At the beginning of 2021, the rebrand and repositioning of Vapour marked a significant turning point in the nearly nine-year journey of our company. Fast forward to 2022, and the investment is still proving to be as crucial as ever in helping us dominate the conversation in a crowded sector.

But for head of transformation, Carol McGrotty, it’s people that play the most crucial role in branding transformation success. In an exclusive webinar hosted by legal professionals, Mills & Reeve, on February 9th, she delved deeper into driving innovation at Vapour through brand and highlighted the importance of employee buy-in…

Although the decision to embark on a digital transformation project can be driven by a whole host of challenges – from rapid growth and emergence into new sectors, to a pivotal change in business perspective – it’s often the people behind the organisation who act as a catalyst for change. Only by undertaking an honest review of a brand’s current positioning and identifying a need for transformation, can real evolution take place – innovating just for innovation’s sake will not only burn a hole in your time and resources, but it will also result in a ‘paint job’ finish that makes no commercial and/or cultural difference.

For Vapour – and any other business – this is no overnight process. Prepare well and give the project the time and attention it deserves – rather than treating it as a sideline objective – and company leaders will soon reap the benefits of streamlined operations, enhanced company culture and improved bottom line. For Vapour’s own strategic roll out, we devised a ‘365-day plan’ which was broken down into three smaller, more manageable stages, to enable us to analyse every facet of the brand’s evolution and maintain momentum from start to finish.

Customers also play a pivotal role in driving transformation, particularly when it comes to such jargon-filled, technical industries. Not only did we want our rebrand to demystify cloud technology and restore that ‘human touch’ we set out with, we also wanted our reputation to extend beyond our ‘toolkit’ to showcase our team, and help attract and retain the best talent. Therefore, gathering insight from our colleagues and customers on wider perceptions of Vapour was an essential part of the process – unveiling a concerted recognition of passion and talent, while addressing an apparent confusion over visual branding and restrictive product names. Putting the customer at the forefront of our ambitions meant we could also preserve the longevity of our digital transformation and bolster our sense of authenticity by giving them a stake in mapping out our future.

But a considered approach to driving innovation doesn’t just involve the rigour of senior level employees and customer insight – every colleague with a passion for the idea is able to tell the story upon launch. Think of them as your business’ most important ambassadors, and encourage them not only to embrace this new chapter, but to openly share their ideas to help spearhead further innovation. To hear more of Carol’s expert advice, and to catch up on commentary from other industry peers, watch the webinar in full, here.

Vapour’s head of transformation and operations, Carol McGrotty, will take to the ‘virtual stage’ next month, when she participates in a straight-talking webinar about the topic of brand in tech.

Organised by the team at legal specialist Mills & Reeve, the sixty-minute online event seeks to delve into the fundamentals of building a successful brand and protecting it – not least to mitigate the risks of imitation.

With over 20 years’ experience in the tech industry, Carol will share her own perspective on the rebrand of Vapour – which not only gave the company a fresh visual identity, but further served as a mechanism to completely reposition the brand in a crowded space – and speak on the role of authenticity in personal branding.

Also joining Carol on the webinar will be Lesley Gulliver, managing director at The Engine Room – the strategic brand consultancy responsible for taking Vapour on this journey last year.

Head of intellectual property litigation at Mills & Reeve, Claire O’Brien, completes the line-up of panellists. She will share her expertise on intangible business assets, as well as how to safeguard them to protect long-term viability and set your organisation apart from competitors.

Commenting on the opportunity to be involved in the webinar, Carol said: “There are so many difficulties for women trying to emerge into the tech industry – I think it’s crucial to offer guidance and be unapologetically visible to show that it doesn’t have to be male-dominated. Breaking past the struggle of ‘imposter syndrome’ can be a challenge, but owning your expertise is just the first step to enhancing your personal brand and differentiating you from the crowd.”

To register for this free webinar, taking place on Wednesday 9th February at 10am, sign up here.

Embarking on a digital transformation project can be exciting for many organisations – especially when customers, prospects, employees, and wider stakeholders feel the changes in a positive way. However, if the motivation to undergo a programme is purely for vanity or because a competitor is doing the same thing, it’s likely to fall flat.

That’s because innovation isn’t simply a case of rolling out a new product or service without substance or thought. Instead it’s about adding value, as our head of transformation, Carol McGrotty, recently discussed with Top Business Tech magazine…

The term ‘digital transformation’ is nothing new in the business world, and yet there are still misconceptions about what it truly means. Today, colleagues will be sat in their respective boardrooms thinking of ways to ‘freshen things up’ which is an exciting prospect in many instances – as long as they’re doing it for the right reasons.

Yes, organisations must continuously reinvent themselves to remain relevant. However, the answer isn’t always to roll out a transformation project without a plan, objectives or KPIs. Companies that do go down this route will often see their poorly executed project come up against various hurdles which could potentially result in damaging brand loyalty.

Transformation should therefore centre on driving business growth, streamlining operations or inspiring innovation. It must be delivered on the back of an effective solution that fixes a problem that individuals have been experiencing – whether customers, employees, or wider stakeholders.

And the truth is, while the end goal is vital when determining how a project has fared, the most important stage often revolves around the question of, ‘how does this plan add value?’ To get to this point, there are even more queries to consider, such as:

Digital transformation doesn’t have to bust the business budget

Another misconception is the belief that to embark on a transformative program, an organisation must have a bulging bank balance. However, the good news is that to evolve processes or streamline operations, it doesn’t necessarily have to cost the earth or be a hugely revolutionary change.

