none of us are perfect and none of us are going to do it right all the time. So I think with that, when you talk about diversity, equity and inclusion and what you can address and how, when you actually dig into what are the things working against us, like the good old boys club and this and that, the goal does not need to be perfection or political correctness. It just needs to be, I think it comes down a lot to intent and authenticity, like is the person trying to make the change doing so out of good intent and are they authentically caring?

Sarah Nicastro: Because I think people sense that so much. And I think there's experiences that can happen that aren't perfect. But if the intent is good, it's okay if it's not politically correct or perfection, it's just, there's good intent. We're learning together. We're making progress. I think one of the biggest challenges is this is another topic area where everyone says they have the intent. Everyone says they want to improve diversity, equity, inclusion, but there's a difference between the businesses that are just saying it and the ones that authentically have the desire to change it and the actions they're taking. So, it's just a totally different ball game. So I asked you about the challenges. Have there been any positives of being the only woman or one of few women in any of your career experiences?

Sonya Roshek: Yeah, first of all, I can go to any conferences, and everybody knows who I am, I don't know who they are. Roy, same one. It's like, "There's the one African American guy right there. I know who he is." So, I think that's a positive in some regards is they definitely know who I am. "Well, yeah, we introduced ourselves six times. Sorry." I think the other positive is I get to have those little micro changes and have some of that change within just individuals. I used to always get put on the diversity panel or the diversity, whatever. And it's like we do better just having a conversation around the water hole than actually trying to force people to sit and listen to a panel on diversity. That doesn't help any, it's really sit down and ask the question. What's your background? How did you get here? What do you like? What do you don't like? Because I think that brings not only the cohesiveness, but the inclusion and helps you understand where this person's coming from, versus, "Let's sit on a diversity panel and talk about women and men."

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And I think it's, there's power in you being a strong enough woman to live some of these uncomfortable experiences and make those micro changes that will help other women. You know what I mean? I think about that a lot like myself. So, I get really frustrated with gender stereotypes, particularly as it relates to the dynamics of a marriage and motherhood. Because I, every time I'm traveling someone inevitably says, "Don't you miss your kids? Isn't it so hard?" And I'm like, "Yeah, but I also love what I do." And so there's that, like it's okay for me to have a career. But there are also times it's really hard for me personally.

Sarah Nicastro: And so I always try and remind myself that I can't want for a different perception of what motherhood or what parenthood looks like if I'm not actively taking part in creating that perception. So on the days where it does feel really shitty to be away from my kids for a long time or something and I'm kind of in my feelings, I will just remind myself that it's part of changing that perception. So yeah, I think it's interesting though how slow moving these changes are. So, how much or little do you feel things have evolved since you started your career?

Sonya Roshek: Honestly, very little, especially on the field services side. I think there's a whole lot more on maybe some more administrative, or retail, or that sort of thing. But I mean, we've talked about it before. It's like, "Oh, they have kids and they go take care of it." Well, when COVID happened, a lot of the mothers did go back and support their kids or do schooling. And why is that? Because women make 76 cents to the dollar. It's more cost effective for the woman to stay home than it is for the man. And I've even had an interview where a man literally said, "Well, I'm the man. I need to make this much money." Well, your qualifications don't say that.

Sonya Roshek: So, I think until we really stretch out and say, what is, and I've had to catch it in our own organization where it's like, we've brought in women to be project coordinators. And then we raised them through the ranks, but they're significantly below a construction manager, even though they're doing the construction manager's job or all the prep for the construction manager. So, why are we still putting them in a subordinate role? Why aren't we giving them that title and giving them the pay? And I mean, my poor HR gal, she knows that whenever I call she closes her door and takes me off of mute or off of speaker. She goes, "You are the reason why I stayed in business." I'm like, "You're welcome."

Sonya Roshek: But even having, I've had to change her mind of what to expect from women and leadership. And it's even interesting for her to have that change in dynamic where she's like, "I can't believe that we're still today in this time and we're still having these conversations." I mean, again, growing up I didn't have somebody that told me I couldn't, so I did. But I think we tell our girls, "You can't." Whether it's via words or actions.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So, coming back to the question that got brought up earlier, what thoughts, I mean, let's do some brainstorming. How do we get more women into field service roles? Do you have any ideas?

Sonya Roshek: I talk about it. I mean, people ask me what I do and I talk about it. I brought more women into our industry than probably men, mostly because I talk with women and they're like, "Well, what do you do? How do you do it?" I'm like, "You want to do it? Let's give it a go, because it's not rocket science." So, I've brought in three women that climb towers. They actually didn't stay with our company, but moved to another company and they had an entire crew that's all women. Because it's a pretty intimate time where you're with that same four or five people for three or four weeks at a time staying in hotel rooms. And there's not porta potties out on the site. So, I mean you get pretty intimate and you have to kind of break those barriers. So I think it's just talking about it and giving people the opportunity.

Sonya Roshek: I have a young gal in Texas, and every day I talk to her I'm like, "Oh my gosh, that's me 30 years ago." I shake my head and I just throw more at her and see if she catches it. So I think it's really just encouraging those women in general and say, "Hey, do you want to try this?" I think when we think of leadership roles we think of men, we don't think of women. When we look for promotions, we think of men, we don't think of women. It's shocking to me when you are in those conversations and they do bring up a woman, they go, "She's kind of bitchy." "Well, you call it bitchy, I call it strong." You know, I think that-

Sarah Nicastro: And those are the type of unconscious biases that really exacerbate this problem. It's, I mean, it's so true. It's, at my old job I had a note in my file that I had poor emotional control, which wasn't true. I just was very, I had very strong opinions and I would voice them and they are, coming from a man that was fine. And coming from a woman, it was-

Sonya Roshek: Correct.

Sarah Nicastro: ... out of step. So it's, what are our expectations or our perceptions that we have that maybe we're not surfacing and examining? I do think you brought up a really good point. Other than just talking about it more and addressing what Roy pointed out, which is sort of like the marketing problem, I think leaders are in a position to help the change in terms of looking, proactively looking for people to become a part of it, women to become a part of it. I'm curious for those of you here, like Sasha spoke this morning right off the top about the metrics of male versus female in different categories of the business. Do you all know those by heart? Everyone? Yes? No?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Because I think that's another good point. We change what we measure. So, does a company, or does an individual even care enough to know what those numbers are to work toward change? I think, the other thing, so I think Roy brought up a really good point when we get to travel. So if we talk specifically about field technicians, I think there's some potential depending on industry to get creative there. So maybe you can do a rotating schedule. Maybe you can do a four day work week. Maybe you can do, I don't know what, right? But again, I would urge each of you not to just stick with the historical and the assumption of, "Well, it is what it is and it can't change."

Sarah Nicastro: And I would also say like, I travel a lot. I mean, I'm not a field technician, but I travel a lot and my husband stays home with our kids. I mean, he works, but he doesn't travel, and I do. And so that isn't the norm, but it's also not necessarily a deal breaker if we're doing a good job of explaining the opportunity that exists in the profession, particularly as it relates to that path and the trajectory. So, I think those are some important things to think about. All right, so if you were to take your lessons learned and give that woman you said you see as yourself 30 years ago some advice based on your experience, what would it be?

Sonya Roshek: Don't let anybody tell you that you can't. I mean, she's living proof that, I mean, she started as a coordinator three years ago and she's now running a major program in north Texas. So, it's asking questions. It's, don't be afraid to say, "I want that job." When I interviewed, I just promoted her, but when I interviewed her I had never really, she was three or four levels below me. So, when I pulled up her resume I was actually shocked. She had her master's degree out of London, and I also had her personality profile and I was like, "Her degree didn't match her personality profile." And I'm like, "What? This doesn't make any sense?" And she goes, "Yeah, I hated that degree, did not fit." I'm like, "Okay, now it makes sense."

Sonya Roshek: But I think just, I mean, what I thought was going to be a 15 minute interview of, "You don't have enough experience. You don't have blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." All the reasons why I was going to dismiss her all of a sudden just turned. So listening and putting herself out there saying, "I think I can do this." And she has just blown me away every time. And it's interesting when you want something done detailed, a lot of times we give it to the women, because they're very detailed and they're very conscientious of what it is they need. I won't really give it to a guy because they'll go take a hammer and smash it. So, and again, that's my own biases, but I think is also real and we do that a lot where it's like, "Oh, I need my assistant." "Oh, okay. It's a woman." Rarely is an assistant a man. So, but I just, don't let anybody say you can't.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. If you had to give these folks one piece of advice on what they could or should do differently or in addition to what they're doing, what would it be?

Sonya Roshek: Understand and know your own biases, because even what comes out of my mouth sometimes I go, "Ooh, I shouldn't have said that. Or that's not what I'm thinking or that's not what I feel." But we're so ingrained with messages on TV or on Facebook or ads that it subconsciously just works in your head. So, I think you have to actively change the way we think.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. What are your current areas of focus at B+T?

Sonya Roshek: A couple years back we did, the industry as a whole had a huge safety problem. We had people falling off the towers left and right. And a lot of that was based on the fact that before you didn't have to tie off and now you have to tie off. Shocker, you don't fall. So, I had my safety guys coming into the office and yelling at me saying that people aren't climbing safe and we had hired literally into the industry hundreds of people and trying to train them and get them up. And the only thing we kept saying is, "Make sure you're tied off in two places." And sure enough, the guy was tied off in two places, but he was not tied off accurately. So we kind of retrained and said, "What do we got to do something different?"

Sonya Roshek: And the safety guys locked me in a room with all the directors and went through all these safety issues. And I was like, "Okay, I don't need a checklist. I don't need a PowerPoint, because they don't read and they will pencil up all your checklists. So we need something that's hands on, that's tactile that we can teach and learn." So we kind of came up with a, I called it safety-based skills training. That changed, about six months later we got the entire industry engaged and it's now a certification. So, and I think I'm the only female that's certified all the way up through foreman, but it is a tower of communications certification. It's ANSI certified and it's no different than the crane operators. They have to go through, after about six, eight months of training they actually go through a test, both written and practical, and have to pass that. That's now also getting written into the contracts with AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile of having to have somebody certified on the job site.

Sonya Roshek: It's already in the last five years changed how incident rates, safety falls significantly. And I know it's cliche and I'm not probably the biggest safety person in the world, as I climbed on a ladder and used a chainsaw to cut down a fence. But I think that the reality is people go to work to provide for the family. They don't go to work to get hurt and become potentially life crippled. So to me that's kind of changed the passion and how I view what I expect out of people, whether it's they're limiting their hours to 60 hours a week so that they don't fall asleep driving, or don't cut themselves because they're not paying attention. So, really what I'm trying to do is change that culture so that it's not like a safety guy walking around saying, "I'm going to save your life." But more of, "I value your life. I value what you're doing and how do you do your job safely."

Sonya Roshek: So, and the other piece of that is just mentoring. I used to kind of be a knuckle-dragger and power my way through everything. And now I kind sit back and just ask questions, "And well, how come we're doing it that way? Why are we ordering it this way?" Instead of saying, "I know what the answer is." But letting them get there and doing a lot more mentoring. So both for women and men. I wouldn't have got through my career without some amazing men in my path that had gave me a chance. Sometimes I didn't let them, but I just told them I was going to do it. So, but I mean, safety is paramount. If you get hurt, your production goes down, everybody gets down.

Sarah Nicastro: That makes sense. 

Sarah Nicastro: Alright, I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Sonya. I really admire her “fire in the belly,” as she refers to it, and her willingness to share so openly, So Sonya, thank you for that and thank you for tuning in. Be sure to visit us at for more. You can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter @thefutureofFS. The future of field service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at As always, thank you for listening. 

Most Recent

August 10, 2022 | 38 Mins Read

Finding, Accelerating and Retaining Field Service Talent

August 10, 2022 | 38 Mins Read

Finding, Accelerating and Retaining Field Service Talent


In a session from the Austin stop of the Future of Field Service Live Tour, Sarah talks with Katy Chandler, VP of Learning and Development at DuraServ and Roy Dockery, VP of Field Operations at Flock Safety, about the tactics they’ve implemented to not only find new talent, but also accelerate their time to value and maximize retention.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today we are sharing a session from the Austin Live Tour, that features Roy Dockery, who is the Vice President if Field Operations at Flock Safety. And Katy Chandler who is the Vice President of Learning and Development at DuraServ. This is a conversation about different ideas to tackle the talent gap. We talk through both Roy and Katy’s experiences in a wide range of areas of this topic from recruiting and hiring, to retention, training and development. We take some interesting questions from the audience related to how to speed time to value for new employees. So it’s a great discussion, I hope you enjoy.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, I think this is one that likely can be very interactive, so no yawning and feel free to interject, shout out questions, etc. Before we dig in, why don't you all say a little bit more about your role, your organization, and anything you want to share about yourself, Katy I will start with you. 

Katy Chandler: My name is Katy Chandler. I work at a company called DuraServ, a mid-sized company based in Dallas. We have about 30 locations through the Sun Belt, from Phoenix up to New Jersey, and one in Toronto, so technically, we're international, but just barely. But we are in the commercial overhead door and dock equipment space, so just like a garage door in your house, but in a commercial application for receiving, distribution, warehousing, food service, all sorts of businesses that have doors in their receiving area. We sell, service, and install those. No manufacturing, but we have about 800 employees right now, and about half of them are field service technicians.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. Roy?

Roy Dockery: I'm Roy Dockery, I'm the VP of Field Operations for Flock Safety, which is new now. I worked at Swisslog Healthcare for the last 12 years in healthcare automation and technology, but now I'm in public safety operating systems, and working with police departments to eliminate crime and mitigate bias. So, I've been in the field service space for the last 12 years, like I said, largely in healthcare. Sarah and I have been beating the talent gap drum. I think I've been talking at conferences now on it for five years?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Roy Dockery: Roughly, before The Great Resignation started. So yeah, so that's my background, field service, technical support, software support, kind of the whole span of service from a customer face perspective.

Sarah Nicastro: Perfect. All right. So, let's kind of start off with just each of you talking a little bit about what you're seeing within your own organizations related to this topic, so how it's sort of impacting you, and if you need to speak historically at all with Swisslog, that's fine. I know you just recently transitioned.

Roy Dockery: Yeah. So, for me, I think, and it's been touched on a little bit and I think it's an interesting continuation, I think one of the main things that I see, and it was mentioned earlier, is that there's a lot more focus on purpose and the mission of an organization when it comes to recruiting, because you can recruit for behavior and for attitude, which I've also talked about for years, and then you can train for skills, which I think even Mr. James said earlier.

Roy Dockery: So, but I think one of the problems from a recruiting perspective is that we're used to just advertising jobs, and then filling jobs, and now people want purpose, and we are in field service, and Sarah and I have talked about this, we really suck at marketing in field service, right? All of us who are field service managers and executives, you could be doing it for 10, 20, 30 years, once a week, you are still explaining to somebody what field service is, because no one understands what it is. And so, just marketing the job, I think isn't hitting the bar anymore. You really got to talk about the mission of the company, the impact to the community, kind of like how does this impact affect your family? Because generationally, people don't just want a job, right? They want something that they can feel motivated and connected to.

Roy Dockery: So, even when I was in healthcare, I saw where people would just sign up for a job, and then the interviews became more like speed dating, right? It was kind of like, "Well, what do you do for the community, and what's the impact?" And so, even that transition started to happen, and we see it even more now. So, as leaders within the organization, we have to be able to train those, whether it's in recruiting or hiring managing, to kind of navigate that space, especially when there's technical jobs, of being able to connect it to the mission, social good, some benefit.

Roy Dockery: So, that's one thing that I think is consistent, even for healthcare, and now being into public safety, is that when we're recruiting, we've got to go a lot further beyond the job to really get people's interest and attention, because I found the people, and we were just talking a minute ago, the people who come for the job don't stay, right? Because somebody else will offer them another job that pays more money, and then they will be gone, and now you're back into the recruiting and the training aspect again. So, that's one thing.

Sarah Nicastro: Katy?

Katy Chandler: Absolutely, same, but what I would-

Sarah Nicastro: Ditto.

Katy Chandler: Yeah, ditto. There we go, done. What I would add to that is we are not seeing... We actually call them a unicorn, someone who has experience in our industry and has been working, they're unicorns, they just don't exist. We've had to shift to trying to hire people who don't have experience, and train them up, just as you were saying, try to hire for that fit, and then train them on the skills. So, that's been a very notable shift in our organization, because we're not used to doing that. We're used to saying, "This is someone who has some experience, and we'll put them with someone who has a little more experience, and they'll just kind of learn it over the years, and be better at it," and we've had to really take a strategic step back to consciously come up with a way to structure that a little bit better than we've previously done.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So, when Roy mentioned, I think you were guest number two, maybe on the podcast, two or three. So, that was a while ago, and we did talk about this exact topic. I think you saw early on something that people are now just beginning to accept, which is that the practice of hiring based on experience is not sustainable. Okay? So, it's a failing strategy, and I think people now are beginning to understand that and put measures in place to change what they're doing, but there's still this need to really become more creative, right?

Sarah Nicastro: So, talk a little bit about the why and the how. So, I want to focus right now on bringing people in. So, I want to be careful that today in this discussion, we don't only talk about recruiting, because I think that's one of the missteps. When we think of the talent problem, everyone just thinks about, "How do we hire, how do we hire, how do we hire?" The question Rudy asked in the last session is actually digging more into the issues of retaining, and keeping employee morale up, and keeping people, and that's also an important part of the conversation. But to start, when we think about changing our strategy for hiring so that we're not dependent upon experience, what do we need to be thinking about?

Katy Chandler: I think we've really tried to be thoughtful about who and how we publicize our jobs, and working with trade organizations, or trade schools, excuse me, to find some alignment in some skill set, or at least some mechanical aptitude. People who are interested in welding, we can take that skill set and build on it, and translate that into our industry and what they need to do in our workspace. So, that has been somewhat of a shift for us to really try to build that network, to get the right kind of people who have the right aptitude, even if not the exact skills we're looking for.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm.

Roy Dockery: Yeah, and then that’s why, and I let katy go first because she's over in training and development as well, I think one of the things that we miss is that we might shift our traditional recruitment model, right? We might update our job posting, and then we want to attract a different type of talent, but then we're not changing the way that we train, right? So Sasha had said they were 10-20-70, but it was really like, "10%, I'll do some onboarding, and then 90% go figure it out in the field." But when you're no longer hiring for experience, you also have to adjust your training, because that's why you wind up having retention problems, because first of all, they can't come up to speed the same way. It doesn't mean they can't come up to speed quickly, it's just that they don't come up to speed the same way, the same type of training, right?

Roy Dockery: You get into micro learning, people who are used to watching short YouTube videos to learn, versus people who stand over somebody's shoulder and try to watch, right? Even back, my undergrad was in education as well, right? There's different ways to instruct and teach people as well. So, I think there was a very traditional way that we taught people in field service that was very much vocational school, kind of apprentice, the novice journeyman kind of pathing, and we've got to switch that and allow it to be more dynamic, because you might bring somebody in that will actually attach to a more complicated idea than your traditional technicians, but then struggle with the basic things, just because they're more digital, they're more software oriented, they're more IT oriented. Right? So, looking at that, I think helps as you can recruit them, you can get them an offer, but if you know you're hiring a different type of people, and a different skill set, and a different behavior, then you also need to be different as a company and be dynamic, and shifting.

Roy Dockery: And I think the other thing important from training is that there is a lot of... I even, I was in Dallas yesterday and visited one of our former customers from my previous company while I was in town, because there's overlap in our current technology. But the one thing that we started finding out, especially when we started kind of having to bring in that second generation of technicians, somebody, I think Sasha had mentioned, you have maybe some dedicated technicians. So, I have two technicians who worked full-time at Parkland Hospital for a decade, but then that technician leaves, and then the new technician comes in, but we're only training them on the systems, right?

Roy Dockery: But your culture of how you interact with your customers, now we had to figure out how do we train on culture? How do we train on the way that we talk to the pharmacy directors? How do you train on the way that you interact with a police chief, right? Because, well, even now, I'll get escalations like, "Who the heck is this new guy?" The new guy isn't doing anything wrong, right? They're doing the job to the books, but there was something that we were doing before that we didn't document, that was kind of a part of the culture that somebody did based on experience, that we never codified, wrote down, and then formalize into that training. So, the fact that that experience isn't there, especially if you're in food service or whatever industry, we also have to understand from a training perspective that we've got to loop that stuff in as well.

