Client Case Study

Rob Hayward & Saragossa

We asked long-time Saragossa friend Rob Hayward, CTO of Eight Roads, to discuss his ten-year working partnership with Saragossa.

A partnership with Rob Hayward

Questions and Answers with Rob Hayward

Can you give us a brief overview of your relationship with Saragossa?

As we have grown in our relationship and Saragossa has transformed as a business, they have become a key growth partner for us.

Our relationship has been building over the last ten years. The introduction of their Component product has enabled us to grow and push our company out into different spaces across the world.

In my previous roles around the US, China and Japan I found it difficult to find a trusted partner that I could rely on. You have to travel; you have to take the time to build relationships, but Saragossa worked it all out for me. I pushed Saragossa to hire in these different regions. They did that very quickly, and we could spin up operations either in an outsourced capacity or a permanent capacity very fast.

How has Saragossa helped to resource projects?

There are varying requirements as you build larger teams. There are always challenges around finding skill sets to stay on the cutting edge of technology within a permanent team role. We’ve been able to tackle that issue using Component to upskill and upscale certain consultants within the business to complete initiatives over 6 – 12 months with the luxury of being able to off-board them quickly with no commitment. That’s been a great help in terms of looking at some of the more specialist technology that we’re using without having to employ permanent people that are expensive.

How has the level of trust developed?

There is always a trust element in these initiatives and relationships – that’s why I go to Saragossa. I’ve known Rory [Rory Gaston, Saragossa Director] for 10+ years now, so there’s already trust and history – we’ve successfully run projects together before.

Having that direct relationship gives you a very personable experience. There’s a real family feel to the business, and I like having direct contact with senior people. I’ve always used smaller firms. I think it breeds better work, and there’s more attention to detail. If there’s a problem, Saragossa will deal with it.

Trust builds confidence within the business as well. Saragossa helps me be very agile in scaling projects and scaling headcount quickly, but then what management wants to hear is that you can get rid of the headcount quite quickly so that it’s not on the books.

How do new projects tend to start?

I think new projects start with a sounding board. It is a case of getting the right people on the phone, which Rory is very good at, and sounding out an initiative. Where do we need to go with this? Who are the right people? And I think that works both in the Component aspect of scoping out a project and from the perspective of hiring new people. I never go into Saragossa and say, “Find me this person,” I say, “These are the desired outcomes of this role. Find me a CV and show me what I need.” And I think that’s been beneficial for all of the hiring we’ve done.

Psychology is an excellent term for it. What’s helped in terms of my onboarding with Saragossa is that I can quickly get access to candidates that will mould well with my teams.

What’s working with Saragossa like?

Saragossa is like a graceful swan. A lot is going on underneath, but you don’t notice it. The value is getting those two or three critical CV’s with the personalities you like and the experience you’re after and then being able to engage with those candidates.

You need to outsource that kind of effort because doing it in-house is very time-consuming – building bios, sourcing candidates, interviewing and so on. Saragossa help with all of that and they do it well.

Could you describe your experience of using our Component product?

With Component Saragossa have diversified into the Consultancy industry. I think that’s only going to help us. The general resourcing models within technology departments have changed over the past few years. It’s moving more and more towards an SME approach – building lean teams.I believe that as IT departments become a thing of the past, Saragossa can add value in terms of scaling up IT departments within businesses and then scaling them back down again when initiatives have finished.

I’m a very outcome-focused leader. I start at the top of the triangle. Component has been vital in helping me define outcomes because it’s always quite challenging to align these outcomes with the vision of the business. So it’s been advantageous to have the Component there. We can bring in a technical contact to define the objectives and outcomes. So you’re not only building out requirements, but you’re also bringing in a business analyst who can think about translating the business requirements into technical requirements. We’ve seen some very, very aligned methodologies in determining the project and then onboarding the right resource very quickly to help us achieve those objectives.

How does Saragossa look after candidates?

When we’re extending out a role through Saragossa, we are putting our trust in Saragossa to represent us properly. Rory is very good at bringing his background knowledge into the conversations when working on significant positions. He’ll give me pointers around areas I should be thinking about and researching.

I know that candidates are going to be given the correct facts and figures around the firm and industry – they’ll be fully prepped. That comes from Rory and Jimmy’s passion for the industry they’re working in.

How does Saragossa enhance your business practice and culture?

I think that what Saragossa brings to the businesses I work with is a sustained culture. I have a particular personality and culture that I like to work within and enjoy. Rory and Saragossa understand that and bring similar characters to the business to enable us to carry that culture on.

Finance and VC, and PE is Saragossa’s bread and butter. They understand the personalities and challenges that technology has in these types of businesses, so they add a lot of value. They’re there to assist and help, but they’re not trying to put their foot in the door and upsell anything.

I can trust Rory to come into the business and speak to some of the management, which is key. When I’m working closely with a firm that is bringing people into the business, I feel they need to come in and explain their role, so that’s a value add.

The relationship has undoubtedly benefitted and driven internal decision making. Rory probably knows me better than I do about who I’m looking for in a candidate. I can have a very confused conversation with Rory with very vague requirements, and Rory will say, “What you need is A, B and C – I’ll come back with some CV’s.”

How useful is the 16pt appraisal to the process?

The 16pt evaluation was new to me, and I think it helps you make a better decision without wasting too much time. Saragossa can look at the requirements, speak to me and gather the mood of the role; who I am looking for? What type of personality will fit? They’ll then build those 16pts around that. So it’s quite a bespoke process – I’m getting exactly what I need without wasting my time on a call with someone who’s not suitable for the business.

How would you sum up your experience with Saragossa?

With Saragossa, it’s all about the personality they bring. You feel like you’re partnering on things. It’s a friendly business, and that’s key in this industry – there’s a lot of foes out there, so you’ve got to find the friendlies.

Trust builds confidence within the business. Saragossa helps me be very agile in scaling projects and scaling headcount rapidly, but then what management wants to hear is that you can get rid of the headcount quite quickly again at project end.

Rob Hayward. CTO, Eight Roads.

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