‘We are now seeing a real momentum behind digital transformation’

28 Apr 2020

Graham Healy. Image: Avanade

Graham Healy of Avanade Ireland discusses the technology services market, hiring a diverse workforce, and keeping track of his diary.

Graham Healy is country manager for Avanade in Ireland, a role he took on in 2018 when the business established operations here. Avanade is a joint venture between Microsoft and Accenture that delivers digital, IT and advisory services to clients all over the world.

Prior to this, Healy was a managing director in Accenture’s European Health and Public Service practice. He is also on the board of SFI’s Insight Centre for Data Analytics and a member of the Business Information Systems advisory board in University College Cork.

‘Digital transformation is something that a lot of companies have talked about for many years, but the pace has been inconsistent’

Describe your role and what you do.

As country manager, I am responsible for the end-to-end business of Avanade in Ireland. This involves all sales and marketing, client and people satisfaction, revenue and profitability. Additionally, my role involves developing and executing Avanade’s business strategy, providing management oversight for Avanade’s operations and providing people leadership and talent development in Ireland.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

This is something I continually struggle with, as most people do. I plan the week ahead with a set of key ‘to dos’ and prioritise my diary, with any client meetings taking precedence, followed by people-related and strategy sessions.

I have recently started booking meetings for up to 45 minutes to avoid the back-to-back hour-long sessions that can obliterate the diary. I also colour-code my calendar so that at a glance I can see how I am spending my time. I have become better at using Microsoft OneNote to take notes and write up actions.

What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?

The technology services market continues to require top talent. At Avanade, we are tackling this by continually developing our employee proposition to make us an employer of choice when it comes to people wanting to work with the Microsoft platform.

This includes things like a comprehensive training and accreditation programme, a focus on health and wellbeing initiatives, paid charity days, a technology spend budget, and our wider employee engagement initiatives.

What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?

Digital transformation is something that a lot of companies have talked about for many years, but the pace has been inconsistent. We are now seeing a real momentum behind digital transformation, with Microsoft technologies being at the heart of many enterprises’ digital workplace and journey to cloud.

We are helping our clients understand their current position and their future state, and then help them with the associated transformation journey.

What set you on the road to where you are now?

I don’t know if there was anything in particular that set me on the road to where I am now. I was fortunate to be supported by my family, guided by some wonderful stewards and I have tried to make the best of the very providential opportunities that were put in front of me.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

A few years before taking the Avanade role, I was offered a really exciting, but what I perceived risky, opportunity with a fast-scaling company. In essence, I settled for the safe option.

When the Avanade role came up for grabs, I was better prepared for the adventure!

How do you get the best out of your team?

I completed the Munster Rugby High Performance Leadership Programme, which focused on fitness, energy management, life and business balance and alignment, and authentic leadership.

One of the things it thought me was about my own leadership style and how that can impact others. I have learned more to empower my team to do what they do best by learning when to lend support and when to get out of their way. 

Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector?

I think the diversity problem in the sector is well documented. There are a number of really good initiatives in Ireland to address this challenge including the 30% Club and university Athena SWAN accreditations.

In Avanade, we have concentrated on improving diversity and now over 22pc of our workforce are women, while our overall percentage of female hires this financial year has risen to 44pc. This has been through focus on recruitment, apprenticeships, role models, market initiatives and measurement. I have outlined these in this article: ‘Designing a better and more balanced future.’

Another form of diversity is cultural. In Avanade Ireland, we already have 25 different nationalities represented.

Did you ever have a mentor or someone who was pivotal in your career?

I can think of a number that come to mind that were pivotal throughout my life. This started with my sixth-class teacher in primary school and then one of my secondary school teachers, followed by the head professor in university. They were instrumental in guiding my decision making, pushing me to do more and challenging me at the appropriate times.

Since then, I have had a few people during my career, each of whom have and continue to mentor me in different ways, such as looking at the bigger picture and not sweating the small stuff.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

I like reading many different genres. I like real-life stories that read like novels, such as Barbarians at the Gate [by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar]. I am also fascinated by Malcolm Gladwell, who is both insightful and a good storyteller. My favourite book is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

In terms of business-related books, most recently I have read Legacy by James Kerr. It looks at what makes the All Blacks so successful and how to apply what he learned in business.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

Given that we are 100pc focused on the Microsoft platform, I tend spend a lot of time using the full Microsoft suite. I use Microsoft Teams for collaboration. I use Microsoft Dynamics for CRM. For reporting, forecasting and analytics, we run everything from Power BI.

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