Roy Dockery: So, I can't just train you on the technology, I also need to train you on our customers, and what our customers expect, and how we interact with them, and like, "Here's examples of some of the communication that we have," and almost kind of letting them see the way that that navigates, because they can be traveling with somebody training, but they're only looking at the equipment, right? So, they're so busy staring at the machine that they're terrified about how knowing how to fix, that they're ignoring all of the interaction with the customer. I mean, we had to go down to how do you check in in security? Because they would just be following the person they're training, and the person training has a badge, and you try to come back to a hospital and walk through the front door without a badge on, security's going to hunt you down.

Roy Dockery: So, it's just even simple things like that, to how do you walk into a facility? Who do you contact? Those are things as well that I think as we're shifting this dynamic and hiring different people, different generations with different backgrounds, that you also have to focus on training the customer experience, and kind of onboard people to the culture and the way that you expect them to interact not just with your systems, but also with your customers and other people in the field.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. So, that makes sense, but I want to just take one step back, because I do think that people here probably also want to hear more about how do we get more people, and then we can talk a little bit about how do we train them, how do we keep them, right? So, you brought up the point, Roy, that in field service, we have a bit of a marketing problem. Okay? And so, I agree, and I think that when we were hiring on experience, it wasn't as big of a problem, because you were trying to bring in people that were already familiar with what it meant. Now it becomes a bigger problem, because you're trying to bring in people that have no clue and no awareness, right?

Sarah Nicastro: And so, I want to talk about one of the things I know you did when you were at Swisslog, which is you changed the way you were writing the job description, so that they didn't mention field service. So, it was more , and I think you said you were targeting people from Chick-fil-A or something.

Roy Dockery: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: But you kind of focused it more on the customer service, the aspects of what were the fundamental requirements for the role, versus calling it field technician, etc. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Roy Dockery: Yeah. And so yeah, on that recruiting side, yeah, she mentioned, I always joke that like, find me somebody at Chick-fil-A with a screwdriver, and I'll hire them in a heartbeat. They've got the service stuff, if you can fix anything, I will train you. We literally have done that. I actually have a manager that's in Dallas that got banned from local Best Buys, because he kept recruiting their Geek Squad members. But so, he was going a little rogue.

Sarah Nicastro: Hopefully there's no one here from Best Buy.

Roy Dockery: Yeah, I think his photo might be up at a local Best Buy. And so, the main thing is when you talk about a job description, people are looking for jobs. We know we've got a branding problem, people don't know field service exists, but then we put very field service-specific stuff in our job descriptions, right? The way that we describe them, we talk about sometimes proprietary equipment that there's no way anybody would've ever worked for it. I call them "Dear John" letters, like you read a job posting that's like, you must be trying to hire your former technician, because no one else would meet these requirements. I spoke at an event, and I put up companies that was at the event, I put their job description up on a PowerPoint presentation, it was like, "Literally, no one who's never worked at your company could meet 80% of these requirements."

Roy Dockery: So, knowing that people are using search engines almost like Google, if somebody has a customer service background or maybe they worked in hardware, what we started doing and even, I mean, a lot of people in field service hire ex-military, there was a giant military friendly, all caps block at the top of our resumes... So, if you typed in that you were in the military, it would literally, it would pull our job posting to you because of the words that we put in it.

Roy Dockery: So, it's not focusing on experience, focusing on customer service, the ability to use hand tools, right? It sounds really rudimentary, but can you read a schematic, right? Do you use a multi-meter? Do you understand basic software? And then when people look at what the company does, the expansion of, I called it we didn't necessarily change where we were fishing, but we changed the net. So, when your job description is very specific, it's like you're using one lure that only your trout will bite, but when I need to fill a hundred positions or double the size of my service organization, I need a net that'll catch anything that's relatively around, that I can then bring in and train.

Roy Dockery: So, it's getting specific in those job descriptions, removing your specific equipment. A lot of people vote themselves out, even though you're willing to hire people with less experience because you see it work in your organization, but we don't go back and change our job description, right? We started comparing our best performing new employees to our job descriptions, and they didn't match. So, we used to have an associate's degree as preferred or desired, and then I went and looked, I had managers in field service who didn't have associate's degrees. So, I'm like, "Why is this in our job description?" Right? Like two to five years of experience, or three to five years in the military, I have people who are our top performers right now that don't meet any of those requirements.

Roy Dockery: So, it's even taking some of your top performers, and even your new top performers, and saying, "Okay, our hiring managers hired them, but normally it's because they were referred or they knew somebody. Interestingly enough, they got in around your recruitment process because your normal recruitment process would've screened them out, and they would've never gotten interviewed." So, I think the job description and the job posting both, right? Your recruitment team kind of memorizes your job description, and that's what they're going to. So, review the job description, change the job description first, then update your job postings, and stop being so specific with your job titles. It doesn't matter what you call it within the company, right? You can call the job whatever you want in the company, like post it as a couple of different things, post it as field service, post it as a field technician, post as an install technician, because again, this is keywords, people are looking for different roles.

Roy Dockery: And the last thing I'll say, in my current company, I got there, we're tripling the size of the field service organization, but they were struggling hiring people, and I was like, "Well, what are you recruiting for?" And they were like, "We're recruiting for install technicians," and I said, "Recruit for field technicians." Five times the number of applicants applying, just because we changed one word, the description exactly the same, one posted as an install technician, one posted as a field technician, and we've got mirrored postings in the same areas, all the field technician roles are getting filled, just for changing that title.

Roy Dockery: But when you put engineers, some people exclude themselves, "Well, I'm not an engineer, so I can't be a field service engineer." So, even being specific about the words that we're using in those posts. So, you can hire them and call them whatever you want, but when you're recruiting, use terms that people will come across and not feel intimidated to apply, right? I think that's one of the things, people feel intimidated to apply, and you're hiring managers would hire them and be willing to train them in a heartbeat, but they're not getting through the screening process, they're not getting the recruiting process, so you're not landing the talent.

Sarah Nicastro: Makes sense. All right. Now, Katy, you said you've had some success working with trade schools, and Roy, I know not only are you former military, but I know at Swisslog you had success recruiting military. Are there other sources either of you would point to as good potential?

Katy Chandler: Well, we also have used military. We're partnering with several different military organizations. We also have really ramped up our referral, internal referral program, which has helped us to some degree, but those are always pretty good hires. So, even if the stats don't necessarily reflect huge levels of hiring, they're usually more committed. We have, I think a 50% success rate from just a recommendation, "Here's someone that I know," to a hire, which is better than any other applicant stat there. So, that's been helpful for us to help supplement some of that, so we're really trying to push that, and we'll pay referral bonuses to our own employees for submitting people.

Roy Dockery: Yeah, and the same thing, referral bonuses, pushing incentives, trade schools, and also, and depending on the role, I've always really wanted to deal with technical high schools. There's a lot of high schools now that basically want people to graduate with an associate's degree, if you have jobs that don't require travel, right? That's the other thing about field service, we kind of unintentionally age discriminate, because you can't rent a car in most places until you're 21, and in some areas, 25, depending on what rental car company you use. So, and then they require credit cards, and all of this other stuff for travel.

Roy Dockery: And so, the one thing I do like about our current company is that we went... Because we had personal credit cards at my last company, now we have purchase cards that are given to all field service technicians, through a platform called Liquid, so that's allowing us to hire some younger people as well. So, I think that's the other thing is that there are a lot of different avenues, but you also have to remove internal obstacles, whether that's a credit requirement, and things like that as well, because if you want to hire younger people with less experience, they're more than willing to come in, they'll cost you less money, they'll work harder, but they're not going to have a credit card.

Roy Dockery: So, do you take the risk and then do something with the finance department to offer that? Because that's the one limitation we had at my previous company with trade schools or technical schools, it was, "Are you old enough to rent a car, and do you have a credit card?" And that would eliminate a lot of my younger candidates, and now that's not a problem at my current company, with the exception of a rental car. But yeah, so with our standard positions, we can hire, and then they have access to credit through the company, which can be a limitation as well when you're trying to grow your organization.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that's a good tip. Okay, so I don't want to focus too much on this part, because it came up in the conversation with Sasha, and we won't have a lot of time to get into it, but just to kind of go linearly, so we're talking about how to bring people in. The other part of this is what do people today want, right? So, this is the part we've kind of touched on, which is it's important to note it's different than it was five years ago, 10 years ago, right? So, people want a good company culture, people want purpose, people want career development opportunities, people want flexibility, right?

Sarah Nicastro: So again, the same way we're talking about becoming more creative and examining how you're posting jobs and what internal barriers might exist, you need to do the same with what's the value proposition for the employee, and is it what it should be? And if not, is it because you truly cannot accommodate some of the things that they want, or is it because you're just refusing to evolve what you're doing? I had a gentleman on the podcast not too long ago, that is the creator of, and I thought this was a really good piece of advice, is the best source of feedback for what you need to do differently for recruiting, is to ask people that don't accept positions, offers, why, and then really take that seriously, and see if you can incorporate that into your value proposition.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, so let's talk a little bit more about training. So Katy, I know this is your key focus.

Katy Chandler: Wheelhouse.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes. And so, as DuraServ has kind of accepted the fact that it's becoming unicorn-like to find people with experience, how are you changing what you're doing from a training and development perspective, to bring in people and train them up?

Katy Chandler: Sure. So, just as a historical sort of example, a lot of the growth that we've had over the last 20 years has been by way of acquisition, a lot organic as well, but you really see the contrast when you acquire a business. And one example that we had of this when we acquired a particular business maybe eight, 10 years ago or so, we were having a conversation with the former owner, talking through a little bit of due diligence on their people, and he referenced a particular technician and said, "Well, he's been with me for six years. He's almost ready to go on to his own vehicle and be on his own."

Katy Chandler: And even 10 years ago, my jaw dropped and I'm thinking, "This is not sustainable. There is no way that this can be our process," and I wasn't even in learning and development at the time, but recognizing that that's where a lot of our competitors are at, and that's where a lot of our particular industry is at, is really sobering. And so, even if we take a slight step in the direction of building some structure around some training process, we're doing good. So, I think for us, just recognizing that we needed to make a move, even if we don't have the program perfect, we're stepping in the right direction.

Katy Chandler: So, we have started to build out really a career progression, starting with our field technicians. Ideally, we want to do this in all the departments, but starting with the largest group of people, and the ones that have the highest turnover, and the hardest to recruit, and do the actual work for our customers. We built out apprentice up to master technicians, so tech one, two, three, four, and so on, develop the competencies of what that means behind the scenes, assign pay scales behind the scenes, and then give them a plan where they can do that 70-20-10. We have a learning management system where they can watch video courses, learn, kind of take the edge off, because that is still just 10%, but understand the basics of the product that we work on, and then give them a tool.

Katy Chandler: We actually give them what we call a demo book, where they take that around and they ride with another technician, they're seeing this in the field, they're participating in it, and when they are competent, they actually get signed off in their demo book in the field, to advance further along, so they have control. And to your point about what people are looking for, I think in current times, people are looking for a little more involvement, not waiting for a year for an annual review to be able to say, "Here's what I did," or "I get a dollar raise," or whatever that looks like, but to be able to have some ability to move that needle faster, if they want to.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, if they want to.

Katy Chandler: If they want to.

Sarah Nicastro: And that's the thing, I like the word you said is "control," so they have control over how fast they want to progress, or if they just want to hang out a bit at the initial level.

Katy Chandler: Then that's kind of up to them, and we've sort of framed it that way, and you can take your own initiative here, and for some of those people who don't want to, then they know where they're at. They know where they can go, and the next step, and if they're kind of happy where they are, they're going at a slower pace, and that's okay. They don't all have to become master technicians within five years. We're not expecting that we're going to just completely turn everybody into master techs that quickly, but it gives them a path, and it also gives the leadership a little bit more tools in their tool bag to be able to have those conversations on performance on, "How are you moving forward?" or "How are you choosing to not develop?" They have some stake in the game.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I think I was just thinking about something Roy and I have talked about before. So, I think another change to all of this is thinking about the fact that this is really ongoing farming of talent, right? Because people aren't going to want to stay stagnant in roles for 5, 10, 15, 20 years like they have historically, right? So, the idea of a very transparent, intuitive sort of self-paced progression like, "What is the opportunity, and how do I achieve as much as I want, as fast as I want?", is certainly smart.

Sarah Nicastro: I think the other thing, and Roy, we talked about this with your experience at Swisslog, is to maybe just accept the fact that the majority, or at least a certain percentage of field technicians just aren't going to remain field technicians, okay? And so, I know at Swisslog, you almost used that role as a farm for talent, not in progression, but within different areas of the business. So, it was a way to bring people in, get them exposed to the Swisslog culture and technology, and then when they wanted, they could move to different areas of the business.

Roy Dockery: Yeah, and I think, and yeah, as she was talking, that's exactly where my mind was going as well, because the one thing, even just from a generational difference, we talked about it before, people don't really want a job, a lot of people are kind of pursuing a calling, right? They're like, "There's purpose, there's mission, that's what I want to do." And so, we can't just develop people in kind of these very binary things like, "You're a technician, so let me train you in being a technician," because you've got a technician who likes to sell things, or likes to train customers, and so, you have all of these different variables, or you have a mechanic who builds computers in his free time.

Roy Dockery: That was always the weird thing about being in the military, right? I had mechanic friends in the Navy who built computers, so I'm like, "Your job is to be a mechanic and to work on a turbine engine, but in your free time, but when you got out the military, nobody would know that. Everybody would think you were a mechanic." And so, that's why one of the reasons I started recruiting that way, because I knew electricians who were mechanics, I knew mechanics who were computer technicians, right? I knew throttle men that ran boats, who were computer programmers in their free time. So, that whole full skill set, people want to use them all at work, right? So, I think even from a training perspective, it's how do we also give them exposure to things outside of just their own space?

Roy Dockery: So, even now, or even at my current company, when I coach and when I talk to our teams and our leaders, I'm like, "Everyone has two paths in a career, in my opinion. You can be a leader of people, or you can be an individual contributor," right? So, a leader of people, you can go lead a group of people in any function, but as an individual contributor, what do you want to do? Do you want to do sales? Do you want to do support? Then it's our job as leaders in the organization to make sure that we get you exposure to it, because it might be a skill you have, but it's not something you want to do at work. There's some skills you have, you just don't want to get paid for. I have a podcast, she has a podcast. I don't want to get paid to do a podcast, because I don't want do it consistently, right? I don't want to have 148 episodes, right?

Roy Dockery: So, it's that drive of what's there, and so, I think creating that space where even if it's a learning module that they can take to just figure out what your customer success managers do, what does a day in the life of a project manager look like, right? So, I have people from my team that have gone into project management, customer success, sales. I used to say I like infecting the DNA of field service into the other departments, and at my last company, I did it in every department, except for finance. So, I had someone in my team literally in every organization in the company, and it's just that farming of talent because they come in, they understand the customers, they understand the products. So, for them to work in sales, or inside sales, or account management, or in product management, solutions engineering, our sales consultants, our professional services people come from the field, it's a great place, but it also gives that career path where a lot of times, we look at retention as a departmental goal, and not an organizational goal, right?

Roy Dockery: So, are we trying to retain talent at Smart Care, or at Flock, or at a company, or am I trying to keep them on my team, so I don't have to bother to continue to hire people? So, one of the shifts for my hiring managers were, "No, we want to hire people and keep them in the company. I don't care if they stay here." Right? So, "Give me a year, do the job well, and then I want you to go be successful other places within the organization," but that requires some exposure, some communication, allowing them to shadow a project engineer or a project manager, go have lunch with a salesperson or a customer success manager, because yeah, maybe it's a one-on-one that they need to have, but it's not a one-on-one with a field service manager, it's a one-on-one occasionally with someone in project management, because that's their interest.

Roy Dockery: So, it's connecting that relationship, understanding what the interests are, but yeah, farming talent for the entire organization, because coming out of field service, I think in any company, there's a lot of places where that level of exposure and understanding of the customer can drive success to the overall business long term.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I think the point you brought up about people have different strengths they want to lean into, or different passions that they want to lean into, it takes me back to Sasha's point about the importance of one-on-ones, and that direct manager engagement and commitment, right? Because that's how you find out what those strengths and what those passions are, in a way that allows you to look for how they can use them either in their current role, or somewhere else in the business, instead of letting them get frustrated, or bored, or disengaged, and just go elsewhere, right? So, I think that's important.

Sarah Nicastro: I think the other element here is thinking about what does the role or roles of field service look five years from now, 10 years from now, right? That is definitely changing. In my opinion, it's going to be more segmented, right? I think as we move into a world where there is more remote service, and where the role of the technician is more of that trusted advisor role, I think you can see sort of almost different segmentation of roles, right? So, maybe you have someone at a certain level or title that stays responsible for the actual mechanics of whatever it is that you're fixing, but then you have someone that's more of a trusted advisor or customer success role that's more customer-facing. Maybe you have remote field technicians that don't go in the field, et cetera, right? So, starting to think now about what that future looks like, so that you're at least aware of, or starting to think about what skills and capabilities you need to be thinking about bringing in.

Sarah Nicastro: So, what about retention? That's kind of the other side of this, is how do we keep the people we have? And we talked about career paths, and sort of mapping people either in an advancement, or to other areas of the business. What are some of the other things related to retention that we should touch on?

Katy Chandler: I think one that we've just recently started talking about is what you were just saying, like remote technical assistance, that would be relatively new for us, but thinking about, especially in our aging tech force, when you've got someone who has all this knowledge and they want to share it, and just physically might be getting to the point where this isn't what they're able or wanting to do anymore in the field, trying to tap that knowledge in a way that it can still support the people who are younger in their career and excited about learning, to kind of create another layer of technical support for those younger, or earlier career, may be a better, more PC way of saying that, but trying to tap that knowledge and really create a career path for that person who's been in the field for so long, to still use their expertise and share it with others.

Roy Dockery: Yeah, and to tie to that, I had a policy which took me a lot of fighting with our executive team, because I would retire technicians in tech support. So, if they're aging out, like you said, someone had a back surgery, shoulder surgery, and now they're limited, and they physically can't do the job anymore, but the reason I had to fight it, because the average salary of a technician who's been here for 30 years is significantly higher than the average salary of what you would be hiring somebody on. And so, we tried it out and then, but that's almost our policy now.

Roy Dockery: So, our process, and even at our current company, I have somebody that goes out on medical leave or has restrictions. Our new company, we do a lot of outdoor installations, they've got to dig holes, because we put poles up, but my first reaction is always, "Can we use them in tech support? Can we be utilized in tech line?" And if they go there, if they want to stay there, then stay there. I already have somebody fully trained. So, I think that that's a good transition. And yeah, so from a retention perspective, definitely trying to keep as much of that information within the organization as possible is helpful, and sometimes it's a cost benefit, but it's definitely beneficial to retain that, and people see that, right?

Roy Dockery: So, when we talk about the longevity, and I had mentioned it when I was talking to Jim over there, if you look at your attrition, your people who have been there for the long time aren't the ones leaving. So, the other thing I would say with retention is yes, I think exit interviews are good, but when you start focusing on fixing all the things of the people who are exiting your organization, who have been there for a year, but you're not actually asking questions on what's making the people stay, who have been there for 15 years, you'll wind up changing the company that was driving your retention. So, there's something that they're staying about, right? Because it might've just been a bad job fit, maybe we're just not hiring the right people, but then you start adjusting business processes and culture, because the people who you hire resign within a year.

Roy Dockery: But so, that's the one thing, just make sure you don't just focus on the attrition, that you actually make plans from a culture perspective, based on your retention, right? Because we tend to focus on attrition a lot, and then we start doing stuff for the 10% that are leaving, and we ignore the 90% that have stayed through economic downturns, and recessions, and everything else, especially in field service. So, I think you've got to do both. Don't ignore what people are saying, but also ask the question to the people who are still there.

Katy Chandler: I would want to add just one thing to that. I think there's so much about leadership in the retention process, and stay interviews, or however you want to phrase that, on tapping into why the people are staying, is a leadership aspect. So, really investing in your leaders, the middle management you were talking about earlier, specifically those frontline managers who may have come up in the ranks from field service themselves, and may not feel fully confident in that, that's really paid off for us. So, really making those people feel very comfortable, building cohorts where they can interact with one another, and really feel like they have support, has really helped us in that way.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that's a good point, and I think I was just going to say, Rudy, the question you asked about pay equity, I mean, it's something to really think about, because we're talking about how hard it is to hire, right? And so, they always say it's easier to keep the customer you have than to get new ones, and the same can be said of employees, if they're doing quality work, right? So, that's another area to focus on. Okay, so we are going to run out of time, but any other aspects of this puzzle that we have not touched on that we should?

