Tuesday, October 31, 2006

So .... where do YOU want to work today?

One of my esteemed colleagues pointed me to an article in Computerworld this week which gleefully describes that Microsoft is currently seeking to hire about 50 people in Australia and New Zealand (and then goes on to describe how they go about this, who they are looking for and at what stage in the process the chip is inserted into the brain…. ). On reading this I couldn’t help but draw comparisons with the work that we are doing at Hyro on team building and growth.

Right now at Hyro, we have about 25 positions available across our Australian operations in a wide variety of roles. All of these positions are there for reasons of growth, both current and future – as we have said a few times in the market announcements we have made, most of our clients are buying more of our digital services offerings and our reputation is bringing more clients. A great position to be in.

I do think that it is interesting that a little (albeit ASX Listed) company of 150 people in Australia and New Zealand and 250 people world wide, is recruiting half as many people in our market as the biggest software company in the world!

In looking at the comparisons between Hyro and Microsoft, there are many similarities – we are also pretty strict about “who gets in,” how we test for skills, etc – but there are some big differences (as far as I can tell from this article). I think the biggest of these differences is in the basis of the relationship between Hyro and the team, something which we are very focussed on and constantly work at to improve.

As I constantly point out, in order to attract, retain and develop the very best team we can (this is an important part of our promise to our clients) we can’t think of our relationship with our people in terms of the old “master/servant” relationship. Today, every single one of our team is a highly skilled, highly employable, capable professional and we MUST consider ourselves to be COMPETING for the privilege of having those people build their careers in our company.

So what will make them work for Hyro instead of working somewhere else? Well, here is my 5 minute checklist (in no particular order):

  • Quality of the Work – everybody wants to work on projects and with clients that are innovative, challenging and interesting. Hyro has worked hard to be at the forefront of the constantly evolving, exciting and (dare I say it) sexy world of the Digital Services industry (and we aren’t finished yet) and so the people who are in our team and join our team can be assured that they will to work on some interesting and transformational projects.
  • Quality of the Team – it is only natural that team members expect to work with others of equal or higher skill and experience as themselves. People want to know that when they take on complex, challenging tasks (which may have an impact on their professional reputation) that they are part of a crack team that will deliver the right results. You have to be strong in only taking on people who will add to the team and be equally strong in removing those people who don’t prove up to the standards required by the team. (Proof? This year we have increased our total headcount by 20, but have actually taken on 40 new employees)
  • Company Culture – where you work must have values that are in line with yours. We maintain some very strong values in our company – honesty, trust, teamwork, fun, commitment to be the best. If your people cannot see their values within your company, then the relationship will ultimately fracture. The team must be PROUD of where they work and the team they are a part of.
  • Reward – this is not just about salary. The people today all want to earn an income and build value and so expect to see that their relationship with their employer will provide a mechanism to create wealth. This is a huge advantage of being a listed company as we can offer equity participation schemes which are real – they are based on equity in a publicly listed company, so it can be delivered, valued, traded. (Proof? We have some people in the company who were invited into our Employee Performance Options Program when the share price was 6 cents and now, less than a year later, it is around 20 cents – a result of the hard work of the whole team. It is only right that those who were a part of building the success have an opportunity to share in it).
  • Flexibility – this is the toughest one for many big companies. In this day and age, many people do not live to work and you need to be able to accommodate the fact that priorities are different and may change from time to time. The differences required range from people with different work patterns (some people AREN’T “Morning People” and so want to work from 10.00 am) or need to work four days a week. The relationship between employer and employee must be a partnership and that implies a mutual obligation which must be respected. (Proof? We are implementing a new program called the Hyro Lifestyle Employment Scheme which, in part, provides a framework for this flexibility.)

I know that in writing this particular blog, I have started to chip at the tip of the iceberg (are there any of those left any more?) and it is hard to say in 600 words what has been, and will continue to be, one of the most complex areas of managing a business today – this is for those experienced and important HR professionals out there. What I can say (and here I am being repetitive again) is that you MUST think DIFFERENTLY about the relationship you have with your people .... particularly if you expect those people to go out there and change the world.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Fried Frogs and Chunky Monkey Muggings....

I am currently making one of my Quarterly Review trips to Hyro Thailand and have had few experiences this trip which will I am sure I will remember. I don't usually get a lot of time on these trips and am usually in and out within a week, but this time I have had a couple of diversions from the usual business focus.

Last Thursday I had the arduous task of entertaining some important business contacts at the Thai Country Club, a VERY nice golf course about 45 minutes out of central Bangkok, soon to host the Volvo Masters (Tiger Woods has a permanent locker at the course .... I wonder what he keeps in there).

After a less than impressive round (I did manage to shoot three pars in street shoes with borrowed clubs about 2 inches too short for me) it was back to the club house for "refreshments" and discussion. While the talk soon turned to business opportunities in Thailand and near shore markets, some food was ordered and I enjoyed some of the nicest "quail" I have had for a long time .... apparently this was better described as "pond quail" and I found out after about my fourth mini-drumstick that I had just experienced my first fried frogs leg.... and it was pretty good.

