Remote onboarding to record breaking performance

02 November by Callum Riley-Pitt

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Callum joined us in April 2021 as a D365 F&O Contract specialist recruitment consultant. Although he had a background in IT recruitment he had never worked in Microsoft Dynamics before but by September, he had already beaten a previous company record that had stood for years and even came very close to equalling the individual best-ever monthly performance. Although he humbly said when we chatted that recruitment is about luck and timing, we wanted to catch up and talk through his journey so far and find out how he manged to settle in so quickly...

First of all, to explain the photo - I am a keen angler and I am delighted to say that this was taken during one of our "Fortnight Fridays". Working a 9-day fortnight means we get every other Friday off to do whatever we want. I mean, alongside being a fantastic benefit, it really does help you to be more productive during the week as you want to ensure you make the most of the "free" day. The best things in life are free after all. It helps to clear your head and focus during the days you are working, and it also really reinforces the adult environment at Cognitive; they trust you to put the effort in when needed and in turn will reward you. And I've really seen the value in that.

So, let's start at the start: I was a "Covid19 Baby" if you will...

I was a bit of a Guinea Pig with the onboarding during Covid (as I'm sure a lot of new starters were around the world!) and it was the first time I had been into London in 10 months, so I was a little apprehensive. But since the day I stepped through the office everyone was just so welcoming and I was provided with everything I needed at my disposal, and more. I'm pleased to say that this feeling of inclusions has continued and it's been a great journey so far, I even managed to pass my probation early... Not bad for pandemic!

Learning the tech.

My background is in generic IT and Business Intelligence, so I had the foundations but I had never worked with Microsoft Dynamics before and it was a little overwhelming at first being so niche. However, both Sean and Dave were on hand to go through the market with me and that was really useful as they both specialise in different areas, with Sean having been with the company since Cognitive began!

If I look back, it probably took me about 2 and half months to really get up to speed, but everyone was so supportive and even said to me it won’t all click until a few months in, and that was about right… initially it felt a little like trial and error, with me relying on their feedback before committing candidates to roles, but that’s just because the standard is so high with our clients having such trust in us to deliver the right people. Understanding the technology is integral to that, which I now feel much more confident in.

I’m even planning to sit the Microsoft D365 F&O exam, following in a few of the other guys’ footsteps internally....

I think this is a great point of difference - Cognitive, and Dave especially (who is my manager) not only gave me the time to learn, but really encouraged me to do it. So I spent a fair bit of time going through the Microsoft exam prep when I joined - about 12 hours of learning material - which I found extremely valuable, as it helped me grasp the key concepts of Dynamics, specifically how F&O links with CE and the HR side of things.

Collaboration is key to building up your knowledge.

I think if I had had some of the bigger opportunities in my second month it would have been quite daunting, but now, I do have a network of my own and when we are all sitting in the office and sharing potential candidates and names, I can add value too… for me, that’s when you really feel like you know the market, and in F&O it really is about building relationships and getting to know the community – which is something I hadn’t experienced before, it was all about volume in my role before this. But Cognitive is different, and I really enjoy how collaborative the teams are.

I really like the hybrid work environment we all work in, it’s a good split.

This set up compared to my previous consultancy is worlds apart. I was the only one who did what I did and my interaction with people was very limited, which was tough, but here at Cognitive we have strong contract team, 7 or 8 of us now, and we all catch up regularly. Having the face-to-face connection twice a week is great but having the time at home is beneficial for everyone too, so I don’t think I could go back to a fully office-based role now.

I am mostly looking forward to getting out and meeting clients and candidates again, it’s definitely something that I think is important... I’m also getting a little tired of Teams meetings now, as I’m sure most are, so, hopefully it is something we can look to increase now that people are feeling more comfortable heading out and about.

If you are looking at your options, I would really consider how much of a difference it makes working for a niche consultancy. So many clients have responded to me and in BD activities saying things like "you guys have been in the market for 14 years, you know what you’re talking about, you’ve got the network to support it and the data to back you up, so I’m happy to talk and have those conversations". I truly believe that not just anyone can recruit for Dynamics or Azure, but there are so many opportunities out there at the moment so now is the time to specialise.