Katy Chandler: I would say one thing, just kind of going back to culture and a little bit of what Sasha was saying, we talk about our organization a lot in terms of the technical service side of the business, the sales side of the business. The third tier there is the support staff, the everybody else, and historically, we've just kind of called that admin, and it's just become the catchall. If you're not in sales and you're not in service, then you're in this group, and we've recently, just through employee engagement surveys and other things, we've recently realized we need to put our hands around that group, because they support very much the service side of the business, and drive our internal culture a lot.

Katy Chandler: So, we have really made a concerted effort to remarket internally, brand that group, give them an identity. We call them shared team services now, we do a quarterly event for them. It may seem counterintuitive when we're wanting to focus so much on field service, but we have found that that's starting to pay off, because they support and interact so much with the field technicians, that building up that group and giving them some sense of purpose and identity can drive the retention there in other ways, that I think the hope is that that drives retention throughout the business as well.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that makes sense. Okay. Questions for Roy and/or Katy? Yes.

Audience member: Okay. Well, two questions. So, you talk about we have the generations changing the problem outside that, we have the generation Y for a while, and now we have a new generation, Millennials and Zennials, but we have a commitment problem, right? That generation has a commitment problem. So, how are you tackling that commitment problem? That's the first one. And second, many things were mentioned, as I think as a transformation in your organizations on pushing new things and how to recruit, how to retain, how to ensure we keep and attract new talent. How do you push those changes in organizations, making sure that the new ways of attracting talent are sustained in the organization?

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. So, first question talking about generational differences, and particularly, you're saying the commitment from the young generations. So, any thoughts or advice on that?

Roy Dockery: Yeah. As the Millennial field service executive, one of three probably seemingly in the country, I actually disagree with that statement. I think one of the problems is we need to stop generalizing generations, right? So, the level of commitment and engagement that you can get from younger people, if they believe in what you do, will exceed anything that you've probably seen from people that'll come to work and clock out. They'll work 16 hours a day if they're passionate about it, but the difference is what they're committed to. They're not committed to a job, they're not committed to the income that's required to take care of their families, and remember, these people are the children of your committed employees, who are telling their children, "Don't be committed and underpaid," right?

Roy Dockery: So, that's the generational problem. You've got hard-working dads and moms that are like, "I don't want you to work as hard as me, because I don't feel like that commitment was reciprocated." So, I think some of that is driving that generational thing, and so, you've got to give them something to commit to, right? And if they don't really have it, then they'll get the money and they'll use it, and then they'll just keep trying to find something that benefits them, or that they can resonate with. But it also differs from people, like you'll hire people from different generations that are all military, ex-military, and they all behave the same.

Roy Dockery: So, some of it is behavioral, and I think you've got to understand the behavioral profile of your existing employees, which Sarah knows I talked about for years of doing behavioral assessments, of your technicians and understanding what their attitude and what their behavioral profile is, so that you can hire people across generations that have similar behavior. We don't know why our older people are committed, but we're assuming it's because they're older, and again, that's a generalization, it's not. They're committed because they have a certain behavior and culture that they ascribe to, and you can find that same behavior in people across generations, you just have to know what that behavior is.

Roy Dockery: And on the second part, if the organization wants to do something, you really have to, and anyone here that's in leadership, you have to teach the rest of your company what field service is, and what the impact is, right? So, you've got to be able to speak to finance, you got to be able to speak finance, but in field service terminology, right? When they talk about revenue recognition, I've got to talk about technician count and utilization, right? So, it's being able to navigate... I see someone over here nod like, "Yep." When you talk to engineering, I talk to engineering in a field service context, but based on the impact to the field, and the attrition rate, and all that other stuff, because everybody wants the work to get done.

Roy Dockery: So, it's like you've got to learn how to navigate in those spaces but get them to understand it. The stuff that you're pushing down, at the end of the day, there are physical people who need to do this, and that is a limitation. I can't do more work than this amount of people can actually execute, so then you've got to roll that mentality up through the organization, so we're not overcommitting, burning people out, and then not appreciating the sacrifices of the people in the field.

Katy Chandler: I think that was all very well said.

Sarah Nicastro: All right. Any other questions? Yeah.

Audience member: Yeah. So, thanks a lot. Thanks a lot, Roy and Katy. Katy, question to you. So, you mentioned not being able to find unicorns, which I think we all have that problem. What's your experience from accelerating the time that it takes to being able to send somebody up by themselves to the customer? What's your experience of accelerating that time?

Katy Chandler: Yeah. So, the program that we're putting in place is helping to accelerate that time, and what it's also doing is giving us more consistency. So, what we found is maybe a local manager thinks this person's ready to go independently on their own, and then they do, and then all of a sudden, we find out there was just one little piece that somehow they missed in their first six months somewhere, because we didn't have it well-documented on these things have to, have to be done before this person can be independent.

Katy Chandler: So, not only has it accelerated that time and shortened that a bit, our goal used to be somewhere around six months, we would get someone to be able to do some of our work independently up to a certain level, and that was kind of what that would look like. What we've done is said, "Okay, within an eight week onboarding program, you should now at the end of this eight weeks with this accelerated plan and program," somewhere around eight weeks, some people take longer, that's fine, "You should be able to go independently and do some of our work with a set list." So, that has compressed that quite a bit for us, and then as it goes up the train, shortening all those other advancements.

Roy Dockery: Yeah, and one thing I'll add to that, and to your point, I think when you talk about trying to get a technician to revenue recognition, we used to try to peanut butter spread training. So, we got to the point to where the first step of your certification, because we used a qual card because almost everybody on my team was ex-Navy, but we'd get you to maintenance first. So, we'll get you to be able to do maintenance on these products, and then okay, then I can start recognizing revenue, having you do maintenance, you understand the product, and then once you understand maintenance, then it's installation, and then okay, if you can do maintenance, you can do an install, I can trust you to do a service call.

Roy Dockery: And so, we started kind of fragmenting it a little bit so that we could get somebody really good at something, and then put them in the field and let them do it where before, it was three, four months, we give you relative exposure to everything that we do, and then you're really good at none of it, and then we kind of throw you out there and be like, "Figure it out." So, I think even breaking that up to say, "Okay, start with this activity, and I can recognize revenue there and then build from there," it also helps with their confidence. I found that and it's self-paced, like if you do maintenance and you're able to do that without breaking the machine, when it comes to doing install, you're more comfortable and you learn installation faster, you learn troubleshooting faster. So, breaking some of that down and making that the onboarding process, I think it helps a lot as well, especially if you have complex technology, to segment it a bit.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. Anything else?

Audience member: Yeah. It was mentioned about 96% of the workforce being male, and 4% being female. You mentioned changing one word changed your entire script with people that came in to hire. Have you had any success breaking the barrier with females at the technician level?

Roy Dockery: No, because one of the main things that I see in limitations for, because a lot of times, women are the primary caregiver, it's to travel. One thing I did find, it was harder for us for fill, but when you talk about remote technical support, that's the job. When we start hiring systems analysts, that's the job. So, the same skill set, but the travel requirement wasn't there. So, now we have probably half of the tech support team, and even now my tech line team, our operators, people who are doing similar functions that don't require the travel demand and short notice to go fly somewhere, we can fill them in that regard, and then if we had any dedicated resident technician roles where this is your site and your responsibility, so it's more of a kind of controlled environment that people can plan for, that's what allowed us to hire more women in the field.

Roy Dockery: But in technical roles in general, we made sure that we were pivoting and honestly focusing on, okay, do we have female candidates applying for tech support roles, or these other roles where we know that the field service job, it's like everyone's been dealing with it for years, but I mean, because they really, they honestly don't even apply. Right? You don't even get a lot of applicants. So, we started getting a lot more on the tech support side when we reduced those experience requirements. They haven't traditionally been in the roles, so you reduce those experience requirements, and put customer service, and things like that, you'll get more female candidates. But if you have resident technicians or roles that don't have to travel out, I would say you'll start seeing more women apply for that, especially if they have families and things of that nature as well.

I hope you enjoyed that discussion with Roy, Katy, and some of the audience members from the Austin Live Tour. This was episode number 175 of the podcast which means there is 174 others that you are welcome to check out. You can find those and a lot more of our content by visiting us at We're also on LinkedIn as well as Twitter @thefutureofFF. The future of field service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at As always, thank you for listening. 

Most Recent

August 3, 2022 | 25 Mins Read

Baxi’s Path to Heat-as-a-Service

August 3, 2022 | 25 Mins Read

Baxi’s Path to Heat-as-a-Service


James Galloway, Head of Product Marketing - Commercial, UK & Ireland at BDR Thermea Group, talks with Sarah about why and how Baxi (one of BDR Thermea’s brands) has introduced Heat-as-a-Service and shares his thoughts on what makes this business model transformation both challenging and worthwhile. 

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today, we're going to be talking about what it takes to bring the as-a-service vision to life. I'm joined today by James Galloway, who is the Head of Product Marketing for Commercial, UK and Ireland, at Baxi Heating. James, welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast.

James Galloway: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.

Sarah Nicastro: That was a mouthful. Okay.

Sarah Nicastro: Baxi is on the journey to bring heat-as-a-service to its customer base. Today we're going to talk a little bit about James's experience and Baxi's experience in terms of why we're on this journey or you're on this journey, what some of the drivers for that are, what some of the reasons or ways are that you think it will benefit the various stakeholders, and then just some of what you've experienced thus far. Before we get into all of that, tell everyone a little bit more about yourself. Anything you want to share about yourself, your role, and then for those that are not UK, just a little bit about Baxi's business.

James Galloway: Cool. My name is James Galloway. I'm the Head of Product Marketing for UK and Ireland business. Now, that's with Baxi Heating, one of the major brands for BDR Thermea Group. BDR Thermea Group is the owning company. We operate worldwide in more than 100 countries with turnover of just over 2.1 billion euros, so quite a sizable company, market leader in commercial heating, and also in a major company in residential heating as well, we also do cooling. So it is really about HVAC heating ventilation and air conditioning is our sole focus as a company. Now, in the UK, we've been present for a long time, more than 150 years now. We've got the long legacy through merchant acquisition as well. We've grown, but we've got a lot of experience. Really we're a manufacturing company. That's what we are as an organization. We're extremely good at making millions of products exactly the same high quality and selling them as a transactional sale. That's our business model. We employ almost 9,000 people across the world, largely within Europe, but a global presence.

Sarah Nicastro: Good. Okay. We're embarking on the journey of transitioning from selling these products to delivering them as a service. How would you describe where Baxi is on that journey today?

James Galloway: It is a journey. We've got a roadmap which we've developed together with some of the academic partners and industry partners as part of a servitization project, which we can talk a little bit about later, but it describes this journey towards servitization. And in very simplistic terms, I think we're on step maybe one and a half or two out of three in super simple terms. We've got a product, we offer servicing, we service, we have a service level agreement where we go and fix maintenance issues of our heating products typically within 24 hours, typically much faster than that actually, mostly ourselves, but also with service partners. We're doing that really well today. What we are not doing is we're just starting to explore leasing, so finance models, which we can combine with the servicing to offer products on finance and also almost guarantee the heating.

James Galloway: So almost guaranteeing because if it's a failure, we're not yet able to predict that. We're pretty close with predictive maintenance and preventive maintenance. We're just starting to do remote diagnostics one-way and two-way. Now, heat-as-a-service, it's all of that and more. It's actually being able to share the usage of heating, which is controlled by the consumer. And then we guarantee the delivery of whatever the consumer is asking for typically through an app or some kind of control interface depending on the customer type. That's quite a big leap actually from steps one and two where we're offering the products on a transactional basis, but also the maintenance side. It is quite a big step largely through... Well, we can talk about it in more detail, but largely because of that, the systems that you need to have to actually make all of that work, millions of data points simultaneously being analyzed to make sure that you can respond or predictively and proactively prevent a maintenance issue from coming up to guarantee that heat outcome.

James Galloway: But it's a really exciting point because it's the hockey stick moment. I'd say we're just on the cusp of that hockey stick moment, very close to being able to actually feasibly and viably demonstrate heat-as-a-service in its full form.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. That's really exciting. Let's talk a little bit about some of the drivers for this journey. If we take a step back from where you are, let's talk about what were the reasons that Baxi decided to go this route?

James Galloway: There were lots of strategic risks that we're following, but this one specifically, it's on our strategy and we've invested in it because it solves a really important customer dilemma. And one is largely because it's about affordability of specific technology types that help to decarbonize. Now, Baxi and BDR Thermea predominantly customers buy gas-heated products, gas-fueled products from us. We also manufacture heat pumps, direct electric heating. We're investing a lot in hydrogen heating as well with live perception and demonstrations in the field. But our customers, they are buying gas products from us most of the time, because it's the cheapest. And a lot of our customers, they really want to install lower carbon forms of heating. Let's take heat pumps as an example, they are however much more expensive. The hardware is more expensive, much lower volume. So the cost of manufacturers is higher.

James Galloway: There's a dilemma for a customer who wants to decarbonize, but they can't afford it. And that's where heat-as-a-service can really help with that. What's different from heat-as-a-service from a finance model, because a finance model also solves that dilemma. A finance model, you can amortize that the upfront capital cost of a contract that term, and so you also solve that issue. But heat-as-a-service specifically puts the control in the hands of the consumer. And that is the key bit is because that... Especially today's world, recently we've seen global events, geopolitical events, which have really increased the cost of fuel. And so we've got the cost, especially in the UK, the cost of living crisis, which is in the news all the time.

James Galloway: It's exacerbated this customer problem of A, wanting to decarbonize and reduce dependency on gas, but B, have it affordable. And then there's a third point. C, you're having control of that. And being able to decide, okay, do I need to... What's more important for me, save money or have more heating comfort? Or even better choose when you really need the heating and hot water comfort. In a household context, that would be, well, maybe you don't need to heat your study or your back bedroom or something all days of the week. You can really choose and select how you economically heat your home, or if your commercial business, how you heat and provide hot water for your premises. For example, a hotel might not, depending on your occupancy rates, you economically heat and provide hot water for your property. It's the dilemma, but also improved control and improved usage. It's been quite clever about how we provide and use heat and hot water.

Sarah Nicastro: Ultimately, the primary driver or drivers are really around how heating is evolving based on environmental factors and the fact that that makes the product itself more expensive. So we need to look for different business models to make the new products affordable for customers to be able to leverage.

James Galloway: That's right. Yeah. On a very simplistic level, we exist as a company to solve problems for our customers. And heat-as-a-service, an outcome-based service business model in general, it's simply a solution to fix a problem. There are other solutions which fix that problem, but we feel that specifically, heat-as-a-service is one of the best solutions for A, helping to reduce that upfront cost, and B, put better control in. It's just a solution. If we can do it really well and it satisfies that problem, of course, as an organization, we will prosper from that as well.

Sarah Nicastro: Right. And it's a good point. You said there are other solutions and that's almost always the case, but I think one of the big benefits of as-a-service is the simplicity. Rather than the idea of, okay, well, we could finance your product, then you could pay for this service, it becomes more effort for customers to understand and track, et cetera, when it's just, you need X, we provide X, and you pay Y. It's a simpler customer experience really.

James Galloway: Right. And we're really used to that now. Look at Uber, for example, I suppose it's a good example. It's done exactly that. They formed, when is it, about 10 years ago now? And they're really taking advantage of technologies, which are now, everyone has got a mobile phone now. You've got that ability to use technologies. And also you've got customers who are familiar with it so that there's a level of readiness to adopt a new way of doing things. It's making it simpler. It's about using the technology around us to do what we've done before but in a simpler way. I think you're right with that.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And I think in some areas it's not only a readiness but a demand. That varies industry to industry, but I think the message at least for us, for service organizations, is, hey, this is the path that we're on. We used to say, "Well, customers don't care about products. They just want service," meaning the experience. And I think now it's customers don't really care about products or service. They just want the outcome. Right?

James Galloway: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Obviously, both are imperative to the outcome. But they don't care about the details. They just want to be able to trust that whatever you do is going to work how they need it when they need it. Period. And the onus is on companies like Baxi to figure out, okay, if this is the demand, how do we meet it? And that almost always means doing things differently. Yeah.

James Galloway: I was just going to say that most consumers don't know or care about their heating product. You've always got technically oriented consumers and you've always got people who do have genuine interest in what the heating product and technology is, not just at the point of purchase or coming up to the point of purchase, but through the lifetime, but the majority don't. You're exactly right. It's just, what's the outcome? That's what people care about. You know?

Sarah Nicastro: For sure. Okay. We talked a bit about how this as-a-service model, benefits Baxi's customers. It allows them to move toward a perhaps cost-restrictive environment, more environmentally friendly option, and it allows them to have better control over their usage and ultimately, what they're purchasing from Baxi. Let's talk a little bit about how you feel it will benefit Baxi as an organization.

James Galloway: Well, we're really trying to sell more heat pumps. And by the way, heat-as-a-service, it's not just for heat pumps, it's for all technologies that provide heat and hot water. Heat-as-a-service applies to all of them, but it's specifically useful as a solution for heat pumps because they are more expensive. And we want to sell more of them. It actually helps us to sell more because our cost of operations goes down, our fixed costs reduce. We can do that better. But until we can help customers to overcome those cost barriers which they're currently encountering, the uptake is going to be restricted. It helps us as an organization because we can increase the uptake of the product. And that helps us.

James Galloway: It helps finance our projects. You know, you have to have strong commercial viability in any project, new development when you're looking to invest, so if you can demonstrate a higher uptake, that ultimately helps us, not just with our current what we're doing, but also future strategic choices, investments, things like that. As a business model to introduce that, it will help us to accelerate the investment in that new technology type. And that's something that as an organization we must respond to. There's another side of that in the form of legislation. In the UK as a total government, we have a government that have set out a target to be net-zero by 2050 and a 78% reduction in CO2 by 2035.

James Galloway: In terms of product technology, legislative effects, or impacts for commercial buildings, you will not be able to put in gas-heated products from 2030 onwards for a residential new build, that's from 2025. So really near-term legislative significant impacts. That's also really significant for the organization. By introducing a new business model, which helps the uptake of heat pumps specifically and other zero or low carbon technologies, it helps us to be on track and ready for these legislative timelines that are coming up pretty quickly.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And if we think about the reason those legislation regulatory things exist, it's because we know that we all need to be doing more to protect the environment. The third benefit is also to the environment itself. First, you're taking a technology that's cost prohibitive and finding a way to make it affordable for people to put in place to replace some of the less environmentally friendly options. Two, you're allowing customers to have more control over usage, which obviously has an impact as well. And then the other thing that we see in the trend of servitization in terms of how it impacts the environment is it gives companies more freedom over putting measures in place to provide service more efficiently because you're providing the outcome versus billable hours. There's the more latitude to say, "Okay, well, let's look at remote diagnostics, let's look at remote service. Let's do these things," without customers saying, "Well, we're not going to pay for that because you're not on site." It doesn't matter because they're paying for the outcome.

Sarah Nicastro: Then you have an opportunity to become more efficient, both environmentally and then also cost-wise for the organization in how you deliver service. It is a really interesting conversation. James Galloway: And those are the big building blocks that underpin the offering of that service, the effective offering of that service. Heat-as-a-service sounds great. And also, by the way, what does heat-as-a-service mean? Sounds great in the strategy document. We should talk about how you get through to consumers into really what it means. I don't think a lot of consumers when you say heat-as-a-service, they know exactly what it means, but let's come to that in a moment. But the building blocks are actually effectively offering that. Like you said actually it's about remote diagnostics, it's about preventive diagnostics, and the next step of remote diagnostics. It's about taking all that data and having a really slick and effective and efficient field of operations, especially in the context of maintenance. Today we have hundreds of field engineers, all in vans, stocked with components every hour going to visit customers in the UK.

James Galloway: That just, if you can imagine, it’s  improved scheduling and going to site, not twice, because you go once to investigate and go back a second time with the right part. But just going once, that's a huge saving on fuel, you increase your utilization of the team. That's a cost saving for us, and it's an improved experience for the customer as well. But all of those operational ingredients are necessary before you can even get to that effective offering of heat-as-a-service. Those are really, really important parts to being able to offer that service.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And just reflecting on what you said, I think we talk about that part quite a bit. Some of the things that underpin the ability to deliver this model, but it makes me... There's two things I want to ask you about specifically. One is going back to the point you just made, which is how do you articulate the offering to customers in a way that they understand and find valuable?

James Galloway: We did a trial in 2019 together with the Energy Systems Catapult, the UK government organization, which is designed to help private companies to trial innovations. We did this trial with them in 2019. And part of that research and project was that we changed the naming to Warmth Hours. Warmth Hours is something that is tangibly understandable away from heat-as-a-service, which is it's not what it says and that means something to us, but it doesn't mean something to the typical customer. So Warmth Hours was something, and there were lots of different names that were discussed, but Warmth Hours, it really neatly said in a simple way that's understandable. And by doing that, we found that we had better engagement from customers because they knew what it was really about.

