Holding a senior role within the Tech-industry, Stephen Caulfield makes sure he's always curious and a forward-thinker. Stephen speaks to The Industry Leaders about his journey so far and why failing to leverage tech, or listen to what your customers want, will mean you're soon left behind.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I fell into the IT Services industry almost by mistake over 30 years ago, and I have been here ever since. Firstly I was on the training side as a trainer and then got into support specifically Managed Services, Support Services and Field Services. For the last 25 years, I have been working for US Corporates and the last 18 of those with Dell Technologies. I currently run our Global Field Services business which includes responsibility for Dell's warranty break-fix Field business and our partner delivered deployments.
What kind of work does your role involve?
Services is a people relationship business, so I spend a lot of my time talking with our Field partners and our Dell teams. My role's key outcome is ensuring that our Field Technicians get to our customers on-time and fix their issue the first time. Customers are now increasingly looking to technology when it comes to requesting and receiving service, so I spend a lot of time looking at the latest technologies to help our business. This ranges from the technology we put in our Field Technicians' hands to how we enable our customer to control and manage their service event with us.
What gets you excited about your industry?
Being in the Technology industry is a great place to be these days. However, the reality is that every industry is a quasi-technology industry, such is the importance of technology and data to every business sector. Customers' expectations of how service will be delivered to them have changed significantly. I would summarise it as a move to servicing customers at their convenience rather than the traditional method of doing it conveniently for the service provider. If you are not leveraging data, technology, listening to what your customers truly want and skilling up your teams accordingly, you will get left behind!
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
View your achievements in terms of what you would like written on your gravestone. It helps you focus on the important things in life. For me, I would like it to read "Good father, good husband, good friend.".
This helps me a lot when I am in danger of letting my work take over too much, and it keeps me grounded.
What, or who inspires you?
Day to day working with my incredibly talented team is always inspiring, particularly watching how seamlessly they have adapted to the COVID inflicted changes in how we work while delivering exceptional service to our customers.
I am a sports fanatic so take a lot of inspiration from sporting figures. Watching Jurgen Klopp's approach to man-management at Liverpool has been incredible. My first rugby coach taught me that loving the sport you play keeps you playing; not being the best at it. This applies equally to work.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
By being curious. I stay connected to groups like TSIA, Service Council, WBR etc., which helps me stay on top of current trends in the Field Services sector. I also listen to Podcasts such as Trailblazers which is one of the best out there. However, there is also much to learn as I go about my daily life. I watch how my children leverage technology, such as apps on their phones to get things done. Outside of work, I am very conscious of how I receive service, especially at home. What I have discovered is that the best learnings are to be found outside of our industry!
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
Rather than a specific project, I will share a situation that occurs frequently, particularly over the last few years. The situation is where you are looking to introduce something new and innovative and meet resistance from senior leaders and peers who are more risk-averse than you.
This is where I adopt the "Ask forgiveness, not permission" approach. If you genuinely believe that you have a game-changer then experiment with it and prove it in a safe environment. It is much easier to get someone onside with something you can prove works; everyone wants to be associated with success!!
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
If I found it, I wouldn't be able to handle the guilt of keeping it so I would claim it and donate it to Type 1 Diabetes research. My eldest daughter has T1D, and any development in its treatment that will make her future better is a good thing.
However, suppose a lottery ticket that I bought won $10M. In that case, I think it would accelerate my stepping out of the corporate world and free me to spend more time working with people and companies on Diversity & Inclusion. This is something that I have done for several years and is something that I am very passionate about.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I like to run and where we live there is a lovely forest with great running routes that I try and utilise a few times a week. During COVID, my wife and I have regular walks there as well. We have 3 daughters (8, 10 & 13 yrs old) and I introduced the eldest two to golf last year, so I am looking forward to spending time with them on the golf course this year.
We also live in a wine-producing part of Czech Republic (South Moravia), so a bottle of wine is never too far away ;-)
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
Technology should not be a privilege and should be democratised for everyone. Children's ability to receive a proper education should not be compromised by access or affordability of technology. This has become so apparent as COVID has moved education from the classroom to the living room.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
2 Podcasts that are essential listening for me are "Trailblazers with Walter Isaacson" and "The David McWilliams Podcast".
I read a lot of books, so I tend to suffer from recency bias but for any music lover out there "Hell is round the corner" by Tricky is a fabulous read.
How should people connect with you?
You can connect with me via LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephen-caulfield-30a943/.
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