Me, Myself and Illuminet: 10 minutes with Paul Caine

We are keen to show off the fantastic faces and stories behind the Illuminet brand, and we sure have plenty of them. Me, Myself and Illuminet: 10 minutes with… is a new series where over time we are going to get to know a little bit about these fantastic faces. Once a month our Marketing Coordinator Chloe Jones will interview a new face with a new story and gain an insight into their lifestyle and background, going on to explore the fantastic work they have done in the past, present and future for Illuminet.

Our first guest is Paul Caine, an Associate Partner at Illuminet. We hope you enjoy Episode 1 of this series. If you’d prefer to read the interview you can find the transcript below.

Interview Transcript

Tell us a little bit about you, nothing too professional at this stage, just a little insight into your life for us.

I’m Paul Caine, I live up in Cheshire so I’m a little bit further away than most of you guys on the south coast at Illuminet. I’ve been in IT for about 35 years. Originally, I went to university to study computer science along with maths and economics. The first job I had was, Barclays, and that’s where I met several of the Illuminet founding members. Since then, I’ve worked in a number of different roles I spent 13 years at Barclays. I then moved to a small consultancy where I ran a consultancy operation and set up the Indian organisation before running my own company for 15 years. Last year I closed those down in a nice controlled manner, and I’ve just gone freelancing now, I’m working really enjoying working through Illuminet.

Tell us a little bit more about how you fell into consulting and when it all started.

Yes, I probably did fall into consulting. My original career was as a systems programmer, but I then moved into managerial roles. I then went to work in procurement, which was an unusual move for the techie guys in those days, and I then went back into project management. When I moved down to Barclays, I found myself in a smaller organisation, having experience with a number of different areas of the business. So consulting was a sort of natural landing place for me, in many ways, and I’ve dipped in and out of it even though I was running my own companies for a number of years. Part of what I did I would actually sell myself out as a consultant to work with some of my clients as well. I tend to not always be the same; I work on commercial projects, sometimes I can be working on a technical project implementation, and other times it could be an organisational transformation so it can be lots of different things. So, I’ve had my I’ve had my fingers in many pies over the years.

What would you say is your favourite thing about working consulting?

I think it’s actually bringing a new perspective to somebody else’s problems and helping them solve that problem. That’s what I really enjoy. I’ve done a few things where I’ve gone in and people have told me the problem was, x, by the time we finished analysing it, we had looked at it and its actually y, so we had a problem with backups and actually it was just that whole server infrastructure was a problem. We found that all the backup problems went away but actually had better infrastructure as a result. Similarly, I’ve done similar things with commercial, people often want to change suppliers, but then when you analyse it actually staying with the same supplier but changing the way you interact with that supplier is actually a better thing to do in most cases.

Where along this path of did you, did the paths of you and Illuminet cross?

I met Greg and Graham, and Steve when I was working on all the various call total quality initiatives in Barclays. We had a number of people from all around the country that were running facilitation training and total quality training, and we often used to get together as a group so all facilitators would come together and we’d meet up with all the guys from the north and it was a few people from London, and from Gloucester, and so we just build quite a strong bond from there. And that was 25 years or so ago, and it’s just one of those things where once you’ve had a close bond delivering a project, you know that doesn’t go away and people know that they can trust those people that you’ve worked with if you’ve delivered a quite a difficult project, you know you can trust those people on anything you work with in the future.

How long have you been an Associate Partner with us now?

It’s about 12 months now. I spoke to Greg, and Steve in Sheffield in October, and I think I started on my current assignment in the November, so I think November the 20 something so it’s almost exactly 12 months since it started working with you guys. I signed up to be an associate client director as well so because I’d take the opportunity to try and build Illuminet’s footprint within my clients as well so that’s been an interesting development.

Tell us a little bit about what you’ve done with Illuminet over the 12 months, what has been your biggest achievement or your best highlight?

We are doing a network discovery project for a police force. And as a result of that project, I identified a number of different things. First of all, we needed to actually do some firefighting on an initial contract, and we needed to get that sorted which we did. We saved them a little bit of money, but we identified a new opportunity. We’ve worked for about two or three months and managed to deliver that. What that did was it saved the force, it’s a joint force, just under 22 million pounds over five years. In lockdown we’ve managed to deliver that within a very short space of time, lots of working from remote while we’re doing that. Now what’s happened is, now I’ve got responsibility for implementing the programme that has come out of the back end of that room. That was really hard work, but it’s been really good fun. Big achievement saving the public sector 22 million quid really.

How are you finding working remotely in terms of being able to continue consulting?

I’ve always worked from home quite a lot, I tend to be about telephone and emails really, but now with the advent of teams and zoom and all the different conferencing systems. That makes one to one interaction actually quite good. What’s strange is if you’re more than about 30 seconds late for a meeting, you feel really guilty. If it was in the old days if you rocked up with a cup of tea and a biscuit, you get away with those five minutes late. Not that I plan on being late all the time, but I have found that the consulting side is okay, but there’s solutioning within a project where you need to get a bunch of technical people together, where basically you’d sit around the whiteboard and work things out. That is a bit more difficult to learn on the zoom call. You can get everyone together, it’s easier to get people who are geographically spread on a call, together, but people don’t really interact in the same way nobody sort of steps up to the whiteboard or the pen and starts going well what if we did this or what if we did that. I think we lose a little bit of that. But overall, though, the positives outweigh the negatives, I think it’s been it’s been a positive experience

What are you most excited for about the future, working with Illuminet?

Well, there’s a number of things to be honest. Apart from continuing to work with what is a really lovely bunch of guys to work with. I’ve really enjoyed being with them, they’re very inclusive into their organisation for someone who is, you know, typically outside it like me. We have an opportunity to reproduce what we’ve created for this police force for other police forces so I’ve been really interested to continue to work on that and see how we can get some benefit from that for ourselves, as well as for the police forces that we work with, and also helped to build up the RPA Centre of Excellence spin cycle with Anna. So that’s really interesting. And, and also the simplest work that we’ve had to do in business development. We’ve got three or four really interesting leads that have come out from that or contacts and methodology we’ve used they’re using the Illuminet methodology to apply it to a sales cycle has really helped. In fact, and we’ll get a number of really good leads. We think we’ve got a couple that will turn into business in the not-too-distant future. So, I think it’s been really positive so I’m looking forward to just a number of different battles on different fronts, but you know lots of different things on that, client work, RPA work and business development.

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