James Galloway: When they were using the app, which is something new and different, then they were able to understand, okay, I'm selecting the Warmth Hours that I want in that room as a schedule, almost a bit like an alarm clock on your phone. You've set the times. It's very similar, but for heating it and setting the temperature. That was a really important insight that we got from that project about how we enhance that awareness and engagement with the consumers. Yeah, that was good.

Sarah Nicastro: That makes sense. And I think it's a really important point because it's one of the struggles I see companies having, which is for an organization that has a deep, rich history, this level of change can be challenging. So you do all of this work to understand it, to communicate internally, to get everyone on the same page, to set a strategy, et cetera, and then take all of that internal talk and just send it out. And then wonder, well, wait, why isn't this resonating? It is really important to understand that the way we talk about this as an industry, as a business is not necessarily the same way our customers will want to hear the value proposition.

Sarah Nicastro: And that doesn't mean you're starting over; it's just reframing it into what matters to them. I always point to this example, I had a conversation once with a gentleman who was super frustrated because he was saying, "We've invested in IoT, and I don't understand why none of our customers want to buy it." And it's because they don't care. It doesn't mean that having IoT isn't important to whatever the value is they were trying to deliver. It's just that you're talking about it in terms that your customers don't connect with. I think that's a really important aspect.

James Galloway: A really great metaphor I heard once was and an easy one to think about is you design the key for the lock, not the other way around. And heat-as-a-service, certainly for BDR Thermea, it is a business model transformation. It's different to how things have been, are being done today, and how have been done in the past. That's effort. It's not like it was just the easiest thing for us to do and we're looking for customers. It's the other way around. And that's so important to have customer-led problem statements that you're thinking, okay, well, how do I solve that? And then challenging your assumptions and going and seeking that insight and really being thorough with that, to then frame your proposition and how you build a solution around that real genuine insight and take on the challenges and challenge your preconceptions is so important.

James Galloway: And it's taken us... 2019 is already now three years ago and that was already when we did the project. It was already thought about before that quite a long time, but I think it's really important to take the time to understand, take a step back, redesign, move forward. Yeah, absolutely customer first, really think about the problem statements that you want to solve, and then what's the right way of doing it.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. The other thing I wanted to ask you about, James, is related to the revenue model. Because this is another aspect of moving toward as-a-service or true servitization that I think companies get hung up on, manufacturers. It's one thing if you're a service organization or service business that is just transitioning from a contract or billable hours to a subscription model. That's a bit simpler. When we're talking about a product manufacturer who traditionally has operated on a CapEx model and recognized revenue that way, reconciled revenue that way, planned, et cetera, it's a far bigger leap. I just am wondering if there's anything you can say. And I know you're not a hundred percent there yet, but obviously, as a business, you understand what that means, what it will change, et cetera. Can you talk a little bit about that aspect of things and how you wrap your heads around what needs to change internally to be able to provide that?

James Galloway: It's a good question. I think there are a number of different aspects to that. First of all, how do we manage the finance risk, and what kind of finance partners are the right ones to work with? Going from 100% upfront revenue margin to potentially zero upfront, those are choices. And I think that depends on the customer type. We segment our customers and all customers have a certain level of credit risk. There are decisions there regarding how much risk are you willing to take on. Or if not yourselves and the business, the finance partners, what does that risk profile look like?

James Galloway: I think what's interesting is to think about not just the segmentation, but also how you go about getting the finance. Within the UK, we're well regulated, we've got Financial Conduct Authority, FCA that's very well regulated. And there are ways about getting financed for projects within the UK. I was speaking with the account services group, we just launched a project, actually, a UK government-funded project through Innovate UK for heat-as-a-service demonstration. We call the project Digital Servitization Demonstrator, and it's an all-sector demonstrator of outcome-oriented services. It's not just for heating-as-a-service, but first, that's what it was about. And one of our partners in that project, Koolmill, a really great company check them out if you're interested to look at what really progressive as-a-service looks like, it's K-O-O-L-M-I-L-L. They're a rice milling company.

James Galloway: They are looking at cross-border finance. They manufacture in the UK, but they're selling outside of the UK. One of their challenges is how do they find finance for cross-border trade? And it's unregulated. It's not regulated. There are no frameworks in place to really support that in the right way. Those are challenges as well. It's because it's so new, this business model it's not yet well established, and so that's a challenge. I think when you're looking at how to handle that, those are real issues in terms of a scale-up of a model when you're looking at expanding your business model into other markets. Unless you're willing to set up an organization within a country so that you can operate strictly within that country, that seems to be hard at the moment. I think there's work to do in terms of governments introducing the right legal frameworks around finance for cross-border. And that's what Koolmill are looking at now or facing at the moment. There's some work for us to do there as well, I think, within industry to understand what's the best method for that. That's another aspect.

James Galloway: I think one important aspect regarding organizational business decisions or choices is also cost of finance. Finding the right finance partner is important, but a consideration currently is that if you are looking for finance, which meets certain ESG criteria, sustainability criteria, then you will get better interest rates. One of our customers that we were speaking to recently, they were telling us, or one I'm trying to partner with, telling us that actually they can get finance half a percentage cheaper or more if they're able to show certain sustainability benefits. That's in an environment where interest rates are increasing, the cost of finance is increasing. There are significant benefits from being able to actually use a different business model that requires finance, but decarbonized or improves sustainability. I think there's a new perspective that this is this all new. Finance has been very cheap recently but as that changes, how will that change the decision-making of finance directors?

James Galloway: I think a lot is happening. It's happening, it's all now. I think it's the environment for scaled-up as-a-service. It's a bit harder because of some of those legal frameworks that are not yet in place, but absolutely is possible within a country. And in fact, it's incentivized. You can get a better interest rate. That's really great. We're starting to see banks really take that very seriously. It's quite a big question. It's a really good question. And it's a big unknown. For a company which is a manufacturing organization familiar with transactional sales, it is a bit of an unknown, but that's the role of partners. We see significant importance in collaborating to help us filling in some of those maybe strategic gaps that we have.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. No, it's a good point. And I think it's also worth mentioning that it is an unknown, but it hasn't stopped you from moving forward because the recognition of the need to evolve to this model is stronger than the fear of the unknown or the potential, whatever, hurdles of the unknown. That's I think a good point because sometimes companies try to answer every unknown before they start and that presents some really big challenges as well.

James Galloway: That's true. And I should add, on reflection, look at Rolls Royce. Power by the Hour, that was done in the seventies half a century ago. It's new for us. That's actually a better way of framing it.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

James Galloway: And that's one of the real significant, I think, barriers to internal uptake of a new business model is familiarizing with the unknown, which is risk. There's a lot of uncertainty in that. And that's a key, that's why this project that we've recently done, the Digital Servitization Demonstrator project, it's really important because it means by having a physical environment that's basic to go and see working examples of digitized service of hardware, show the business models, and then discuss the steps and challenges. It's there, it's right in front of you. You can have that discussion. And that's really important to talk out those challenges from every functional perspective, from an internal stakeholder buy-in perspective, and collaboration from all the different functional perspectives, that's really important.

James Galloway: We've just launched that, so it's really new for us, but we've already seen a lot of benefits just in a month already of having that space available to actually go and challenge internal preconceptions and then try and solve some of those internal issues.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. We've talked about quite a few of the challenges that Baxi has faced, that companies can expect to face. Are there any we haven't touched on that we should talk about?

James Galloway: I think it's worth talking about collaboration and partnerships, an acknowledgment that if you do want to scale up, but your organization isn't big enough for the opportunity. If I look at heat-as-a-service, there's 28 million households in the UK, residential dwellings, we cannot do maintenance on 28 million households at the same time to serve maintenance issues. There's a reliance on third parties there. And one of our research partners, Donaldson Engines, really, they're also looking at this. They're also a great company really worth looking into and they've gotten very progressive with what they're doing. They were telling us how they go about finding the right partners. And they've got a really interesting model, which is pay-as-you-go, or we will fix it for you, or we will work with someone who will fix it.

James Galloway: And just the way that they've split up their business model, or take to market approach specifically, was really on the back of understanding their liability. When you're working with third parties, how do you ensure the quality of the work being done? Because ultimately, you have financial liability for the outcome. I think that's almost like thinking out upfront what is your contractual liability that you want to build into a contract? How do you go about safeguarding yourself as an organization, through training, through auditing? Finding the right partnerships where you already haven't established a way of working together. There's that cultural fit. All those aspects are really important. Again, it's new for us, but in a way, it's intuitive because it's a human thing, but there has to be that legal contractual side of things as well.

James Galloway: I'm expecting that I want to go and make... I don't want to make mistakes, but I'm expecting to see them, but they're learnings and that's okay when you're going... and especially in the scale-up side of things, you can think in advance for what you're likely to encounter and build it in upfront to try and avoid that, but you expect the unexpected. I'm expecting to see little niggles of things that don't quite go right. So finding the right partner who's also prepared for that so that you can resolve those issues together, that's the key bit. My real point is when you've got that partnership model and you might have multiple partners, are you ready to fix issues together as you explore something new? I think that's a real crucial point, especially for the scale-up side of things.

Sarah Nicastro: That makes sense. What would you say, James, is your biggest lesson learned in all of this?

James Galloway: Oh, good question. A, that it takes time. Probably the biggest lesson learned is that we started with one customer segment because it seemed the most obvious to us. And we took a pause to reflect, look at what we've learned, and then we reassessed. And then now we're actually focusing on a different customer segment because of, well, some built-in assumptions that we had early on, largely about, well, some unknowns such as contract liability, loads of things. But we changed the customer segment group as our key target group. And it's a totally different segment. That was a big lesson learned that I wouldn't have expected, what didn't seem to be the obvious customer segment initially, but it was quite refreshing. It's a genuine, it's an authentic lesson that you learn by doing this.

James Galloway: I think really that came out of testing, trying it. Start small, test, learn. I use the word learn as an exchangeable term with fail and learn, but it's learn, you don't usually fail. But you learn, but do start small and take on those learnings and build it and step by step because also with a significant transformational change, a business model change, you need to get that internal senior stakeholder buy-in. Especially when there's a lot of risk or an uncertainty, it can be you don't want to inhibit the internal uptake of that new business model if there are too big mistakes that get made, especially once that impacts your planned image and the loyalty that we have with customers. I would say that we had some lessons learned, but the root cause best learning was just keep trying, small steady steps, and that will, will be the path to being successful. I would say that's the best thing that I could advocate to others who are looking to do as-a-service.

Sarah Nicastro: Now, you mentioned earlier that you are at step one and a half or two. What comes next? What's next on this journey for Baxi?

James Galloway: Well, like I said, we took a pause moment to reflect. We're looking at a different target customer group. The next is run trials in this customer segment. The real next step, the strategic one is okay, upscale operations, and that's... With some of your blogs you've done in the past and your research and work, you've talked about talent acquisition, recruitment, internal culture. That's a really interesting one because, okay, within a strategic timeframe, if the business model, like as-a-service, is it going to become a dominant business model to work with? What does that look like from your organization? And by the way, three steps is too simplistic. There are many steps, but effective step three, is your organization ready to run with it?

James Galloway: It's about the systems. You have all your data lakes and cloud infrastructure in place. Are you turning data into insight? Do you know how to work with the insight? Is that true CRM experience internally? And can you do something to satisfy the customer expectations? Like the customers, are you able to do that? Can you meet the operational demands at scale? Do we have the right talent coming in? What's the next step? How do you ensure that you've got market differentiation going forward? What AI experts, or what are we doing with AR or VR to ever improve that experience both from the operational side, but also from the customer experience perspective.

James Galloway: I think the real next step is operationalizing it and being efficient and managing that because otherwise there's a real risk that we get too big, too quickly without having that infrastructure in place. And suddenly, your business as usual gets harder to do because so much time is taken up right with this. I think there's probably an understanding or acknowledgement of that around boundary conditions about, okay, how big are we willing to get at this point in time, and synchronizing with our organization and capabilities. That's the next step for us as an organization is preparing ourselves for a potential real scale-up.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Whew. The journey carries on.

James Galloway: No, yeah. That's a strategic thing. It's not going to happen every night.

Sarah Nicastro: Get it though. That's the thing. It's like you said bit by bit lesson by lesson, and you just keep forging ahead. And I think that's for sure the right approach. It takes courage, it takes patience, it takes perseverance, persistence, so good for you for spearheading a lot of that, and good for Baxi for recognizing the need to innovate and working hard to make that a reality.

James Galloway: Yeah. Thank you. I'm lucky to work for a company like BDR because they're in a good place. They've got really strong, progressive sustainability targets built into our culture. We've recently done a culture rollout across the whole organization with three core values, one team, sustainable feature, customer focus. Those are simple and it's really relevant. There's already that environment to do all that stuff. By no means am I doing this by myself. I'm surrounded by some wonderful people to make it happen. That's a really key point to hold that vision. And there's a lot of values and ethical values that are deep on this mission to decarbonize for a more sustainable future. It's easy to get traction with that.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. It gives you something to dig into. All right, James, well, thank you so much for coming and spending some time with me-

James Galloway: For sure.

Sarah Nicastro: ... and sharing with our audience today. I appreciate it.

James Galloway: A pleasure, an absolute pleasure. Thank you very much.

Sarah Nicastro: Thanks. You can find more by visiting us at You can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter at The Future of FS. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at As always, thank you for listening.

Most Recent

July 27, 2022 | 18 Mins Read

Why the Future of Service Depends on Putting People First

July 27, 2022 | 18 Mins Read

Why the Future of Service Depends on Putting People First


In this episode, from the Paris Live Tour, Sarah speaks with Jean de Kergorlay, Digital Buildings Services Director - Europe at Schneider Electric who has been with Schneider Electric for 34 years. Jean shares his unique perspective on how service has evolved as a part of business differentiation and strategy. While he fully recognizes the value and immense potential of digital, his opinion is that the future of our industry depends on our people.

Sarah Nicastro: Jean, thank you for being here.

Jean de Kergorlay: Thank you for having me.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes.

Jean de Kergorlay: It's a pleasure.

Sarah Nicastro: So Jean is the digital buildings service director for Europe at Schneider Electric. And we're going to be talking about your thoughts on why the future of field service depends on putting people first, okay? It's a good statement.

Jean de Kergorlay: I think it's a good way, yes.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes. Okay. So before we get into that, tell folks a little bit more about yourself, your background, your journey, and your role at Schneider.

Jean de Kergorlay: Oh my goodness. You see that I have some gray hairs, so it could be a long story. But no, in short, I joined the Schneider Electric now 34 years ago-- already, my goodness. And Schneider was my third company. So what is interesting is I think I worked about 20 years in the industry business. I started as a field services engineer during the maybe five years or so, first France, and then very much across many, many countries. And then, because this company gave me a lot of opportunities, and finally I moved to R&D, then product management, then whatever things. I don't want to be too long, but since the past 17 years now, I am more in what is new and entrepreneurial business in our company. So that means creating new businesses and especially in services, and mostly the past 12 years in digital. Because let's say, we had kind of an interesting problem to solve. Let's be clear, when we were talking about digital, it is not because it was trendy or kind of buzz word at all, we had a big issue that we had field services technicians, and maybe I shouldn't say that, but as a company we were seen or perceived at too much expensive by our customers. Oops.

Jean de Kergorlay: And as a fact, the idea was, okay, how can we maybe provide even more value, maybe less rolling the truck and going on site and thinking about, okay, what kind of data we could get from buildings. I'm very much in the buildings business, okay? Where you live, where you work, whatever, but it is the non-residential business I'm talking about, non-residential buildings. And it was interesting because when we started digital journey, it was more about how can we get some relief to our guys, that means getting before going on site, what is working well or not working well, having kind of a to-do list or whatever, and not discovering at the very last minute, what should be done on site.

Jean de Kergorlay: So this was the first idea. When I started this, saying, "Okay, have we something in Schneider?" No, not at all. And then I started working with some startups in the US, and this is where we started this journey, move for solving our own problems. And after a few years, we said, "Hey, by the way, could it be interesting also for not only us, but also for our customers?" So this is where the journey started a few years back. And what was interesting and I'm sure we will more talk about that later on is the more we were talking about digital as a word, the more we had resistance, reluctance from mostly the technicians saying, "Ooh, those kind of tools could make me losing my job. Maybe I will be replaced by some kind of AI or things like in the sci-fi movies."

Jean de Kergorlay: It was interesting because funnily, we started with the technology and very quickly we discovered, maybe the hard way, that it is all about the people, and finally digital or whatever kind of technology is only a tool or being tools. And in the end, you can have the best tools in the world, if nobody is using them or it, useless. This is where it has been a long journey now, the past eight years of transformation, and I would say not yet completed at all, that we are really now putting people in this. This is our focal point. That means, it's not a question about talking about digital or whatever, it is how could you make the best of your job using the right tools. That's it.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, good. I think transformation is a very misleading word. We talk about digital transformation or service transformation, but in reality, we're all on a continual journey. There's no finish line that you're going to cross, right? So it's not complete because it won't really be complete, you're going to learn and change, and then learn and change again, right? So you've been with Schneider 34 years, in service for quite a long time. How would you describe Schneider's view today on the potential of service for the business? Right, so I talked about how in my experience, when I started, it was a lot of cut costs and that has shifted to it being seen as more of a potential for growth. What is your company's view on that?

Jean de Kergorlay: I think if I compare even few years back, so I'm not going back to 34 years ago, but I think maybe many changes the past five or six years when any kind of service providers, and we have some of them in the room today, is when we realize that if we are only providing to a customer blocked hours, blocked days, and finally just ticking things, checklist or whatever, in the end, there is not that much value for the end user or for the services provider. So I think this is one point. I think the bigger change, maybe we realized in a very humble way that finally we have guys on the field, maybe they meet even more often customers that our sales forces meet on a regular basis. And they should be the guys, as ambassador, knowing maybe the best our company, and thinking, and being also in the shoes of the customers.

Jean de Kergorlay: What do I mean is, okay, what is important, what matters, what is at stake? And finally you are more looking not to execute tasks, but finally having a plan could be a yearly plan or half yearly plan or whatever, it is about, okay, what is at stake for those six month or for this one year? What do we want to achieve? Maybe reducing the number of complaints in a building, in a shopping mall, or making the patient more comfortable in hospitals, as an example. Finally, what are the business drivers of the customer I'm working for? And I think this is the big shift, moving from technical things, very important, very important, even details, moving from reactive to something more proactive. And finally, does it feed or not the business of my customer? And I think this is the big shift of those past five years. And as you said, learning, changing, learning, changing.

Sarah Nicastro: And I don't want to speak for you, but I think when you look at the opportunity you have to leverage service as a way to get closer to your customers, okay, that requires different types of relationships with your customers, less transactional, more customer intimacy, more trust those sorts of things. And I think that is the root of where this people focus comes from, because we can't expect our people to go out and foster those types of relationships without first fostering relationships with them, right? So going back to your statement at the beginning, the more you, at Schneider, have leveraged digital, the more you've recognized the opportunity to put focus on your people. Tell us a little bit more about that.

Jean de Kergorlay: I would say maybe one or two things. And I think, as you said, change transformation as a word, it could be only a word. Now there is [inaudible], that means we can have KPIs or whatever, and sometime in our companies or in mine, I will not that corporate today, we have many KPIs. But in the end, what matters? Point number one is we can have the best tools, once more if there is no adoption of those tools, those tools being used less, and you are wasting your money. Okay, so it's a basic statement. And very often it is because we are not spending the right time not to explain, because explaining is not enough, but to leave those tools with the guys. And it has been interesting because we have an interesting slogan the past five years now, 'from the technical room to the boardroom and the other way around.'

Jean de Kergorlay: And what is interesting is very often in the past, technicians talking only to the technicians in the technical room. I oversimplify a bit, but this was the point. What is interesting now is in the management chain, how things being escalated, and there is less and less reluctance now that what is captured on the field could be back up to the boardroom, and finally discovering that if I'm a facility manager for this customer, I'm spending more time in managing complaints from the occupants. And in the end, I try to satisfy the occupants, but as a result, I'm not executing my contract.

Jean de Kergorlay: So this is where having KPIs, having analytics, having whatever is a good way more often now to step back, what's the situation, facts based, and no more with the emotion. And I think as a Latin people here in the room, we can seem kind of good sometime to be very emotional and we just forget the facts. And I think data or digital is a way very often to come back to the facts and decide what could be the next step. What is the plan? And I think this is one of the key points.

