Dean Forbes tells us why you need take accountability and responsibility for everything that happens to you in your life, not just in business.
What do you currently do?
I’m CEO of CoreHR and I’m a business transformation leader. In 2017 I was engaged by the company’s founders and investors to turn the then loss making human resources software business back to profit and to accelerate growth.
The company offers what’s now considered to be one of the top software suites in the field of HR management. Thanks to a great team here and our amazing customer base and partners, this once floundering business is now growing rapidly. We’re expanding across Europe and the company is back in profit.
Through my leadership and with the support of a superb management team, everyone at CoreHR now feels they own a part in the company’s future and is clear about their own role within it. It’s a real buzz here now, everyday.
What is the inspiration behind your career in business?
My early life was difficult. Escaping that and building a new life for me and my family was my underlying incentive for building a business career. From 15-17, my family and I were homeless. I was carer to my disabled mum at the time and we lived in and out of hostels and shelters in South East London. Things could have taken a bad turn. But I was great at football. I was signed by Crystal Palace! But this didn’t really work out.
My agent then found me a job in the IT industry. It was hard graft, but I was determined. I have a winning mentality and climbed the leadership ladder. In my late twenties, I led the international growth of US software firm Primavera and was instrumental in its sale to Oracle.
In my early thirties, in my first CEO role, I led the transformation of KDS, a travel and expense management software company. We sold it to American Express in the largest technology deal Amex had ever closed at the time. And now of course, I’m leading CoreHR.
What defines your way of doing business?
I lead by setting clear objectives and by inspiring everyone to deliver against them. Arriving in a new business with the goal of fixing it, I’ll always assess its true situation by first looking at its key performance indicators and talking to everyone I can: not just management, but to staff, customers and partners…everyone.
Within 90 days, I will have defined and announced a clear plan for change, targeting management, product, commercial activities and addressing any cultural issues the company might be facing. It’s my experience that this plan sets the course for the following two to three years.
I’d also say that I’m a great believer in people being the core asset of any business and a positive culture is absolutely essential to changing a company’s tack and steering for new goals.
Who do you admire?
Being in the business of IT, I’d have to say Steve Jobs. He disrupted the entire industry with amazing levels of innovation and at an incredible pace. Marc Benioff is also right up there for me, as a pioneer of Cloud computing and the rise of Software as a Service. I am also a big admirer of former US President Barack Obama for his incredible civil and moral leadership.
What would you tell your younger self?
All this work you’re putting in? It’s going to be worth it. Take accountability and responsibility for everything that happens to you in your life. Always seek and consider other people’s views; but when you really, really know a strategic decision you’ve made is right, then you must absolutely stick to it.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your career?
Build a team around you that you can trust – and listen to them! Choose people with stamina who are loyal to you that you can always rely on. You can’t do everything on your own.
How do you continue to grow professionally?
I spend time on growing my network and learning from others who have the skills and experience I don’t have. I value very much the insight of people who have already been to where I am going.
What are you working on now?
We’ve just launched our latest CoreHR software platform. It’s aimed at business and HR leaders in people powered organisations. While many HR departments are challenged to align themselves with their board’s key business goals and to provide quantifiable ROI, our new CoreHR XD technology helps them to do just that; elevating the role and credibility of HR in the business.
The investment we’ve made in the new platform is part of a five year plan to further accelerate our growth. We’re already growing revenue at an annual rate of 32 per cent, versus market growth of 11 per cent, so we’re eating the lunch of big competitors. In my nearly three years at CoreHR, we’ve come a long way!