When Jeff Dewing founded Cloudfm in 2011, his vision was clear: to champion, and demonstrate, transparency, quality and value.
The approach has gone on to earn the Colchester based firm the trust of an impressive client base, and, in 2019, became the first facilities management firm to win a Queen's Award for Innovation.
But raising the bar is always a challenge. Jeff recognised that he would need to develop his leadership style and clarify his business strategy to meet his ambitious goals.
So in 2018 Jeff became a member of Vistage, enlisted the help of a mentor and he hasn't looked back.
Developing creative solutions to business process challenges
With support from Vistage, Cloudfm was able to get clarity on their business growth, look objectively at projections for 2026 and 2027 and make sure their plans for the future were fit for purpose - including changes to its working environment.
Jeff explains: “One of the Vistage statements we quickly adopted was to ‘begin with the end in mind’. We’ve analysed what the future might look like and are now accelerating our technology to suit a whole new workplace culture based on remote working. We believe that the company owning a building is ‘so last year’ so we’ve been looking at more collaborative working environments.”
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Vistage helped Cloudfm look beyond their traditional business processes and behaviours and identify working environments that encourage people to be their best selves at work. As well as supporting remote working, Cloudfm is now building a new office space where departments are mixed in with one another, encouraging employees to think creatively and collaboratively.
The company is also adopting better processes to support sustainability throughout the business. Its first focus will be making their building super-efficient and for that process to be as streamlined and straightforward as possible. Jeff says, “Our next leap is into producing Smart buildings in a way that nobody has done before. Lots of people do a bit on energy, a bit on water management. No one has closed the whole loop before. That’s the journey we’re on.”
Jeff and his team are able to share these plans and learnings with the Vistage group so that everyone benefits from the experience and can incorporate ideas and initiatives into their own operations.
Promoting a happy workplace
Cloudfm is proud to promote a healthy, happy working environment and good people management is integral to this ethos. Jeff explains: “One thing I picked up from Vistage very early on is if you want to be the best manager you can be, you have to understand what is going on in the lives of your staff. If you don’t know the important stuff about them, how can you manage them? The whole ‘leave your problems at the door’ is outdated nonsense. You need to take an interest in your team’s lives - understand what difficulties they might be facing at home, and how to offer support.”
Creating a positive workplace with outstanding leadership
As an experienced business leader, Jeff was initially sceptical about how much the Vistage Leadership Program could help him. He was happy to be proved wrong. Jeff says, “After months three or four my world started to change - materially - and I don’t say that lightly. It’s about leadership, not authority, creating an environment where people want to go in your direction. A leader's job is to remove all the barriers from the staff and make sure they’re becoming their best self.”
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Jeff attributes much of the success of his involvement with Vistage to the 1-to-1 sessions with his mentor Kevin Johnson: “It’s a very confidential environment. You can share stuff you can’t share elsewhere. Yet I never get straightforward advice or answers. I was asked incredible questions that prompted deep self-reflection. That’s what leadership is about. Helping people find their answers. There’s no fear in asking the sensitive questions. If you get to the point of trust you stop becoming defensive - that’s how you become stronger.”
An innovative approach to business brings rewards to Cloudfm
Historically Cloudfm has shied away from entering awards, preferring to take a step back from the spotlight and allow newer players in the industry to be recognised and to grow. This all changed when they found out they had been nominated for the Queen's Award for Innovation, one of the UK’s biggest business accolades. Cloudfm is the only facilities management company to ever win the Innovation Award.
- Watch Jeff Dewing talk about his experience of Vistage here!
Cloudfm’s team is truly committed to delivering the best possible service to all its customers. With support from Vistage the company has been able to gain clarity on its business processes and goals and ensure its teams are supported - all underpinned by a long-term business growth strategy that is robust and future-ready. Says Jeff. “The most positive thing about Vistage is that you are helped to step outside the daily cut and thrust of business, and see your challenges and opportunities from an entirely new perspective. Not only is this inspiring, it results in genuine innovation and progression for your business.”
Sustainability image via Unsplash