The second experience was that one of my colleagues celebrated her wedding on the weekend, a wonderful event held at the family home in the nearby town of Petchburi (about 120 Kms South West of Bangkok). Although the event started at 6.30 am with a parade to take the groom from the local temple to the family home (which meant a 4.00 am start from Bangkok!) it was a lovely day with a great combination of involvement of family and friends in the celebration and formal ceremonies to complete the marriage. It was a privilege and a pleasure to be invited.

On the drive back, we made a detour to the Khao Ban Dai It Temple just outside of Petchburi. This is the smaller of a couple of temples which have been built into limestone caves and they are just beautiful. The pinpoints of light coming through holes in the ceiling to strike gold covered Buddha statues have a very regal and stirring effect.. these are special places of very high importance to the people.

One of the more interesting features of this temple is that the resident Monks have taken to caring for the local monkeys. Visitors are "encouraged" to buy food for the monkeys from the temple nuns ... a little money spinner to keep the temple running no doubt. Trouble is that food for the monkeys is served in the same white plastic bags as any food for people and my friends Alice and Justin decided to grab a mid-morning snack of cooked bananas from the nuns. It only took about five minutes before Alice came under the watchful eye of the fattest, nastiest looking monkey in the temple - apparently he knew about fried banana and knew that it was good and in a move of which any action hero would be jealous, he staged a guerilla strike and tore the bag from Alice's hand .... a full blown Monkey Mugging which brought a smile to the faces of a couple of nearby monks and which, no doubt, has developed a new phobia for Alice.

So what are the "insights" from all of this .... well, the first is that the "coup" here in Thailand a little over a month ago has had little effect on the people and commerce of Thailand. All signs of business and day to day life are back to normal and some may say a little more positive.... Thailand is moving ahead.

The second is that when you get to Thailand, make an effort to get out of Bangkok ... there is so much to see. This is an old country with a lot of history and many things you won't see in other places From the pleasure of driving through the rice paddies on either side, to seeing some of the temples, beaches, mountains and more, to the sport and adventure of braving Bangkok traffic on the way back into town, you will really enjoy the experience.

Now .... more work to be done ... since we are still changing the world.

Friday, October 13, 2006


I love this digital services industry ….. in the time that it has taken for most major corporations to get through a “strategic planning cycle” we have seen a new company be born, one of the worlds top entertainment destinations created and the business then sold for US$1.65 billion (that’s A$2.215 billion at today’s exchange rate). Of course, I am talking about You Tube – a site which relies on mankind’s voyeuristic inclination – and clearly MILLIONS of people want to either view or be viewed.

This thing is a juggernaut of consumer generated (and sometimes consumer purloined) content. Everywhere I look for information about the growth, use and take up of You Tube, the story is the same. Our friends at Neilsen/Netratings have reported that traffic to You Tube grew by 297% in the first half of 2006. In the WEEK of 16th July 2006, more than 12,000,000 people visited the site and stayed on average 28 minutes (up from 17 minutes a visit six months prior) and page views are through the roof. These people (20% more likely to be men) are visiting more often, spending more time and viewing much more content. The ability to “build your own entertainment” is a very strong proposition for consumers and the You Tube story shows this to be the case.

So what doe this deal mean? It means that Google has pulled another coup (like MySpace). You can spend a lot of time analysing the complex valuation dynamics of the estimated net present value of the future income streams based on a wide range of variables… or you can just “get it” – GOOGLE GOES WHERE THE EYEBALLS ARE.

In simple terms, YouTube is one of the internet’s most visited sites, and so is MySpace and so is Google – I tried to quickly find some reliable stats for October, but the traffic to these three sites (including their mail services) now seems to be over 10% of all internet traffic. That is a LOT of eyeballs!

Even more interesting is the flow of traffic between these sites. MySpace is YouTube’s most important source for traffic, with internet traffic monitor Hitwise reporting that MySpace has accounted for 16.2% of YouTube’s upstream traffic. Given that Google has just prepaid US$900m for search advertising on MySpace, that is traffic that Google would have been happier to see stay on MySpace. Google has bought more of this “traffic loop” giving them more penetration into the flow of internet traffic.

Finally, You Tube has been killing Google Video in the video search stakes – the graph at left from our friends at Hitwise highlights by just how much. Given that we all expect to see some big increases in video search as bandwith increases and rich media devices become more prolific, this investment gives them an amazing head start in this race.

IMAGE SOURCE: Hitwise Pty Limited - http://weblogs.hitwise.com/leeann-prescott/2006/10/google_youtube_rumor_-_hitwise.html

I love this stuff... because we are changing the world!

Monday, October 09, 2006

More MMAgic......

WE WON!!!!!


Thanks to our clients for their support and the team for doing a great job.!!