Sarah Nicastro: So the focus on people, here's a question I'm curious about - do you think it's something that we had and lost or something that we never really had to begin with that we need to create?

Jean de Kergorlay: Maybe two thoughts about that. The first one, maybe we will come back later on, is that the scarcity in resources. Maybe this is something we can come back later, or do we want to elaborate now?

Sarah Nicastro: He knows the notes better than I do. Yes, okay, all right. Yes, no, that's okay. We'll come back to that part.

Jean de Kergorlay: Okay, perfect. And the other point is I think we lost it in the very simple way. I try to be more corporate, and sorry, I'm unable. What I mean is, no, I think we lost it. I think one more, those past 20 years, you saw that in the cost cutting things, in the whatever things. As a result, we kind of lost our mind, is what is the importance about the people doing really the thing... The doers, what I mean. And I think this is something we very much lost, and what I see that it is across countries, it is across type of customers, and we finally discover that, oh, this guy now getting retired, but he has all the knowledge in his head. And nothing, there is no transitions or no handover way of doing it, and in the end you lose everything. I'm sure you have experienced that somewhere in your different jobs here.

Sarah Nicastro: I think part of what happened is that as organizations became really focused on customer experience, which was part of that shift in the perception of service from just cost center efficiency to, okay, maybe this is an opportunity for a profit center, which means we need to be thinking more about customer experience. But that focus was almost a hyper focus to where the connection of employee experience to customer experience got lost a bit. And so I think two things I wanted to say, so the very first podcast I recorded was with Otis Elevator, and Tony Black, the gentleman that I interviewed, he used a phrase that has stuck with me, which is that their field technicians are the company's most treasured resource. And it's tough because with the scarcity, which we'll talk about next, I think a lot of organizations today know that they need to say those things, but they don't necessarily believe those things.

Sarah Nicastro: And so you're checking a box by saying, "Oh, we have a great company culture, we really focus on employee experience," and some are and some aren't, but from his perspective and based on the context of that statement for him, it was genuine. And I think that's a really important lens through which to look at the employee experience is thinking about how important a resource those frontline workers are.

Sarah Nicastro: So transitioning into... I'm going to be so bad at keeping time today. But transitioning into the scarcity of resources, right? So this is putting even more focus on people because they're really hard to come by. So how does this factor in, and what do we need to be thinking about or doing differently, knowing that we need to kind of change how we're recruiting and hiring and training and retaining our talent?

Jean de Kergorlay: So I think a lot of things change. And once more, I'm coming to the digital side of things, because this is super interesting that point. Point number one, what we discovered the past few years is before we were more discussing with technical people, I mean, on the customer side. One more, we are now implementing digital capabilities, the more we are talking with IT people because of the cyber, because of whatever things, we are talking even more with the board at the C-suite level, and even more with HR. And I think this is important because finally it is, and when we are starting, even with historical customers, point number one, we established a digital road map with them. What does that mean? That means, what is your willingness really to change the way you work compared to before? If there is no willingness, let's stop, let's not waste our time. Point number one.

Jean de Kergorlay: Point number two, because there is some needs about efficiency, sustainability, whatever, the other point is, finally what is the age profile of your resources? And I can tell in quite 100% of the time, and even working with HR, when they discover the reality of their age profile, they're scared, saying, "Oops, oops, we have an issue." If I take in, let's say, field services industry, very much in the buildings business I would say at the moment, I'm just talking about what I know, just think in 2025, 60% of the existing technicians and engineers getting retired across countries. Sorry, not across countries, Europe, North America, a little bit different in Asia. So that mean it is kind of scary. And if there is no anticipation the way we are replacing those guys, there is a big issue. If I take our friends, our homeland friends, just think in our business we're talking about, there is about 1500 new graduates a year out of which 120 engineers. The market need is 10,000. Do we have an issue? I think so.

Jean de Kergorlay: So that means that digital may mitigate, but it shows even more how and why we don't have so many graduates, just because our business is not appealing at all. When I say my business, I'm not talking about Schneider, I'm talking about field services. It's not appealing. It's not attractive at all. Working with dirty hands, climbing on ladders, going things on ceiling, fixing things on cabling, so boring, and the younger generation is not at attracted at all. And this is where, when we add this layer of digital, finally either we are attracting new people having a new approach of this kind of business point number one, we are creating new job. Think about the customer success managers, if I would have spoken about customer success managers few years back, I think many of you will have told me, "Hey, for startups, good for startups, not good for me." Now it is key because it is not only executing field services, it is also how do we keep this intimacy, and finally strengthening the trust you were talking about. Sorry, I'm stopping because otherwise I'm too talkative.

Sarah Nicastro: It's okay. No, I think this is a really important topic. We don't have time to get into all of it, but show of hands, is there anyone in the room for whom talent, so recruiting, hiring retention is not an issue. No? Okay. I mean, I thought so, but I just wanted to double check before I start making assumptions. So, I mean, this is a topic that I create a lot of content on because I think it is one of the biggest challenges that you all are going to face this year, next year, in the coming years. And so I think there's a lot of opportunity to change, not to have that challenge disappear because there's just facts, there's number data facts. But we also can't just have a defeatist mindset of, okay, well, we're in trouble so we'll just keep doing what we're doing and cross our fingers, right?

Sarah Nicastro: I think there's a lot of opportunity to change how we recruit, hire, train, retain, and so that is a lot of our content. That being said, I'm getting time counts all over the place, but I do want to get to one more question, Jean, and it ties into the scarcity of resources. So you mentioned earlier on, digital, it is important but it is a tool, right? And so there can be resistance, even resentment, I think from the workforce sometimes related to digital, and a lot of that stems from a point you mentioned, which is fear that it will cost them their jobs. The reality though is that in a lot of cases, that's not the fact at all, right? I mean, there's more jobs than we can fill, and so I think there's a lot of ways to change that narrative so that that fear is removed. And I think that's part of what needs to happen in terms of retention. But in your experience with the resistance to change and some of the reluctance to adopt these tools, what has been most successful in overcoming that?

Jean de Kergorlay: So very quickly, maybe two things. Point number one, what we have implemented now the past two years, we discovered that we were delivering kind of good training for the technicians and the engineer, but technical tracks or technical curriculum, in the end, we discovered that we never shared or trained them or coached them or support them what are really the sales selling to the customers. And you know that sometime there is two sides of the story, what the sales guy is saying and what the services guy is executing. I don't know why, sometime there is a gap. So what we decided to do two years ago, and it has been kind of a big impact in the changes, is giving them sales training about this, point number one. Point number two, I'm driving at the moment, a super interesting initiative because... And this is in UK, just because the UK was more willing at the moment, let's say, to go to this initiative.

Jean de Kergorlay: What is the point? The point is super basic and simple. We have about 500 field services technicians in the UK, Schneider, I mean. What we are driving at the moment, because we have some resistance, it is what it is. And we have a very interesting proof of concept last year with southwest of UK in Devon and Cornwall, and we just worked with those technicians, and we asked them to identify the right time. Let's say the time where they think they're not providing the value they can deliver. It was kind of very basic sessions, very pragmatic, and in some cases going on sites as well with them. And finally they realized, or we all shared that more than 60% of their time was, I wouldn't say useless, it was very useful, but they were not delivering what they could deliver.

Jean de Kergorlay: And it has been now let's say a point there, now each [inaudible] of them introducing part of the digital tool only tackling those low value tasks. This is where now we are seeing the change, and this is interesting. One of the most, let's say the older guy, now driving, let's say, this old wise fox now driving the others say, "Hey, I've been able to do it. Hey, you young guys, hey rookies, now you can do it." We have now this transformation, kind of a snowball effect, which is not really led by the management or the top management, it has been done more in a horizontal way, acknowledging what the situation is, what can we do with what we have, testing the things, executing them, and then spreading the word. That's it.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I think simplicity sometimes means there are things that get overlooked. And if you just think about, if you in your job, like if no one ever asked you what you thought ever, would you feel that you mattered to the company? No. So sometimes it's the simple things of just listening, and it doesn't mean you have to meet every need or address every complaint or anything like that, but just whether or not you treat your employees like a treasured resource or like a valued member of the team comes down to some really quite simple things. Okay, I'm going to get in trouble. So does anyone have a question for Jean? I'm not going to let you out of here before I make sure that if anyone does, they have a chance to ask. Anyone? Anyone? Yes.

Jean de Kergorlay: In English or in French, as you wish.

Speaker 3: It's a remark, it's less a question. You said [inaudible] right, that there's more customer studies than sales people, so [inaudible], but what about the trusted advisor role and [inaudible 00:25:50] and the fact that they are key in the sales [inaudible]? And what about helping them to be more sales oriented, customer centric? It's goes to the [inaudible] system as well, because most of those people have the same incentives. So I know that's difficult sometimes to have somebody very technical, to become a killer in [inaudible], how can we make them more active in the decision making process? Because they're doing it, the customer is trusting them more than our sales reps.

Jean de Kergorlay: Very often, they are... Yeah, exactly. And I think this is a great point and a great question. So just in short, and I'm just sharing what we are doing, and I'm not saying that we are perfect at all. Point number one, during the COVID period, we made kind of a weird initiative saying, "Hey guys, it's not because this is the COVID that there is no more service on sites so maybe there is another way to deliver services." I will not come back to the digital side of things, obvious, but point number two, by the way, we need also to grow. You may know that in our companies, we are not really a charity. We need to make money, let's be clear. And in the end, the idea was finally wound up having more sales coverage using our field services technician. Sorry.

Jean de Kergorlay: And finally, we decided to create what we call the field quotes initiative. No, no, no field quotes. That means we were asking our technician across countries to sell when they have an opportunity meeting customers. "By the way, can you upsell? Could be software upgrades, could be fixing... Let's say upselling few things." It has been a fantastic success. And then came the problem or the question about incentives, because either it could be, let's say, regulated or on the law of things, or it could change the way wages or salaries being done in some countries and the rules being very different.

Jean de Kergorlay: Finally in France, we decided, let's say, to run more kind of... How could I say that? Fitness or sport registration things, it was more appealing. We asked in the different countries what matters for them. Surprisingly, in none of the countries, the technicians told about money, they told about recognition. Sometime recognition was a nice word, even from our CEO. Thank you.

Jean de Kergorlay: And it was interesting. Finally, money matters for sure, but thinking about what is the culture that drives this recognition even more important. And it forces us as managers and leaders finally better knowing our people. Sorry, I don't want to be longer, we can have an off-site discussion after, but I think your point is super important.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And again, I mean, recognition is something that in theory is very simple, but doesn't happen enough. I think there's also a lot of conversation around upskilling, reskilling, career paths, and giving people options to go in different directions. Paulie, we'll come back maybe in the fall and do another session. Okay, great. All right, Jean, thank you so much.

Most Recent

July 20, 2022 | 25 Mins Read

Scaling Innovation to Drive Business Impact

July 20, 2022 | 25 Mins Read

Scaling Innovation to Drive Business Impact


Author, Advisor and Top 10 Global Thought Leader Frank Mattes shares perspective on some of the most common reasons that innovation fails and sheds light on the why, when, and how of scaling innovation to drive business impact.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I’m your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today, we’re going to be talking about how to scale innovation to drive business impact in service. I’m excited to welcome to the podcast author, advisor and top 10 global thought leader, as well as founder and CEO of Lean Scaleup, Frank Mattes.

Frank was a guest speaker at the 'Future of Field Service Live Tour' stop in Frankfurt. We had a wonderful conversation. It was one that the audience really enjoyed, because there’s so much importance to the points you made and the work you’re doing. It’s so really true when you think about some of the challenges that our audience is having.

Frank, what is your story?

Sarah Nicastro: Before we dig in, I gave your top level bio, but tell everyone a little bit more about yourself, and what you do.

Frank Mattes: Lean Scaleup, the term is the program. I mean, you want to scale up those big ambitions that companies have, thus creating and shaping their own future. Future-proofing their company, if you will. But, it turns out that this is not so easy to do. In my last five years, I partnered with leading companies and leading business schools, to come up with a solution to this 'Scaling-Up problem.'

It turns out, it’s quite easy to drum out ideas and do some small-scale experiments. But, when it comes to really make it big, this is where seven out of eight of big ambitions fail. The Lean Scaleup provides a solution to that. Co-created with leading companies, the London Business School, and UC Berkeley, to help companies solve that problem.

What is innovation?

Sarah Nicastro: We are going to dig into some of those specifics. Before we can talk about scaling, let’s talk a little bit first about how you define innovation. Many companies get a vision, they are excited to innovate, and then reality sets in. Or, they know innovation is an important buzz word and they want to innovate, but really they’re defaulting to more of just an incremental improvement. Let’s talk about the fact that we need to define innovation, and what it means. That there is some confusion around it.

Frank Mattes: Excellent point, Sarah. There’s so much noise about innovation, you called it a buzzword. So much activities going on, so many blog posts, and conferences, you name it, all around innovation. But, there isn’t a proper, commonly accepted definition on what innovation is. Isn’t that funny? I do have my own. Not saying that this is the only definition that you can use, but it combines a couple of very critical elements. It rings a bell with my clients. Just to give the audience an idea: my clients are the biggest German companies and on a selective basis, European or even global champions - companies like Philips, bp, Telefonica, et cetera. 

The definition that rings a bell with these kind of companies, is to say innovation is capturing the value from meaningful insights via new offerings that change the order of things. Now there are a couple of things in here. Number one, it’s about capturing the value. It’s about value, and there is a customer who should appreciate the value. It’s not about 'new stuff' - it’s about value, and value is defined by the customer.

It’s also about simply just putting out some new stuff that has value, but it’s about capturing the value. Meaning, collecting the dollars and the cents of that value that resides within that new stuff that you did. We find this potential value via meaningful insights. There’s this old quote from Wayne Gretzky. When he was asked why he is so successful, he said, “Because I’m skating to where the puck is going to be, not where it is right now.”

If we look at it, Sarah, innovation is a game that you play with three to five years in advance. You need to think about who will be our customers in three to five years? What would be valuable to them then? What do I need to bring to the table to make myself attractive to these future customers?

The last point, new offerings that change the order of things, means new business models, new goto-market strategies, new strategies on working with the ecosystem to create the value, et cetera. we are talking about the big steps here. Changing the order of things, thinking outside of the box, if you will. If it’s in the box, if it doesn’t change the order of things, then we have incremental innovation. Hopefully that helps for the audience as well. Capturing the value from meaningful insights via new offerings that change the order of things.

Changing the order of things?

Sarah Nicastro: I think it is important to clarify that there isn’t anything wrong with incremental innovation necessarily. Right? But, the point is companies really need to define this for themselves and be clear on what it is they’re aiming for. What that means then in terms of what they need to change.

I wrote a blog a couple of weeks ago. Since late last year, I’ve been an avid Peloton user. We got the bike around Christmas. I have the tread, and it’s been great. It’s made my daily fitness routine far more consistent, and it’s been wonderful. A couple weeks ago, I was doing my morning workout, and one of the instructors said, “Everyone wants transformation. But no one wants to change.” I wrote a blog about that, because it’s really true here too. People see the examples of the companies that have done the hard work. Once they’ve achieved success, and they want that, but they’re not necessarily realistic with themselves about all of the hard work it takes to get that.

It was interesting to me, some of the parallels that are there. Now, with the vast conversations you’ve had with a variety of different businesses, different educational researchers, et cetera. What are the biggest drivers for innovation today?

Frank Mattes: Let me just reiterate before I come to the point, what you just said. I’m fully with you, and actually, if you look at the broad scale, companies are investing 70% in keeping their existing products and services relevant. Modernizing them, integrating speech interfaces and touch screens. Adding in one more functionality.

That’s perfectly fine, right? But, the point is that it still locks the company inside the box. If the box changes, then it becomes hard. This is why we need to think wisely about where and how to spend the 10% innovation budget. That’s the average for innovation that is aiming at changing the order of things.

Coming back to your question, what are the biggest drivers of today? I mean, let’s use an example that I guess we are all familiar with, cars and mobility, traveling from A to B, et cetera. What you notice is, number one, existing industry boundaries blur.

In the past you had your car makers, you had your insurance companies, you had the companies from the entertainment industry. These days you find big rumors saying that who once used to make iPods becomes a major player in the car industry. Now obviously there are many more industry boundaries blurring. There’s new competition out there. Companies that take an angle from area of expertise that your company does not have expertise in. Then there’s number two, future value pools.

There are enough surveys out there that say Gen Z or maybe even Gen Y, they’re not so much interested in owning cars any more. Probably like my generation or to some extent I think you’re quite young, so your generation is. They want to have the mobility, the service that they can book that takes them from A to B. This is a future value pool to get future revenue streams as in the car mobility industry. We’ll just stick to that one example. You need to be present there.

Number three is, existing business models lose their relevance. Let’s take an example: bp, one of my clients. They are currently still in the oil and gas business. They look for hydrocarbons, and take it out of the ground, refine it. Ship it to the gas stations where you’ll put it in your car. That’s the business model.

bp said that for various reasons, in ten years they will not base their business on fossil fuels any more. They said, we will sell electrons. We will go electric. We help our clients which would be big companies, regions, or even cities to decarbonize themselves and we want to be a major player in the mobility space. Because, in 10 years, the old business model has lost its value. Think about Nokia beaten by Apple's iPhone, et cetera. These kind of things.

Number four is the trend towards servitization. People don’t want to buy products. They want to have a solution to their problems, wants and needs - they want help in completing their job-to-be-done. If we stick to that, these services like Uber or Lyft, that you can simply call or rent a mobility vessel, as some of our clients call it. They do not call it cars anymore. They use the term mobility vessels to really stretch the imagination to the foundational function.

Last but not least, I see sustainability getting more and more importance. Innovation is not only about financial success anymore. It’s also about the ecological impact that it generates. There are also studies out there that show that investors value a companies that put out their part in decarbonizing the world.

Behind that, Sarah, you find in many instances, 80 or 90 percent or so, Digital. The potential’s of Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, remote monitoring of assets, predictive maintenance, et cetera. But it’s not exclusively tied to digital. Rather, I, in my view, in my discussions with my clients, I look at the changing order of things. Then work your way backwards. What does it mean to technology and the digital opportunities out there?

Sarah Nicastro: I think the changing order of things is a very good point. It’s where a lot of people get stuck. But, I think it’s also an important point to not start there. At least in my opinion. Because the same way you said they call them vessels instead of cars, because they don’t want to limit themselves to thinking in a singular or a mental image.

I think one of the things, at least the companies I talk with, struggle with is, they think about that changing order, and it makes them think small, because they start thinking about what it will take to get to that real disruptive innovation. That changing order seems so big that they back away from it. I think worry about that, not last, but I mean, don’t think about that initially, because then it will limit you from thinking about what the value is that you could potentially bring to market.

It takes courage

Frank Mattes: That’s an excellent point, Sarah, because it takes courage - apart from the right thinking tool and management systems, the right culture et cetera, and all the points that we might be touching later on. It takes courage to leave a little sheet of ice where the company lived comfortably over the last 30, 40, 50, maybe even 100 years, and venture out into the wild. Into the unknown, because some leaders recognize that the little sheet of ice is based is getting smaller and smaller by the year.

They are on a burning platform that’s also a terminology that’s used pretty frequently. If you don’t take your future into your own hands and future-proof the company, the forces of the market will determine your future. In many cases this will not be the better option.

Sarah Nicastro: Right. Also, just a side note, I never, never take notes during a podcast, but you probably saw me doing that, because I had some thoughts that I just could not … I was afraid I would lose them if I didn’t write them down. It’s a good sign. When we were at the event in Frankfurt, you said people aren’t short on ideas. They’re short on outcomes. Let’s talk about some of the roadblocks that get in the way of the ideas ultimately delivering the outcomes.

Frank Mattes: Your audience and my clients are companies, from SMEs up to very large enterprises. They have built their organization as a machine executing the same processes over and over again. Over the years, they have fine-tuned what they need to do, doing that flawlessly and most efficiently. There’s a lot of expertise in there, creating, delivering value at scale and earning the margins.

The problem is, when these companies set up their innovation ambitions, they found an innovation center or a digital lab, or an incubator, accelerator or a corporate venture builder - there are several concepts and terminologies out there. But, for the sake of simplicity, let’s say there's a little garden where smart people can think about the future.

You see that there are two systems. On the one side you have your day-to-day operations. Where customers log in their orders, which are then processed. The supply chain does its work, and the stuff is being shipped and serviced out in the field, et cetera. That’s a day-to-day business. And on the other side, you get those crazy ideas. There’s no problem in that.

