We asked Jim Shaw, Director of Human Resources at Softbank, to discusses his experience of Saragossa.
Softbank and Saragossa
Thanks for speaking to us Jim. Can you give us a brief overview of your relationship with Saragossa?
Saragossa has been integral in building the technology platforms that support us. We did a considerable amount of hiring in 2018 and 2019, including many people in technology. I think I’m right in saying they have provided every IT resource to date.
From my perspective, what is brilliant about Saragossa is that they’re our only provider of technology resources. That’s unique within what we do at Softbank. We may have one, two, or three key providers for every other business area, but we only use Saragossa when it comes to technology.
Having a solid relationship with everyone at Saragossa – particularly with Rory Gaston (Saragossa Director) makes my life much easier. Knowing that I can get any resource needed from one key provider is much more efficient, and there’s never been a mandate that Saragossa has failed to fulfil. I’ve just really enjoyed the combination of their innate understanding of what kind of people will work well for us, and their speed, velocity and agility.
How has the level of trust developed?
It takes time to build up trust. You don’t just jump in with one provider and say, ‘I’m happy to entrust you with all of our resourcing’. However, it quickly became apparent that the standard of candidates was great, the level of customer service was spot on, and they always understood the brief, which made it feel like a true partnership rather than a client and supplier relationship.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that some of the roles involve things like Cyber Security, which, for obvious reasons, requires real sensitivity and confidentiality. My trust in Saragossa extends to knowing that I can discuss commercially sensitive stuff because they will handle that diplomatically. That trust, integrity and judgement is key to us.
How does Saragossa influence the cultural fit at Softbank?
For us, the level of cultural fit is every bit as important as the technical skills. People talk about bringing their whole selves to work, and Saragossa does that. I think this positively influences the culture and character of the people they bring in.
Someone may know the nuts and bolts of doing the job, but if they’re not going to get along with the people in the business they’re working with, it’s just not going to work. Softbank is a fast-paced, demanding place that perhaps isn’t for everyone. I think Saragossa really grasps that.
What happens if a hire doesn’t work?
Not every single hire will work – that’s just the nature of things, but Saragossa’s hit rate has been really high. Equally, when it hasn’t worked out, we’ve been able to address that sensibly, and Saragossa has swiftly managed a replacement.
How did Saragossa’s Component Product work for you?
Over the last one or two years our business needs have changed, and that’s when we turned to Saragossa’s Component Product.
Component is where Saragossa completes a specific piece of work over a set time using their own consultants. It makes it very easy for me to go back to the execs in the business and explain that we have de-risked any potential compliance problems.
Could you explain how Saragossa has helped with Outsourcing?
When we grew to well over 400 employees, it made sense to change our model to an outsourced solution.
We could have gone with a huge firm to help us, but we’ve generally found that they come with a lack of personal service and flexibility.
What’s been great about Saragossa’s (I think unique) model is that, through them, we have retained a minimal number of on-site people in the main offices in London and Silicone Valley. For our employees based everywhere else (UK, US, Tokyo, China, Hong Kong, or wherever), there is now an outsourced Level 1 service desk solution in Argentina.
What also worked very well was that Saragossa was able to engage with us on that basis without having to go through an enormous amount of administration and bureaucracy. End to end, we put this solution in place in far less than a year. I can’t imagine that any other provider would have been able to move at that speed to set up a brand-new service desk from scratch in South America.
How has the personal relationship you have with Rory Gaston (Saragossa Director) helped with project scoping?
From my perspective, one thing that makes things really easy is my strong relationship with Rory. I’m really busy, so it’s super helpful having a key partner that I can speak to and strategise with around upcoming challenges and changes.
Rory is a great ambassador for Saragossa. He’s highly professional and has earned a high level of trust and respect within the organisation. I’ve got every confidence when bringing him to meetings with our CHRO, COO, Head of Technology, and others. He’s also quite a character with a great sense of humour, and that, for me, makes the difference between a dry client/vendor relationship compared to what we have – a partnership.
How do you imagine the relationship with Saragossa developing?
Softbank’s strategies can change quite a lot. In the future, we may go into different regions or businesses – which Saragossa has a track record in supporting us with, so I think that will continue and strengthen.
It’s been a wholly positive experience. They’re engaging, witty, professional people, and it’s always nice in business to have some fun as well as get the job done. On a simple level, they make our lives easier, which is fantastic when we’ve got a challenging job. The ability to truly partner with somebody and have complete faith that they will get everything done is pretty rare and, I think, unique.