For example, it could be a simple case of focusing on marginal gains – such as some simple robotic process automation – to empower a better outcome. And the work involved? Minor tweaks, but ones which will ultimately make a huge difference. Many organisations forget too that there is the option of rolling out a pilot scheme to understand reaction and provide another way to respond to feedback – both good and bad – without breaking the bank.

Empower employees to challenge the status quo

Additionally, these types of projects don’t always have to fall to the C-suite or a senior level employee with ‘technology’ in their job title. Typically, the individuals who are most passionate about the initial idea can often be the best people for the job because they believe in it, and can visualise how to bring it to fruition.

In this instance, colleagues with curiosity are critical because they are not afraid to question ‘how things have always been done’ – as long as they can provide a viable solution to make things smoother, swifter, and slicker.

Creating an environment where every individual’s voice is heard – and which embraces innovation – is more likely to inspire ‘lightbulb’ moments from various members of the team, and hopefully provide the innovation that’s required to help reinvent the company’s offering based on substance and value.

Not every project will go smoothly

Finally, an important point to stress is that there are likely to be bumps in the road during any transformation project. Therefore, it’s vital all scenarios are prepared for well in advance, and employees know the role they play – whether faced with Plan A, B or C. Responding positively to hurdles, even when they may appear difficult at first, can be the difference between a programme stalling or flourishing despite those initial setbacks.

Overall, a transformation project must add value. The idea in the first place should be less about vanity and more about a need that has presented itself – whether based on customer feedback or an employee simply asking the question ‘why do it like that when this way is quicker, slicker or smarter?’

Superficial plans that are created purely to go head-to-head with a competitor may still gain some traction and attract customers and prospects. However, if an organisation wants to transform an existing product, service, process or operation to generate brand loyalty, develop company culture and result in a positive bottom line impact in the longer term, a project of this type should always come back to value.

A recent Tech Nation report exploring the topic of diversity revealed that 77% of UK tech director roles were filled by men, and only 19% of the workforce are women.

There’s no doubt there’s still more that needs to be done when it comes to encouraging a fairer gender split throughout the digital landscape.

It’s a subject that’s close to our hearts too and one championed by Vapour’s head of transformation Carol McGrotty. Selected for WeAreTechWomen’s ‘Inspirational Tech Advocate’ Q&A, she discusses how we can all take responsibility for being more inclusive, and why you don’t necessarily have to have a specific degree to be successful in the tech sector.

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

As head of transformation for disruptive cloud tech firm Vapour, I’m responsible for looking at the business at a higher level and piecing together all our departments to achieve true company growth.

The business is almost eight-years-old now and I’ve been here since just after its inception. I’m process-driven and people-orientated, so I’m passionate about making sure we keep playing to our strengths, exploring what we can do even better, and getting our culture and values right so we can drive forward collaboratively.

2. Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Definitely not! I originally wanted to be a midwife when I left school. Thankfully, I can look back and say things have really worked out for me and I’m proud of the role I play now.

I’ve spent 20 years in the telecoms tech sector and once I was learning the trade, I soon felt like I was contributing to something. In terms of Vapour, I could see its vision when I joined, and I wanted to make my mark and build an exciting career for myself with a progressive company.

3. Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

It’s probably more of a personal one, but I can be quite harsh on myself. For example, I can make ten decisions in a day, nine of which are successful but for that one that perhaps didn’t go quite according to plan, I’ll dwell on it. I have to tell myself that nobody has all the answers, and as long as my decision was considered and well-intended, I can learn from it.

4. What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Moving from operations manager to head of operations and compliance was a defining moment. It was a huge shift in mindset because I was responsible for an entire department. It also led to one of my biggest successes to date – completing a scale up programme, in association with Barclays Bank and Cambridge Judge Business School, alongside Vapour CEO Tim Mercer and sales manager, Alec Stephens.

5. What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Finding a role that’s not ‘just a job’ and instead something I can add value to. I’m a big advocate for taking on a role that feels ‘right’ and being part of a company that shares the same vision, and invests in its employees. Thankfully, that’s what I’ve got with Vapour. 

6. What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Technology is forever changing so it’s important to be agile to stay ahead of the curve and provide customers with the support they need – which constantly evolves. Having a flexible approach when offering solutions is so important in this sector, alongside not being afraid to take on fresh challenges and being calm under pressure.

7. Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

I do feel there are obstacles. Fortunately, I’ve never felt this but I’m well aware that females in our sector have experienced difficulties when it comes to breaking through. The numbers speak for themselves in terms of how many men are in technology compared to women, so this has to change.

When it comes to career guidance, are girls provided with the information they need to truly engage with the prospect of enjoying a career in tech? We have a responsibility to support this via jargon-free explanations as to what it means to work in digital, underline the vast benefits and really get across the impact that employees make. 

8. What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

Exploring apprenticeships or accelerator programmes could be great places to start for companies. We also offer job visits to try and spark interest in people progressing a career in technology.

It’s about providing ways to help attract a wider talent pool and that’s where culture comes into play. If an organisation is committed to building an environment that’s forward-thinking and inclusive, it’s more likely to get a greater level of diverse applicants when its next job vacancy comes around.

9. There is currently only 15% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Role models and strong influences that young girls and women can look up to are so vital. We’re seeing more females on boards and in director roles now which will definitely help. It needs to continue though, and we all have a part to play in this.

10. What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, e.g. podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

Well, of course WeAreTechWomen’s resources are fantastic! I’d also recommend Disruptive.Live for in-depth interviews and Technology Reseller is a really engaging publication. Let’s not forget the ‘Between the Eyes’ podcast either that’s hosted by Tim [Mercer]. He invites guests to talk on his show about everything from business development to wellbeing.

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