The problem arises when you try to make those bold ideas that should change the order of things big. Why is it so? Because the management system that you have, that you need for that day-to-day business is about efficiency, productivity, short term views and no risk. Risk is not a good thing if you want to have those processes. Now the people who have been playing out in that innovation playground, come out and say, “Let’s make this big. Let’s build a factory. Let’s build processes. Let’s recruit new people to sell that new stuff.” This really conflicts with the management system that you have for the day-to-day business.

This is basically the point where it all stops if you do not have the right precautions, systems, probitions in place. It stops at the point where you demonstrate, still in that innovation “playground,” a Minimum Viable Product or a Proof Of Concept. When you want to go beyond that, when you want to achieve scale, you need to have a different thinking. This different thinking is heavily geared in basically all of the companies towards the running day-to-day businesses with a monthly, quarterly, annual horizon or so.

What is the fundamental issue?

Sarah Nicastro: Let’s talk a little bit more about this then. I understand the conflict. What needs to change? How do we … And we talked about this at the event, and we talked about, and I don’t want to make you give the same example. But, we talked about the red and the blue. I remember, and using that to illustrate.

No organization can just rush to solve that problem. There’s no way to just, “Okay, we get it. Hey, Frank. We understand what you said, and yeah. We got it. We’ll go fix it.” It’s far more layered than that. When you think about this incubator, garden, playground, it’s almost like then the machine’s over here, and it’s like running into a brick wall. It doesn’t fit. To scale, we have to figure something different out. Let’s talk about what is needed to bridge that gap to solve that problem.

Frank Mattes: Thanks for that reflection on what we discussed in Frankfurt, because I think also that my experience, Sarah, that this language helps a lot in understanding, framing, and then ultimately, obviously addressing the problem. The fundamental problem between the pressure of the NOW, while at the same time, the ambition - and in many cases the necessity - to create the NEW.

The language that I introduced that rings a lot of bell, is about the red shirts and the blue shirts. There’s a famous book out there. It’s called Blue Ocean Strategies that was written some 10, 15, 20 years ago. The two authors said, “Well, if you’re battling with the usual suspects, your known competitors for the same customers with the comparable value propositions using the same channels. Maybe even the same suppliers. A lot of similarity in here. Basically, that’s a shark’s tank.” There’s a lot of blood in the water in here, because it is a shark’s tank. These companies work in what the authors called red oceans.

On the other side, wouldn’t it be great if you could find a space out there where there’s little to none competition, where you have a superior, completely unique value proposition? Where you do not have to compete. Where the value proposition is so strong that the customers approach you, basically # lowering the Costs Of Customer Acquisition. This is what the authors called the blue ocean.

In order to discuss the issue that we just touched, Sarah, it’s helpful to say the day-to-day operations, these are the people working in the red oceans. I call them the red shirts. The guys in the “innovation playground,” try to find the new value pools - these are the blue shirts.

Now, the big point in understanding and trying to work out a solution product of the Scaling-Up problem is to say that this is not about good and bad. You need both. Actually, the red shirts, they sell the products, they provide after sales service, etc. to win and to secure the revenues that would fund that search and implementation for creating the NEW. If there are not no blue shirts out there, if it’s just red shirts, chances are that with a perspective of five, 10, 15 years or so, with all the big drivers of innovation that we discussed earlier, the red shirts will find themselves out of the business, because the customers have moved on.

We need both. That’s the conclusion, right? You need to own the business NOW and in the future in the NEW. You need to future-proof the company, if you will. This piece of awareness, Sarah, I found in many companies, this is what gets the juices flowing, the spirit flowing. My clients say, "Now I understand. It’s not about good and bad. It’s not about the blue shirts doing innovation theater. And it's not about the blue shirts saying, “the red shirts, they do not get innovation.”

They are living in different systems that were designed for different purposes. That run differently that need different people even, different culture in here. But yet you need both to future prove the company. Then we can come to that million dollar question in the truest sense of words. Okay, now that we understand there are blue shirts and red shirts, and we need both of them - How can we make them work together?

Does the whole company need to change?

Sarah Nicastro: I have two questions based on what you just said. One is, and maybe this will lead into how they work together. One is I feel like I remember talking at the event about percentages: how many red versus blue and what that should look like. That was one question. The second one is as a company, let’s say a company gains this understanding, appreciates the need to set this up and not think of them as competitive but collaborative. As the innovation needs to scale, so basically as the blue idea needs to come into the red machine, is the goal for the blue team to pass off the concept to the red to operationalize? Or is the goal for the blue team and the red team, eventually, at some point to become one? 

Frank Mattes: These are good questions and obviously they are interrelated. The fundamental thing is and that’s also the trick, and then the philosopher's stone if you will of future-proofing the company. The trick is to say, “Well, we need to do this in the way that we monetize, that we leverage all of the good things that we build up in our last 30, 40, 100 years of our corporate history. If you look at it, there’s so much there of corporate assets and corporate capabilities that could be the foundation of that future. The NEW with new value pools and new revenue streams.

Let me give you some examples for this corporate assets and capabilities. Obviously, the company has customers, right? It’s got a reputation in the market. People trust the brand if you will. It’s got access to delivery and supply chain channels. It knows how to manufacture products and services. It’s working with the regulators, and it’s got tons of experts in the various functions. It’s got a lot of patents, IP, etc. It’s got transactional data that you can use to train artificial intelligence models. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

In my book, I have two pages of potential sources of those unfair advantages, as I call them. That’s the kind of thinking you need to put out there. Also, Sarah, that’s where I see many companies struggle. They set up that innovation “playground”. They tell those typically smart, young people with the espresso machines and the beanie bags, et cetera, “come up with something really great. Really new.” But, typically that is not connected to the day-to-day operations where the company operates in today. It’s almost like, in that situation, Sarah, as if the company would try to create a startup out in the wild. It’s a greenfield - it’s not a brownfield. But actually we’re talking about a brownfield situation.

But then in that greenfield situation, the company will never win if it’s a smart idea, against venture capitalists. If the two of us get together, we’ve got this great idea about the super duper podcast, right? We would go outside and ask some venture capitalists if they would fund us, and then we take it from there. The company can never win that.

Now coming back to the point that you raised. Quite often you’ll hear the battle cry, the company needs to become more innovative. They’re putting out the posters, train those catalysts or coaches or whatever they’re calling. They run their annual great big idea programs, et cetera. 

You know what I mean?

Well, I do have a different point of view, and that comes exactly from that thought that you … It’s really about leveraging what has been created in the past. Leveraging those corporate assets and capabilities for an unfair advantage. Three of my clients said, “Well, Frank, we don’t need 100% of our staff to be really innovative. It’s only 4%, 6%, and 12%.” That’s what those three companies said. 4 percent was an automotive company, 6 percent was a bank and 12 percent was a TelCo. You only need a fraction of people who understand what those blue shirts are creating, and how this could be translated into the machine of the day-to-day business.

Sarah Nicastro: You’re saying four, whatever the percentages was, that’s how many red shirts need to understand the mission of the blue shirts? Right? That’s not how many blue shirts you have, but it’s how many go betweens. People that could wear both shirts essentially.

Frank Mattes: Yes. Yes. Blue shirts, you have a couple of dozens maybe, or a couple of hundreds if you talk about real large companies. But those 4 percent, thanks for clarifying that, Sarah, is really the number of red shirts that need to be able to understand what the blue shirts are doing, and translate it into the process the logic, the machine of the red shirts.

Take an example. The car maker for instance. You’ve got the blue shirts thinking about mobility services and stuff that play out in those mobility vessels - they call them cars today. But at the end of the day, this car and the device that sits in the car that does the magic in here, needs to be constructed. This is heavy engineering, and you want to manufacture it with a six-sigma quality, right? This kind of translation work, this is 4 percent. Four percent only.

What is leadership's role?

Sarah Nicastro: How powerful are those four people, first of all? I mean, that’s just incredibly critical to the success of all of this. It also though, leads me to my next question, which is, none of this works without leadership that gets it and understands.

Often, I see individual, functional leaders, a VP of Service or what have you that really see this, and they really understand it. But, they are reporting to a top leader who is just clueless when it comes to what this all means. What it really takes, et cetera. I mean, what would you say about the role of top leadership in this? What to keep in mind, related to that?

Frank Mattes: One thing you need to have those red shirts that need to understand the blue stuff as we just discussed. But 20 great companies and two business schools are saying, Sarah. We need more. Number one is you need to have look at the end-to-end process. From the first thoughts about where should we innovate in, to the meaningful idea, to checking - validating as they say - this idea to making that decision 'Let’s make it big' - you need to look at this end-to-end process in the right way.

It touches, as I think we already eluded to, to different management systems. Different people, and if you dig deeper, different cultures, different KPIs, et cetera. Looking at the process is really an art. It’s not a straightforward thing that you do for many operational processes, be it in production or be in service in the end.

Now, to address the leadership, well, let’s come back to that in a second. Number three turns out that in order to solve that red, blue conflict, which is not a conflict about people. But, a conflict about systems. You need to establish a collaboration model. You need to define what is to be done in that transitional phase. It is a phase, when the blue shirt gradually hand over the responsibility for scaling up, and then actually running it at scale to the red shirts.

This is basically where the scope of the blue shirts ends, and it’s good because you’re getting into really detailed stuff, and on running the machines on the establishing of six-sigma quality. This is not what the blue people are about.

Sarah Nicastro: I mean, also the blue shirts need to keep looking for what’s next, right? I mean, they don’t go away necessarily. They’re continuing to look for those innovation … I mean, that’s another understanding of all of this is we’re in a time that this is all continual, right?

Frank Mattes: Yeah. But now, let’s come to leadership. Methodology, the process, the culture, the collaboration piece, and number three, the leadership. Obviously leadership plays an essential role in here. You can have the best process with all the jumps in between, all the validation, all the technology, you might even have a set up a collaboration model. But once leadership doesn’t support it, it all cracks. If you look on our website,, there’s a visual where we say out of the many cog wheels that run in the day-to-day business, leadership is that cog wheel that takes it out and creates that environment for the unfair advantage.

It’s a leadership task, and Sarah, in my view, it’s THE leadership task, to answer the question, how can we win today? How can we win the now? While at the same time, future-proofing the company, creating the NEW. Everything else delineates from there.

How can we win today and be safe and win in the future? It turns out that you basically need to have, as they say an ambidextrous view. You need to look at the red shirts and the red system and what’s going on in today’s markets. We also need to look at three to five years into the future. How are customers shifting? Let me give you an example. Let’s remain in that mobility example in here.

One of our customers is a big truck company. They are seeing that in three to five years, their customers will not be the logistics companies any more. Actually, it will be the customers of today’s customers. They will organize that fleet of autonomous vessels and run their operations. The truck morphs into an element of logistics-as-a-service.

, and you name it and that stuff, right?

You see that and you need to make the change while being confined to today’s requirements. Your shareholders expect that you safely deliver the revenues and the margins. Your current customers say, “Don’t you dare to speak to my customers. Because these are my customers, not your customers, and these kind of things.

What you need to do is to arrange an overarching system where you say, “Well, we have some red elements in here, but also the blue elements.” For instance, if you up your great idea, and you want to take it to scale, some of these milestones during Scaling-Up need to be in the red shirt manager’s systems. If they do not see the benefit of supporting the Scaling-Up, they will not do it.

If you do have to arrange that kind of working in blue KPIs into the red shirt system, you might end up with a C suite saying, “We want to be innovative. We take on the challenge. We want to create a future.” But it’s basically stuck in the middle management level, where the functional experts and the owners of those assets and capabilities that we spoke earlier are sitting. It’s about really that leadership taking that red shirt/blue shirt view, the ambidextrous view.

Sarah Nicastro: It’s exciting stuff, but I can see why it feels daunting to some. I mean, it is a lot. It’s a tall task. But, to your point earlier, I mean it is really, really imperative that companies figure this out. That’s just the reality. All right, Frank. Go ahead.

Frank Mattes: And, and … Just one more point, Sarah. I mean, there’s stats out there. There’s stats that tell you how long is the average life span of a company that made it to the S&P 500. It’s not just Frank. You can look at the stats, and from those stats I would delineate my recommendation. You need to start about how to blend together the now and the new.

Words of wisdom

Sarah Nicastro: All right, Frank, so any other thoughts, advice, words of wisdom related to today’s topic that you want to share with folks before we wrap up?

Frank Mattes: Definitely. I mean, we started off with the Lean Scaleup, so I heavily would recommend to read into the book to absorb what those 20 companies and the business schools have worked out. I feel lucky to be part of that journey. Basically, get an inspiration on how to solve that system problem. But, I’ve got also, when I thought about this, Sarah, two or three minor but very powerful things to bring to the audience. Not to asking for changing the company from Tuesday to Wednesday. But, rather small steps, philosophies if you will. Changing the mindset.

Number two, is let’s look at one of the most successful business build ups. Companies that builds basically new businesses at scale and at pace, Amazon. Right? Jeff Bezos when he was still CEO said, “Our success correlates directly with a number of small experiments that we’re doing.” If you are very careful and you shop on et cetera, you even see that the website changes by the day. They put a button up here, and they change the coloring there, et cetera. They want to continually look at how can we basically find clues of what might be really bad. Not just the optimization. The incremental stuff might really be better.

Also, a third piece of advice, Sarah, would be if you’re trying to tap into the unknown. If you want to really think outside the box, obviously that is territory that the C suite and the senior management of that company is not very much familiar with. Right? They know their home base if you will, all right? But they do not know the new.

There’s one concept that I recommend my clients to go with, which is a very, very powerful concept in tapping out into the wild. It’s called the skin-in-the-game concept. There’s so much studies that you can read in thinking about what the future would look like. You can speak to so many potential customers out there. What they need and what they might be willing to pay for.

At the end of the day, it’s about that they put something of value on the table. Skin of the game, right? They devote that time, and a team to co create a minimum viable product with you. They put their reputation on the line by conducting webinars to promote that new product or services. Always ask yourself, is this just theory or is someone putting real skin into the game?

Where to learn more

Sarah Nicastro: That’s a really good point. Okay. Frank, thank you so much. Wonderful conversation again. As Frank mentioned, it’s Correct?

Frank Mattes: Yes.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. That’s the website. I know from the event in Germany, you had some great slides and illustrations. Obviously, Frank has written the book on this topic, so there’s some wonderful stuff. I would encourage all of you to go and check it out, because this was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Frank’s insights.

Sarah Nicastro: So, Frank, thank you so much though for coming and spending some time with me. I appreciate it.

Frank Mattes: Thanks for having me.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. You can find more by visiting us at You can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter, @thefutureoffs. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at As always, thank you for listening.

Most Recent

July 13, 2022 | 16 Mins Read

Creating a Remote Service Strategy

July 13, 2022 | 16 Mins Read

Creating a Remote Service Strategy


In this session, from the Stockholm stop of the Future of Field Service Live Tour, Sarah talks with Roel Rentmeesters, VP of Services at Munters, about the considerations in creating a remote service strategy. Roel discusses how to navigate resistance to change, how remote service factors in to Servitization, and how delivering outcomes requires an evolution of service delivery.

Sarah Nicastro: All right. So Roel and I have had variations of this conversation many times, but it's always a pleasure.

Roel Rentmeesters: It is.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes. Okay. So, we're going to talk about the balance of working toward innovation, a bigger vision of change, while meeting the demands of the present day business. Okay.

Roel Rentmeesters: Yep.

Sarah Nicastro: So tell everyone a bit about yourself, what you do, what Munters does and then we'll get started.

Roel Rentmeesters: Good. So I work for Munters, it's a Swedish company. We do climate solutions for mission critical processes. So everything that's related to humidity control and temperature control in critical environments is what we do, and of course, we try to do this in a sustainable way, meaning that the way our energy consumption, et cetera, for our units is controlled and help the customer in their processes. And I'm leading the services organization. It's been five years that I work for Munters, my background is however in IT where I've done field service for the last 20 years, which is actually good, because the way IT has developed their service management from call centers and network operations centers and systems to control this, is very standardized using Itel, and I think there's a lot that we can apply from that IT industry in our manufacturing world. So, that's where I am in Munters, and it's really interesting.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes. Okay. All right. So, at Munters, there's this opportunity to servitize the business, as there is for many manufacturers, also probably a fair bit of resistance to that amount of change. So, when we talk about service transformation, I think, particularly for those who are in manufacturing, looking to servitize the business, you're really talking about fundamentally an identity change of the business, and that can be challenging, so how would you describe the opportunity for Munters to servitize and what are some of the things that are driving that opportunity?

Roel Rentmeesters: Yeah. I think servitisation is fairly new in Munters compared to in other industries. We started, I would say, seven, eight years ago, I heard a colleague say in 2000 already, so we are quite new and we are, well, we have been really a traditional manufacturing company, so we build big boxes in our factories, we sell them and sales and service was a support organization, and that changed a bit, I would say 2015, or just before that, the first thing we did was change the service organization, where before it was residing into the BU's and it was pure support, we moved it into a separate business area, and that really made a transformation happen, so separate sales from the service organization, so that they don't abuse each other and started that revenue generation in service, it was quite successful and we are still quite successful in it.

Roel Rentmeesters: So, we have 15% growth in the last years of service, but still mainly in our traditional services. So it is the commissioning, it is a break and fix, it is a preventive maintenance and particularly the upgrades, so how can you maintain your units? And that's where we still are a bit today. So we have not yet evolved into real connected devices and advanced services that need to be delivered, but that is something that we need to do in the next step, and that is what is part of our roadmap right now.

Sarah Nicastro: I was just going to say, Roel was at our Paris event, which was our first and we talked quite a bit there about the journey of servitisation and the continuum, and so the phase you're at, I think, is a phase where organizations tend to reach a level of complacency, because they understand the benefit of focusing more on service and really the opportunity of the end vision, which is to actually servitize, but then they achieve a certain level of success in really that incremental improvement type of thing, and then say, "oh, great. Well, we've succeeded, so let's move on to this next thing", and that goes back to the level of change we're really talking about. So, it presents an opportunity for Munters, what are some of the aspects from the customer perspective that are making service more important, or a bigger opportunity?

Roel Rentmeesters: Yeah. You can clearly see that today in the markets, customers want more than a product, they want product with the services around it, and packaged, and they want to go into moving CapEx to Opex, lease concept, where it embeds the whole service, and they also want to have more than just a box and you repair it when it's fixed, they would like to have a sustainable outcome that you guarantee 99 of X percent of the time, that thing is delivering what it needs. Customer wants to say, "these are my requirements, and you just make sure they are fulfilled", so less down times, more guarantees and even using technologies and softwares where you can certainly even influence their environments, if you have a view on their entire production process, and you have sensors that are beyond your own device, you can do a lot of analysis in the customer environment.

Roel Rentmeesters: And one of the areas that we have it's in the food industry, it's called food tech departments. They have sensors in the entire production from the egg, up to a filet of a chicken, and they can say, if you give more water or your air quality, or your airflow is like this, what is the influence on the filet that comes out in the end? Does it take longer? Is it becoming bigger, too big to produce, so they can pinpoint what is influencing your process, and we can do the same, if a door opens, and there's a lot of external air coming in, you can say to customers, "well, this is influencing your production, why don't you have your deliveries at night?" As an example, because we see the peaks in our unit saying, "oh, something is changing in the environment, making that I need to work harder, I use more energy or I even can't guarantee the outcome performance anymore."

Roel Rentmeesters: So that's why we need to go, it's more than a box, it is things around the box that we need to deliver and customers want it, and they want also fast response times, they want to avoid even technicians going on site, that's something that you specifically saw during COVID where people were afraid of having foreigners coming into their environment. So they want different ways to deliver service than you're doing traditionally today by sending out your technician with his parts and his screwdriver.

Sarah Nicastro: So, I don't create models. Okay. We'll leave that to Tim Baines at the Advanced Services Group, but if I were to just make the continuum quite generic, so you start as product manufacturer, service as a cost center, then you move to the phase of identifying more opportunity of service and its revenue contribution, and so putting more emphasis on it, which is really where you are today.

Roel Rentmeesters: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Then you would move toward true servitisation, which is, you're not selling products and services, you are selling the outcome.

Roel Rentmeesters: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. And then the point you brought up is a very good one is that there really is a fourth phase of this journey for those who choose it, which is, if you connect devices in the way you would need to servitize, you also, in certain industries or applications, often have access to information that your customers find a lot of value in.

Sarah Nicastro: So this is where you can bring that insight, data, knowledge into the value proposition to achieve that trusted advisor business partner type relationship.

Roel Rentmeesters: Yep.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. So let's talk about the point you made, which is maybe in the future of field service, we go into the field less.

