- "We just have to make this country better than good, we have to be the best and for that to happen we need to invest and business needs a stable landscape for that to happen"
- Foreign exchange volatility born of hysteria
- Vote for Trump and Brexit = a vote for change, progress and control
Article 50 is becoming delayed because of pessimism in this country, that’s according to the CEO and co-founder of software firm Elephants don’t forget, Adrian Harvey.
“The biggest threat to UK PLC right now is doom-mongering,” says Harvey. “I know people can talk themselves in to being unwell let’s not talk the UK into years of sickness!”
An ex-MD of British Gas and Eon, Harvey is used to problem-solving.
His latest venture at Elephants don’t forget deploys an Artificially Intelligent app that ensures all the valuable training employees receive is not simply forgotten, but learned and retained.
He says, “We are a business grounded in psychology and there is lots of evidence that demonstrates that state of mind effects performance. Go hit a golf ball telling yourself, “I’m rubbish at golf and should have stayed at home” and see how often that mindset makes you end up in the bunker or pond! If everyone decides to cry into their beer and nobody invests any more then that is the worst case scenario for Britain.”
But as the rumblings around Article 50 and the kind of Brexit the UK could be heading for drags on, businesses in the UK remain cautious.
This is something Harvey wishes could be avoided. “I grew up in a recession, I know what it’s like to borrow money at 24% and that’s not something that I’d like to go through again,” he says.
“There is an interesting parallel between Brexit and our business” says Harvey. “The biggest challenge Elephants don’t forget face is management and leadership accepting that employees have failed to learn much of what they have been trained and thus cannot perform optimally. Whereas the biggest challenge Brexit faces in 2017 is people not accepting the referendum decision. Fortunately, many of our clients HAVE accepted this outcome and are moving forward. It’s the only way to be.”
Harvey’s ‘get on with it’ attitude is certainly catching. His business, 4-years old in March, is doubling in size year on year as large corporations look to get more value and demonstrable ROI from their training budgets. Lately, he’s been looking at ways to roll out the business across America and a recent trip to Dallas proved that the US may also have a lot more in common with the issues currently facing Britain.
Harvey explains, “In Dallas last week I met a guy who said, “Did you vote for Brexit?” I said “Yes, did you vote for Trump?” he said, “Yes. I can tell we’re going to do great business together because we both voted for change, progress, and control. And that’s how they see it over there.”
Foreign Exchange Volatility Born of Hysteria
With expansion into America on the cards you might expect recent currency fluctuations to become worrying, but not for Harvey. He says, “I spent a decade working in banking, I know about hedging. Whether rates are high or low are simply facts of life which business will deal with when these are known quantities. But what is needed is economic stability. I simply cannot predict the hysteria surrounding Brexit that is currently swinging the currency pendulum back and forth.”
It’s a view that he would offer Theresa May and her government. He says, “I want to hear certainty, I don’t want them discussing their negotiation strategy on the BBC I want the government to get on and act to execute the will of the people as quickly as possible.”
As for that famous leaked paperwork showing the words ‘Have cake and eat it’ when it came to negotiations, Harvey is in agreement. “Why not?” he says. “Haven’t we always had our cake and ate it? We’re British! You show me a country in Europe that doesn’t want to have their cake and eat it.”
With international expansion underway over the next two years, Harvey is keen to get the best team he can to take Clever Nelly forward, and he’s not just looking at UK talent. “We have an office based in Ireland and I’ve recently taken on a Polish recruit. Why would Brexit put me off doing that? I want people coming to work for us because it represents the best economic choice for them and their family. I want them to choose to come here to work and progress, not because it is a soft option with the best benefits in Europe.”
Although positive about Brexit, Harvey is under no illusion that it will have an impact on his business. He says, “We’re a software firm so there is a certain element of resilience built in to the business model but what we’ve found is that when times get tough employers become even more value-conscious. Training is often one of the first casualties of the accountants red pen. We don’t do training, we simply ensure that employers get the optimal ROI from their training investments - or they get their money back.”
So how does the UK survive doom-mongering?
Harvey has the solution, “Britain has to be first choice, for schools, for university, for work. Otherwise our home grown talent will move elsewhere. We just have to make this country better than good, we have to be the best and for that to happen we need to invest and business needs a stable landscape for that to happen.”