Roel Rentmeesters: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: So during the very early points of COVID, Munters recognized the opportunity to deploy remote assistance, which is an augmented reality tool, because the realities were, you had technicians that could not travel, et cetera. Now this is something that had been on your future roadmap, so it had already been a consideration, but you recognize the opportunity to get right to that. So tell us a little bit about that journey and getting it deployed initially, and then we'll talk about how, now that travel is possible and things have normalized to a degree what that means for that solution.

Roel Rentmeesters: Yeah. It was an interesting time. So, like you say, I had been looking into remote management solution before and I wanted to use this mainly internally. So we have a third line support organization for our service technicians, and we thought, "how can we have a better interaction with them, guiding them, using mixed video, two signals being sent?" And I've been looking into different solutions, and then in the World Conference in Boston, from IFS, there was a third solution that I saw, but we would be rolling it out at some point, smaller scale, it was not so urgent, it would come and then COVID hit us. So I was in Italy when the first patient came on the cruise ship in Italy, and I was with my president and we said, "if this thing's hit it's Europe or Chinese technicians were already sitting at home, they could not travel anymore."

Roel Rentmeesters: We were like, "yeah, how are we going to guarantee service to our customers?" Because this preventive maintenance is really key in our units, otherwise they break down and you get problems in your production. So he said, "why don't we roll that thing out, you have been looking for, why don't you roll it out faster?" And so I contacted IFS and I said, "I saw this solution, I like it because it integrates with your field service management solution", meaning that if you have service calls and you would use this the time you spend it to whom you called, there would be a lot of registrations done from the video link that you put in, so I liked this for a future concept, and so IFS was responding very positively to this, we got 20 licenses for two weeks that we could test for free.

Roel Rentmeesters: We liked the solution. We gave it directly to our Italian engineers who were immediately stuck at home to start doing a service with our customers, then we bought the licenses, and I think within a couple of weeks we had rolled it out for 200 technicians worldwide. A very intuitive, easily to use solution, it is, it contains already training packages inside the application, you don't need an app to be installed on the customer environment, so you can just use his web browser that he has on his phone, and just a simple tablet, something with a camera, you can use it and you can interact with your customer. We asked our technicians to train, to use it before. So they started calling each other using the solution and playing a little bit with it, and then we organized seven training sessions where they could dial into, came in with concrete questions, because they had been playing with the system, and so within two weeks we had rolled it out for 200 technicians in 15 countries.

Sarah Nicastro: So, the need for change management is minimized when there is no option for business as usual.

Roel Rentmeesters: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: And it was impressive that you were able to recognize the need, move quickly, get it in place, and that helped you with business continuity during those lockdowns, but now that things have changed to be somewhat more normal, it gives you the opportunity and/or challenge of looking at how does the opportunity for remote service fit into the broader service delivery strategy.

Roel Rentmeesters: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: So what are your thoughts on that today?

Roel Rentmeesters: Yeah. First I need to say, we saw a significant reduction in the usage of the system, because our technicians and our customers still like you to go on site, often they have this relationship as well, so it's not just anybody who is picking up the phone and doing this remote session with your customer, and in the end, technicians will always have to go on site, will always have to do field interventions, commissionings, and trusted advisor, as you mentioned, customers still like this, but it doesn't mean that this is not a solution that you can use and still use for the future. You need to have a good business model behind it, is what we talked about earlier today. You can't sell, "we deliver remote managements", you need to sell a response commitment, you need to sell a fast response commitment, proper diagnose, faster potential resolution.

Roel Rentmeesters: So you need to have something behind it, an offering and a usage behind it. So we're building up our 24 by seven service towards customers, and that will be for me, twofold. It is connected units in the future where you can interact with the unit directly, it sends you an alarm or an alert, and you do something with the unit directly, or you use a customer that calls you at night and is standing in front of that device, and you do either your diagnose, help him maybe do certain things. So that is something that I see definitely as a business case and an offering for customers. Also, when you go into outcome based services and you want to reduce that downtime, you cannot permit yourself to send a technician who goes on site, maybe has to travel for two hours, does a diagnose, comes back, orders a part, goes for a second time to fix it, you don't have that luxury anymore at that time.

Roel Rentmeesters: So you really need to have solutions that can help you reduce the downtime, and don't forget, at the same time, that technician that maybe does this one visit during the day, if he's on duty to do remote management, he can maybe serve 20 customers that day, so from a value proposition for your customers, you have a different model.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Roel Rentmeesters: Look at it also for warranty claims. Warranty claims it's a pure costs. So again, if you need to send a technician, you spend the time, you spend the costs, we now impose actually that, when a customer comes with a claim, the first thing we will do is set up this remote session, so we will diagnose with him before we really say, "okay, this is a potential claim", and we continue further with our root cause analysis and all these things. And the last thing is internally we use it, our technicians still use it between each other. The third line support is still using it, they haven't stopped using it. So there is definitely use, but I can feel that my technicians, they still like the interaction with their customers on site rather than doing the remote sessions.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And I think part of the resistance around remote service is that people think remote only instead of remote first, and so it's interesting if you go back to the outside in view and putting the customer first, having these capabilities and making sure that, if it's a quick and easy resolution, they're not waiting two hours or four hours for someone to arrive just to flip a switch or what have you, and/or when you do send someone on site, they know what they're going for, so they can make sure that they're achieving resolution the first time. So what's interesting is, when you're at the phase of this continuum that you're at, it is tricky, because there's a focus on service, you've achieved some good results in terms of improving service revenue, but you haven't yet servitize.

Roel Rentmeesters: No.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. And so, from a customer perspective, a lot of times that service is still perceived as billable hours, face time, time in person. When you servitize, the potential for self-service and remote service increase exponentially, in the sense of, you're no longer having to justify the reduction of cost of service to your customers, because you're only responsible for the outcome, and so, the difference between that phase and the next and the role that remote service can play are pretty significant. Now that being said, the one other point that I do see a lot of people having success with is, using it for training of new technicians. So we haven't talked about this a lot today, but in most of the cities that we've been to, most of the conversations I have, there are real challenges in recruiting and hiring and retaining frontline workers.

Sarah Nicastro: And so using remote assistance, augmented reality, as a way to have, one, very experienced technician mentoring five or six, or whatever new technicians in the field allows you to speed their time to value when they come on board. So there are some really strong uses, it's just a matter of, like we talked about, the technologies here, the business model and everything else is here, and so when you have the capability, but that's not yet connected to your go to market strategy, that's where some of that friction comes into play.

Roel Rentmeesters: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. So we talked earlier about people process technology. So in your position, you are responsible for all three, right?

Roel Rentmeesters: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Which do you find the most challenging?

Roel Rentmeesters: The people one is the most important one to start with. Today, we are running initiative inside Munters, where we look into the entire end to end process and the systems that need to support that end to end process. So it's not just in the services organization, it is throughout the entire organization. It's a huge project, but we define that, if we want to move into that next stage for servitisation, the basics needs to be in place, you need to have a steady field forest, you need to have really good processes and you need to have the systems and the technology to support your way of working and systems is not one, it's not one ERP that does it all, you need to integrate it all, so technology is amazing, but bringing it all together and having it support your entire end to end process is a challenge.

Roel Rentmeesters: We've been busy with this for two years now, there's 250 people working on that project. We're about to start a pilot in end of January. So all three are a challenge, but the people are the most important one, and we've discussed it already all day long, if you don't have the buy in, if you don't include the users in this process, get their business requirements, help them see the testing, the end user testing, change management to communication, if you don't do these things, then you can have the brilliant technology and the best process, if they don't understand why and what it brings for them, they will not use it, and you will fail in such a project.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Roel Rentmeesters: So for me, people are the most important ones.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I agree. Okay. So what would you provide as your biggest lesson learned?

Roel Rentmeesters: I wanted to say that change management, and I think it's something that is very cumbersome today in Munters also, because the team is working so hard on trying to get this thing to work that I think they forget about the communication, they forget about the inclusion, another thing I want to say is, break it into pieces. If you have a long term vision like servitization and it's a lot of things together, it's your process, your system, how do you connect your devices, what is the customer value you want to bring for it? It's a lot of things, you need to chunk that down and work in sprints and clear agile way, like we said before, because if you want to do it all, you're bound to fail as well. So break it down and make sure you communicate properly and do your proper change management.

Sarah Nicastro: Sounds so easy when you say it. All right, any questions for Roel?

Audience question: What is your biggest challenge, do you think, going into servitization?

Roel Rentmeesters: We've been talking for five years to connect our units and none of them are connected. So, I think the problem is a little bit the silos that we were working in, we had, I analyzed 20 initiatives that started in local organizations to say, how do I connect our units? So what are the sensors? Where should we put them? And they're all really good, but they were local little things that were done.

Roel Rentmeesters: They form a good base for what we want to do now. So we are about to start the digitalization and connectivity, we call it digital services project, and this time we're going to try to do it right. A bit like the concept you've set up where you bring different departments together and stakeholders together, you don't use only internal resources that have been in the company for a long time, but you bring in new blood with new ideas, you have a longer term vision of what it could be, but you break it down into pieces to say, okay, this and this, and it doesn't need to be low hanging fruits, just, what is it we can really do? What could bring benefit and value? And then it's communication. So that for me is key to make it happen, so to go to this next stage, and that's where we are not today.

Sarah Nicastro: I was going to say too, the customer connectivity that's required, one of the challenges I see is, Berit, it goes back to your point of bringing in sales and marketing to the conversation, because what happens is, you're going to customers saying, "we need connectivity", and they're saying, "no, it's our data." So it's leading with the need, not the value to them. So it isn't about the value it brings you to reduce truck rolls, because they don't care.

Roel Rentmeesters: No.

Sarah Nicastro: But if you can ask the question framed in how it will help them, what capability it gives you to serve them better, I'm not saying it's an easy fix, but I think that's the starting point of getting to a different response.

Roel Rentmeesters: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.

Most Recent

July 6, 2022 | 32 Mins Read

Why and How Service Should be Prioritizing Sustainability, Now

July 6, 2022 | 32 Mins Read

Why and How Service Should be Prioritizing Sustainability, Now


Rainer Karcher, Global Director of IT Sustainability at Siemens, joins Sarah to discuss why service-based business should be prioritizing sustainability, how to do so, and what the future holds related to regulatory pressures, customer expectations, and investment decisions.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today we're going to be talking about why and how service should be prioritizing sustainability. Now, I'm excited to welcome to the podcast Rainer Karcher, who is the Global Director of IT Sustainability at Siemens. Rainer, thank you for being with me on today's podcast.

Rainer Karcher: Thank you very much for having me, Sarah. Pleasure being with you.

Sarah Nicastro: Rainer was one of the speakers at the Future of Field Service live tour event in Frankfurt. We had a great conversation, so great that I asked him to come and join me here on the podcast to talk about some of the key points that our audience needs to be thinking about when we think about sustainability.

Rainer, I think at the event we talked about the fact that not everyone eats, sleeps, and breathes sustainability in the way you do, but we all need to be prioritizing, becoming more mindful and more proactive about it right now. It's a very urgent thing. We're going to talk about that a bit, some of the reasons for that; but more specifically, some of the things that are particularly relevant for service as it relates to prioritizing sustainability and making a positive impact on our environment. Before we dig into that, tell everyone a little bit more about yourself.

Rainer Karcher: Thanks very much. I'm based in Munich here in Germany, and as you already introduced, I am responsible for sustainability within IT in particular at Siemens. this is a global role which is focusing mainly on three different pillars in regard of sustainability, which is already describing a bit the definition of what I look at and how I look at it. First of all, it is the sustainability slash Green IT. Making ourselves, making all the services, what we provide to Siemens internally, which is around 300,000 employees worldwide, as more sustainable and as less environmental impactful as possible.

The main pillar of the second pillar is to drive the ambition targets of Siemens as a company with IT digitalization data analytics. So, this is the it for sustainability pillar. The third one then is the IT to society aspect. So wherever digitalization can support societal aspects like education and supporting with equipment donations. So, this is then the third aspect, which is part of my role. I'm doing that together with a small little team. To drive the company, this is, I said, already a governmental role so I'm the one defining the strategy for the company and trying to then involve all the operational units and the responsible respective service owners who is then adopting and just translating what I come up with then into actions and into measures.

Sarah Nicastro: Good. This is a topic that you are very, very passionate about, which means that you also spend a good amount of your time coming to events like you did in Frankfurt and speaking here on the podcast. Even when it's a bit outside of your day-to-day, you have taken it upon yourself to educate and evangelize the importance of the topic. What makes you so passionate about this topic? How did you initially get interested, involved, and ultimately to the point where you've made a career around this?

Rainer Karcher: Thank you very much for asking that question, Sarah. It is always, to think about, is that something where started at birth? Is it something which I had been green and sustainable from day one on? Without any doubt, I had not. It was in particular, my wife being pregnant with our first daughter, in the meantime she's 11 years old, and with a pregnancy, we started thinking about what is the future for our kids looking like, and what is clothings, and what is food, and what is the whole surrounding we are living at, and how can we make that more natural? How can we make that less impactful in regard of pollution and noise and all of that. That was the starting of it. It led me to then furthermore environmental aspects to support local NGOs, local charities, which are here based in the Munich area.

It brought me more and more into the whole area of understanding what sustainability is all about. The term itself, nowadays, if you look at it, is mostly understood with climate, with maybe decarbonization, and with carbon emissions in the atmosphere. But sustainability itself is so much more. You just already mentioned this, I'm in particular stepping out of my regular comfort zone, I would say, and getting to events and taking invitations like the ones I get from you and appreciate it to be able to speak to and get influenced by others and maybe inspire them as well. So everything I do in the meantime is based on the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals, and one of that 17 goals, the last one, SDG 17 is on partnership for the good. Partnership means work together, collaborate with others, in particular, and you said that as well already, we have to join forces to act now.

We don't have the time to maybe delay and just invent the wheel, everybody by itself. We need to come up with a very quick and fast way of acting and making things happen. This only can be done if we do it together and join forces; meaning, to share knowledge, to share the experience, the good and the bad, just share what has happened good, and what was maybe not successful to just avoid everybody else making the same mistakes. And so, this is maybe how it turned more and more from at the beginning, a very little thing, into something which became my biggest passion. I mean, maybe this explains why I, as a typical IT guy, in IT since 24 years, then had the opportunity to turn two years back from a standard type of an IT person into a sustainability IT person. Nowadays I'm speaking both languages, translating between both worlds, and this became exactly, as I said, my biggest passion.

Sarah Nicastro: That's really cool. I think it's interesting how having kids changes you and your perspective. Just really gives you that broader and longer term awareness. I mean, even it's such an interesting dynamic. You think when you're young, you think you're invincible. The older you get, the more you realize how precious everything around us really is.

For this podcast, I mean, what I want to do is give people a sense of some of the areas of impact that ... We talk a lot on this podcast, Rainer about the fact that service leaders are already tasked with so much. They're supposed to keep up with the day-to-day business. They need to meet the current needs of customers, all the while innovating and thinking about how service delivery is evolving, et cetera. My goal is not to come in here and say, okay, and now also, this also needs to be your number one priority. But the reality to your point is it needs to be a priority for all of us. So I just want people to have it be a part of their consideration and decisions. Because as we're going to talk about, there are some things going on in service that can have a really positive impact on the environment, but also a positive impact on the business and some of the goals that these folks are working towards.

We're going to get into some of the service related points, but before we do that, I know you were at a few conferences this week talking about these topics, et cetera. Just to set the broader stage for those listening who might not be themselves involved in sustainability day in and day out, can you just talk a little bit about where is the most progress happening and what can we learn from that? And what are still the biggest gaps and obstacles we need to overcome?

Rainer Karcher: With pleasure. Thanks for that very important question. I mean, it all starts with transparency. To be sustainable, you first need to know where you currently. That is for nearly everything. If you don't know how much waste you are producing, if you don't know how much miles you covered with business trips, if you do not know how much gas you burned with being physically present with your customers or with anybody you're just trying to support, if you do not know what the carbon emissions are caused by, for example, data centers, which has been operated by yourself or where you host your services at, then you're not able to influence it in any way. Therefore, and this is the biggest progress which has been made from my perspective within the last 7, 8, 9 months, that where it was quite hard as I started my job two years back to get any kind of information in a reliable way without the big chance that there is a lot of marketing part in it as well, and this still happens from time to time.

So the typical term of greenwashing, some of most prominent things is carbon offsets at the moment. A lot of products are declared carbon free or carbon neutral. The reality is that there is mostly offset certificates behind. The product itself is still the whole same thing. Nothing has been changed, no optimization, no increased efficiency, so that the environmental impact of that product still is the same but there is now a sticker on it because it's a very nice prominent thing. It's just paying an offset price, which is way less than the environment impact itself would be. Therefore, what we need to have is a transparency, and we've got that. And the numbers and the reliability of those numbers is now helping to understand what can be done.

In particular, the aspect of energy efficiency, if it comes to understanding how can it further improve consumption of electricity, for example. This is something where we've already made good progress as well. If you take the example of hyperscalers on cloud service providers, they do tremendously good things now and have a good progress made, all of them in the last couple of month, in just optimizing the data center structure and the surrounding in that remark. But this is only one of the aspects, and there is plenty of others where we still not a clue of how to make things happen and whether is standards missing.

One of the aspects which we are currently looking at is a so-called product passport, which is describing the product footprint and the environmental impact of a certain product, which can be even a service. It doesn't have to be physical products. It could be a service provisioning in regards to software, for example, as well. The problem with this is there is no standards defined, which are globally available, and which are then valid to make it comparable. With that, we have hard times in, first of all, getting reliable numbers. Then secondly, we have hard times in calculating and finding algorithms, which are then helping to understand what then a certain type of a component or a product, meaning copper or iron or whatever it might be, what that means from an environmental impact, and how to then measure it. Again, back to what the starting is all about, it is the transparency which we need to have to make things happen and to change. This is something where we are still at the beginning.

In certain aspects, we do have an idea of how to drive things and in certain others, we don't. One thing which I'm always pointing towards is biodiversity. Species, which is maybe even a bigger crisis than we are already facing than climate, and nobody is really having a clue currently. Even the most famous scientists and biologists don't have even an understanding of what could be done and what would be the solution to drive things different. But we have to report that. Why I mention that in particular, now the audience could mention, well, that is an IT guy. Why is he talking about biodiversity? Well, there is directives coming across. Here in Europe, for example, just two days back from the European Commission agreed a so-called CSRD, that's the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. This is hitting companies with a large than 250 employees from the year 2024 on, looking backwards to data from 2023.

This is nothing which is way above in the future. This is quite close to us. That's 107 KPIs from which there is a certain amount facing towards biodiversity. So we need to report what is the current influence on production sites in regard of species, bees or insects, and what is maybe lighting of those buildings having effects on. So, there is a lot of things where numbers are required, where measurement is required, where we don't even have an understanding how to get to the numbers and not even a clue then how to get influenced and maybe then further improve it. So, this is one of the biggest challenges which lies ahead of us.

Sarah Nicastro: I just thought of one other question I want to ask. So, yours is a global role. You're based in Germany, but yours is a global role. What, I guess, region of the world would you say is farthest along and is lagging behind in terms of overall focus and progress related to the topic?

Rainer Karcher: That's a very difficult question to answer politically correct, but I'll try my very best. I mean, in general, you have to always try to get the perspective of people who are affected and who do have a special situation and special challenge they have to face. It would be an easy one to point towards China, towards India, to say, well, as long as they are burning coal as hell, why should we change things what we do? But first of all, we need to understand why things are happening in China, which are happening, or in India. One of the aspects which I didn't had a clue about is that in India, there is still around 80% of households without electricity. Burning coal for them means just fulfilling basic needs. That is cooking, that is heating in winter times.

That is not, in a way, like we look at it. For us, it might be an easy thing to replace coal with more renewable energies and sustainable way of creating electricity. But for India in particular, it is a very much difficult situation. So therefore, it is not something you can just easily point towards and say, "Well, they are behind all of us and lagging behind of us." What I would look at it is a level of awareness. If you just now treat the European world and the American world in particular, I think we do have, at least from an awareness perspective, we are on top. We know way better than most of the Chinese, the Asian world, or the Southern American world, what the current consumption and current emissions look like, what we are responsible for, what the effect is of what we are responsible for with a day-to-day consumption, with whatever we do for business purposes.

From that point of view, I think we are ahead of us and we need to be, because this is the second thing and that's a message which I would like to point towards as well. The current change in temperature, the current climate crisis which we are already seeing, the first outcome of, is a outcome of what we had been responsible for. And that is for a particular reason. Carbon is nothing which reacts immediately. It's not the carbon, which now is being emitted which is reacting a day or two later. There is a time spanning between. This is around 30 to 35 years. The changes which are happening right now is caused by energy emissions by carbon which has been emitted 30 years back. So if you now look at India and China 30 years back, it wasn't them consuming and emitting the most. It was us.

And so, therefore there is a responsibility and we have therefore, at least a bit of a lighthouse function there as well. We need to be front runners. We need to show that we are able to do things different, and we can do things more in a sustainable way and in a different, in a more responsible way than what we've done in the past. Then I am just 100% sure that the Asian world, China, India, and the Southern American world will follow. I hope I answered that in a politically-correct way without pointing towards anyone.

Sarah Nicastro: I realize, and apologize, it may have been a bit of an unfair question. I think the reason I was asking that is because I see Europe being further ahead with this than even the US. I mean, I'm in the US. I think that there are pockets of greater awareness, pockets of greater focus, but there's also pockets of sort of a, I think sometimes you still have a mentality of, "Well, it's not my problem," or "I get it, but I only care about or am so tied to the pressure of this day-to-day stuff."

And so, one of the things I wanted to point out before we talk about some of these specific areas of focus is that while I absolutely appreciate and respect your personal passion for this, that it does not need to be shared to that degree by people to have a positive impact. What I mean is, the content that we're going to share here is not only applicable to people who altruistically want to prioritize this because they care as much as you do. The reality is there's a few other reasons that are very important to consider what we're about to share. Yes, it is the impact and the fact that we should care, but it is also the fact that a lot of the things we're going to talk through simultaneously can positively impact the business and the bottom line and the environment.

There's also the fact of, as you mentioned, particularly in Europe, there are regulations coming along pretty quickly that are going to force more focus on this. I think that will also be the case in the US. So, there's an argument for, don't wait until you're behind to try and catch up. Get ahead of it. Put some emphasis on it now, so that you're in a better position and you're not having to be reactive.

Finally, I think it's a growing reality that your customers, meaning the people I'm speaking to in our audience, care more and more; which means, they're going to be looking more and more closely at this and expecting more from their providers and partners. And so, those are all reasons outside of just genuinely caring that this demands focus from service organizations. So I just wanted to make sure folks understand that even if they're not as personally tied to this topic as you are, they don't need to necessarily get to that level to share the passion for the impact of it, which is also in those other areas. Does that make sense?

Rainer Karcher: If I may comment on that, it does totally makes sense. Thanks for bringing that up. I mean, this is something which I think the history just showed. I mean, science is pointing towards climate crisis this nearly 100 years. So there is scientists all over the world, independent on where they are, which are trying to understand and making us understand what the outcome is of what we do on a day-to-day basis. And so far, unfortunately, it had not been understood in a broader way. There is one term which I always try to come up with, which is, it doesn't require to have a handful of people doing everything perfect. It requires a majority of people doing a lot of things in the right way. This is then the bigger impact.

So exactly as to say, we need to come to an understanding that there is many different ways why it is a good thing and a good idea to take things different and make it a more sustainable product, a more sustainable service in the future than what had happened in the past. You mentioned already the legal requirements, which is indeed one of the major aspects. I mean, the European Green Deal which I've just pointed towards is only one out of currently seven green deals. There is one which is in the US, active and coming up as well. Same for Southern Europe, same for China, same for Asian world. So, that's one of them.

There is the customers. You said that as well. More and more customers are demanding to see what is the outcome of a product, in particular if it is within the supply chain. So pointing towards ourselves, Siemens is working with 65,000 tier one suppliers. To have a transparent view on what's going to happen, I just can't demand it. I need to work together with them. I need to just support them in getting the transparent view on that. Then are we able then to provide the environmental impact aspects to our customers only in a joint approach then as well.

One thing which is coming on top beside the public opinion, which is I think, worth mentioning as well. So it's not only a public opinion, but then employees or future employees. Talent attraction comes here into the game as well. Gen Z, who is coming from universities or used to be prior to pandemic standing on the street we defined as the future, they are the ones not working for a company who's not taking things serious. And so, to be able to proceed with our business, we have to be attractive for people who are interested in sustainability in a real way.

But one thing was, at least I do see in a very increasing way since now six months is investors. We at Siemens are very much faced from investors who are asking and demanding to see real action. They want to have it in a quarterly basis reported what is the KPIs, what Siemens is working towards in regard of sustainability measures. Not only carbon and decarbonized world, but there is female sharing management. There is learning hours of employees. There is diversity, equity, and gender equality aspects in addition. There is so many things which are now demanded from investors. I mean, in that remark, we are talking about money and about financial investment.

If the investors define a company who is somewhere listed and stuck, not as sustainable anymore, and they're pulling out their investments, then we know the outcome. So that's something which I think is hopefully convincing that there is more than just the environmental care aspect. There is more than just taking care on the future of our planet, which should be anyhow a basic for everybody. But without that, even if you're not convinced of things, there is a list of reasons now and requirements which are hopefully bringing you to convince yourself that this is worth thinking about it.

Sarah Nicastro: For sure. All right. At the event in Frankfurt, we touched on a couple of different things that are specific to field service and service that I want to run through. We don't need to get super detailed on each, but we'll just surface these as points for our audience to consider that both can benefit the business but also have a positive impact here.

The first is optimization of resources, particularly related to dynamic scheduling and routing and making sure that we don't have a lot of waste in travel. And so, are we making sure that we're paying attention to first time fix and getting resolution to where we're not doing repeat trips, and making sure that the person that we're sending has the right skills, has the right parts, so that we're not just wasting time on the business side, and then all of that travel on the environmental side. So, that's one. Anything you want to point out there? Or I can just run through these and then we can talk about any of the things that are interesting.

Rainer Karcher: Well, maybe I can give an example of exactly that concrete idea, what you just said to avoid maybe travel, to avoid then the energy consumption or burning gas, in that remark. One thing which my former colleagues from Siemens Energy who is now a separated owned legal entity, so therefore it's nothing which is in my influence, but I think a very good example worth mentioning. Maintenance on windmills or power plants is very specific and requires a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge and understanding. Therefore in the past, it had most been Siemens' employees, technicians from us, who had required to do the maintenance on site. So whenever there was even some little issues, it was always some Siemens technicians physically traveling to then the power plan, to the windmill, to make maintenance or repairing aspects.

What we've then achieved is the way to support customers who are on site and who are anyhow there which might not have the right understanding or experience based on their level of work with a remote way. So there is now a type of augmented reality combined type of maintenance way. There is a tablet which is combined with a helmet camera with inner devices, which is then leading a technician remotely. The Siemens employees, the experienced experts, are sitting somewhere in Siemens headquarters and guiding an onsite technician who's anyhow there through the whole process. There is the information about, I don't know, maintenance parts, part numbers, how to dismantle or mantle some components being displayed then in an augmented way into glasses, or then on the tablet, helping him and supporting him. This is avoiding a huge amount of physical travel and is therefore helping to protect the environment as well because of avoided emissions due to travel. That's just one of the examples exactly facing towards what you said.

Sarah Nicastro: I had that on the list as well. I guess the reason I'm considering those two different things is only because in the situations where it is actually essential to send someone, then let's make sure we're doing so in the most efficient way. So, there's two parts to that: make sure that we're eliminating the things that are not essential; and then make sure that when the visit is essential, that the person going is prepared and has what they need so that they don't have to go back and forth. The remote service and remote collaboration capabilities is another really good point. I think that comes in a few different ways. I mean, certainly there's the element of exactly what you said. Can we use remote assistance, augmented reality to help customers resolve issues that historically someone would go on site to do that are quite basic, that they're probably quite capable of. It gives them faster resolution and it avoids that travel.

We also see this though with things like, even internal to an organization. I'll give you an example. We did a podcast a while back with Munters who implemented remote assistance at the very, very beginning of the pandemic because their technicians could not travel. And so, this was their sort of business continuity plan. But what they ended up finding once they were using it is that when they used to open a new production facility, they would send all of these internal experts there to essentially do what was more of like a quality check. More of an assessment. Now they can do all of that remotely. So, they started to find all of these other ways where it was this technology that allows you to see what someone's seeing to annotate and to provide that type of guidance as if you were also there. There's a lot of situations where that can come into play and really alleviate the need to do as much in-person service and travel. So I think that is a really powerful, powerful thing.

The other thing is if you have technicians again who do need to be on site and they get stuck, They don't know how to complete the job. If you have that technology and they can get help from the back office again, you're avoiding a repeat visit. So, there's quite a bit there between the remote service and the remote collaboration tools, and then making sure that when travel is necessary, it's done in the most efficient manner. Those are things that have a positive impact.

The other one that came up at the event is a greener fleet. And so, what are you seeing in terms of trends of fleet selection and replacement and what opportunities there are there for people to make better choices?

Rainer Karcher: Maybe if I may, I could comment, first of all, to the first point which you came up with, which I 100% agree to avoidance and something to just be quite well aware of what is important, and if there is someone locally required, then to have it as much efficient as possible. One thing which is in my mind is prediction. What we do, in particular with IoT devices, our trains, for example, are producing a huge amount of data which has been used to predict when there is maintenance required.

What we are able to do with that is we can predict where at that moment a train is being physically located if we have to exchange certain parts, if there is a maintenance required. We are able to predict as well, what components might be required, what kind of replacement components might be required. So what we avoid is then that a service technician is in an urgency call somewhere, and then is required to, first of all, identify what type of components are required. Then as soon as he's there, and then he has to maybe order those replacement parts because they are physically located in the same area.

And so, this is first of all, a massive increase of timing. We are way less efficient if we don't have that opportunity. Secondly, it is having a great impact then in regard of maybe a second or a third type of travel back and forth to be able then to do that maintenance or replacement. If you can predict it with using data, with using IT and technology, this is helping in all various aspects. It is increasing the service quality. It is increasing the speed of maintenance. In particular, it is lowering cost. It is lowering efficiency ... not lowering efficiency, lowering emissions in regard of increasing the efficiency. So therefore, I think this is something which can help here as well, and is just a way which already exists. This is not artificial. This is not a future part. This is already something which is there.

Coming towards the question of fleet, indeed for us at Siemens, one of the biggest, biggest portions of greenhouse gas emissions is indeed fleet because we have service technicians and service cars running and for several reasons. Well, for sure, this is the typical type of diesel engines which are being used. One of the aspects is, for sure, electrification. Electrification of fleet and of fleet cars in particular is something which is definitely one of the ways to treat it, because as soon as I've electrified, I can make use of renewable energy as a source, and that is something which helps then to lower the emissions.

Is that the answer and the solution for everything? Well, I mean, that question is as much treated as the question is electrified cars the solution, or is it something which is even worse? Well, my perspective is electrification is the currently only way what we have as an alternative. We have to stop burning fossils in general. There is no alternative and there is no way in keeping what we have. The only way possible is then electrified. Well, this is quite harder, and this is maybe one of the big differences between the US and Germany. I mean, in Germany, the size of the country is just way, way lower and smaller. So with the current capacities of batteries, of electrified cars, we can cover most of our country.

I mean, in the US, some of the US states are the same size than what Germany is all about, so this is harder. Therefore, it requires, for sure, more solutions. Maybe there is some upcoming things with hydrogen, which might be worth looking into, but this is more a future thing. But in particular is I think worth looking into it from, again, the efficiency perspective, if you know which distances had been covered and for what reason you are able maybe to optimize it. Maybe you can just combine ways. Maybe you could just combine some of the trips back and forth and reduce the amount due to knowing what the whole situation is all about. And this is again requiring data.

Sarah Nicastro: It's a good point too, about predictive, and to your point, not only predicting issues and failures and getting ahead of that, because the more you can be proactive, the more you can plan intelligently and in a way that is beneficial. But also to your point, predicting parts needed and coordinating that into everything.

A couple more points to get through. The next one is related to servitization and the move toward as a service. This to me is super exciting because essentially what we're talking about is manufacturing things for lifespan and serviceability versus initial purchase price, which allows us to put more innovation into creating things in a more sustainable way. Then, if a company has shifted to as a service, any of the efforts they put into creating more efficiency, lowering the cost of service, et cetera, benefits them, benefits the environment, but the customer is essentially paying for the outcome.

Then the other part of this is around the circular economy where traditionally a customer purchases an asset, so let's take an HVAC unit. The manufacturer then provides service on that. But at the point that the customer moves to a different building or needs something else, the manufacturer has no visibility or control over what happens with that asset. So in and as a service model, they are able to swap assets in and out of different situations. They're able to put them back into use with another customer. They are able to remanufacture, et cetera. I think this to me is such a big area of potential of where service and sustainability can really come together.

Rainer Karcher: 100% agreed on that.

Sarah Nicastro: What are your thoughts?

Rainer Karcher: 100% agreed. I mean, to stick the example of cloudification and hyperscalers, hyperscalers are itself enforced to be as much economical optimized as possible because of cost efficiency. That's their main interest: to make a data center as much filled from a load perspective as possible to make it as much energy efficient as possible because of economic reasons. What we, as IT companies, are mostly consuming is then a service. So there is exactly the way from what you've described, a way from what we've done in the past with on demand, any kind of own operated data centers and servers to as a service models within the hyperscalers. What it created is a huge opportunity.

So this is theoretical values and very much the optimized way, but there is a number which is calculated from all of the hyperscalers. If you put systems from on-prem data centers into hyperscalers, there is a chance of reducing carbon emissions by 80%, eight-zero. I mean, this is just showing what the opportunity is all about. Exactly, as you said, there is so much more in it because of the responsibility, which is then shifted from the one who is consuming to the one who is providing the service. I think this is something, whether it's huge opportunities to take influence in so many different aspects.

As you just mentioned, that topic of circle economy, I would like to come up with another example. We are worldwide active as a company, 300,000 employees. That makes it 300,000 end user equipment devices. That means laptops, smartphones, any kind of equipment which is used on a day-to-day basis, which is exchanged after a series of time. At the current situation where we purchased the devices in most of the countries, we have to take care on refurbishment or recycling afterwards. If there is a as a service topic, which by the way is being worked on from our perspective at the moment for those equipment, I do have 100% secured that there is a partner which is reliable, which is documenting what he's doing in a societal and environmentally friendly way, what is happening with those devices after using them. And this is something which helps us backwards to the reporting aspect, which I've spoken about. So all the directives, they do have certain KPIs within which is focusing exactly on this. Refurbishment rates, recycling rates, which we have to document.

Secondly, I can't be ensured that there is not a partner, maybe treating things wrong and just making money out of. I do have, therefore, I think, a huge impact with as a service constructions exactly as you described that into various different aspects as well. It makes it a win-win for both sites, because I think this is something which is not only helping those who are consuming, but those who are providing the service the same way.

Sarah Nicastro: That's the thing. Going back to what I said a bit earlier, that's what I want to encourage people to do, at least initially, is look for those win-win scenarios. I mean, this doesn't have to be something that is just a cost. There are areas, if we're smart about this, that can impact both the business and the environment positively. Let's focus on those things at least, and the low hanging fruit, if you will. Then maybe as we make some progress, you can shift toward investing in a new fleet or what have you. Right?

The last thing on my list, and we've done a couple of podcasts on this. One was with bureau Veritas, one was with Tetra Pak, and it's around how those organizations are creating new service offerings for their customers around sustainability. Looking for ways to help their customers focus on their sustainability efforts. This obviously depends on what industry you're in and what types of customers you're servicing. But there is a potential opportunity to look at the option of increasing your portfolio of services by helping your customer base focus on these same things. So, go ahead. Were you going to say something?

Rainer Karcher: I was just going to, again, echo what you said and agree of what you said 100%. This is something I would like to particularly mention, but because there is so much more chances than challenges. I mean, the topic itself is currently on everybody's focus. It is a priority topic. Anyhow, it's quite prominently spoken about everywhere and there is huge, huge opportunities being created out of that aspect. It is something, if you treat that right, if you just be the one taking things serious, you can just separate from competitors, even in that remark as well, and show things which are then valuable. I am 100% then sure that this is a benefit, then not only for the environment, not only for the customers, but for the company providing that service then as well. This is something which is definitely more worth mentioning than just avoiding it and just bypassing and saying, "Well, I don't mind. This is not something I have to look into." I just wanted to agree with you.

Sarah Nicastro: For sure. Two more questions. Let's talk about why companies shouldn't wait until this is more of a mandate or a more urgent customer pressure to start prioritizing these things now.

Rainer Karcher: Well, first of all, there is, they already mentioned directives, which are quite quickly hitting us. If, and now, again back to Europe, look at the timeline, we have to start reporting by January 1st, 2024, which might seem to be far away. But we have to report numbers from 2023. If I do not start collecting those numbers in less than six months, I don't have anything to report at. This is the first. Secondly, the sooner I get into this, the more time I do have to be proactive and not just wait for someone to push me towards something and to enforce me to do something different. Third, I think it is quite of importance to show proactively that we are taking things serious in our enterprises, in our companies, in our surroundings, not only to show to competitors, but to show to the consumers, to our customers as well, that the current perspective is on priority aspects like the sustainability topic is, as I already mentioned.

And so, with that in mind, I think it is more than just one reason why it is of importance not to wait for it beside then the fact that this is once again my passion coming into this. If you take the latest IPCC World Climate Report, it says clearly and points to what the remaining carbon budget. So the emissions, which is able to be covered by the planet to still stick with one to five degree global warming. This is a timeframe of less than seven and a half years. That time window is closing dramatically and the longer we'll wait, the harder the cut has to be. The longer we wait with reducing carbon emissions and keep going what currently by the way is the case.

So after the pandemic, obviously, well, it seems to have stopped even if it probably still is there, but it has not been as prominent at the moment anymore. The emissions are going up at the moment and not going down. What we would have to do? And so, the longer we keep going, the harder the cut has to be. This is something which I think makes it worth looking into it already right now and not wait for it.

Sarah Nicastro: That makes sense. All right, so last question. Stepping away from the business conversation and tapping into more of your passion for this topic. For the folks that are listening who do share some of your passion and recognize the criticality of all of this, are there a couple of things you could point to that as individuals we could focus on to contribute and have a positive impact?

Rainer Karcher: Yeah, definitely with pleasure. Thanks for that question again, Sarah. First of all, don't feel alone. There is plenty of you and of us with the same passion, with the same awareness, and we're getting more. This is the first thing. And joint forces means get together. Even if you're at the starting, don't get disappointed, don't get overwhelmed with all the terms and all the specific areas to look into.

Secondly, don't get disappointed with the overwhelming amount of negative messages which are coming across. There is always a chance to be in a changing position. The change starts with ourselves, exactly as you said. There is sometimes just a little thing. So if you look into the electricity topic, I mean maybe unplugging devices instead of keeping them in standby is one of the first things. This is not influencing only carbon emissions, but your own wallet as well. Because, I mean, energy is getting more and more expensive. If you unplug, this is reducing. A number just to throw at, if you keep your laptop plugged in all the time, 365 days, 24 hours a day, this consumes, even if it's just in stand by $50 per year, just with a standby instead of plugging it off. $50 in my wallet or not makes a difference. This is one of the examples.

Same is with usage of devices. Is it required to exchange the smartphone every two years? Well, the vendors just want us to, and the marketing wants us to. Is it from an environmental perspective, the good thing? It's not. The longer we use it, the better it is for the environment. Then it goes just in the same way with making use of data. Nowadays data and taking the example of a smartphone, pictures are stored mostly in cloud, and it doesn't even cost you a thing so you just forget about it. You take plenty of pictures, you forget about it. They are stored somewhere. Well, the problem with that is we have billions of smartphones all over the world and everybody is using the same thing and doing that picture thing. Whatever is being stored, a single picture currently is with a resolution of modern smartphone, seven to eight megabytes.

If you just sum that up with that multimillion of pictures being taken day to day, there is storage systems behind. And one of the most increasing topic currently is data centers and the energy consumption of data centers therefore is increasing because of we are just not thinking about it. So get aware of what you do, get aware of what the current situation is, of what your behaviors look like, and change. As I've said, the change start with ourselves. If you change our behavior with the little things, all the little things combined make big things as well and make a big step. This is then getting, I think, the stone rolling and hopefully leading then to a bit more of awareness and for the next steps.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, perfect. Thank you, Rainer. I really appreciate it. I have immense respect for your passion on this topic and your insights, and I'm so thankful for you to come and share with our audience and give them some food for thought.

Rainer Karcher: My pleasure, and always coming back if you want me to. Thank you very much, Sarah.

Sarah Nicastro: Excellent. Thank you. You can find more on this topic and many others by visiting us at You can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter, @thefutureoffs. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at As always, thank you for listening.

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