‘UltraMAP Inside Out’ is a raw, fly-on-the-wall look at UltraMAP in early 2021. An insightful and honest three-part story, ‘UltraMAP Inside Out’ is a revealing first-person view of this globally category-leading brand as seen through the eyes of Shona, UltraMAP’s young Commercial Officer.
In a business world filled with over-honed marketing messages, chest-beating and grand claims, how refreshing it is to read about a brand filtered only by the fresh mind of a relatively new team member.
Here’s how Shona Connelly, Commercial officer at UltraMAP diarised a period of her time with the global category-leading UltraMAP team early in 2021.
“You’ll have heard these names before. Martin Connelly and Andrew Desforges.
Martin is the Commercial Director of UltraMAP. King of finance, sales and marketing.
Andrew is the Director of Operations. Captain of monitoring, systems development and systems support.
But, what do they actually do? What does all that mean?
Martin’s main task is customer interaction. He finds new customers who need our services and looks after our existing ones. Martin also looks after financial records, invoicing, payroll and ensuring the UltraMAP website is always up and running. Plus looking at ways to always improve the site, of course.
Andrew oversees the monitoring team. Being there for the team when help or guidance is required, as well as developing and maintaining the AssetMonitor software with Stuart Finden. Stuart is UltraMAP’s software developer extraordinaire. He’s always there to save the day.
Martin and Andrew do overlap when it comes to ‘Data Sales’, as they both work together in parallel. For example, Martin will interact with the customers and produce quotations, and Andrew will extract data and focus on data reporting and delivery to the customers.
So, who do we have left?
Well, we have three teams around the world. Monitoring Team UK, Monitoring Team Philippines and Monitoring Team Oman.
Combining those teams, at time of writing (early 2021) we have 25 members of our monitoring team. They work shift patterns to ensure our customers cables are monitored 24/7, 365 days of the year.
We also have a 24/7 software support team that ensures AssetMonitor is always-on.
And you just thought it was only Andrew and Martin!
COVID-19 and UltraMAP.
In late 2020 and early 2021, how many people were working from home or were placed on furlough schemes in the UK? Many millions. Lots of shops were closed too, so more and more people were ordering things online. So there was more shipping of product. And that impacted the world of UltraMAP.
COVID-19 affected how quickly cargo was being unloaded from vessels. And that resulted in a lot of congestion around ports. Many more vessels than usual were stationary around coastlines.
This was potentially dangerous for asset owners (that’s surface and sub-sea assets such as cables, to you and me), particularly if the vessels were unaware of what was below or immediately around them.
UltraMAP has many customers with assets near congestion locations. So there was additional demand for more active monitoring to ensure no cable strikes occurred. Our monitoring team were, and remain, very busy!
As direct result of these new external forces and challenges, many of them connected to the pandemic, new internal challenges began to emerge.
For example, our monitoring team is split over 3 different locations, UK the Philippines and Oman.
The response to COVID-19 in the Philippines was similar but, in some ways, quite different to the way the UK responded.
There were very early lockdowns and encouragement to work from home in the Philippines.
The monitoring team had to adapt. And quickly. Going from using 3 monitors in an office to working from a laptop at home was quite a shift! The world had changed – but our brand purpose had not. We were, and we remained totally focussed on reducing the world’s cable strikes to zero. Even with our access to equipment curtailed.
We overcame this issue of course, making sure the entire team had all of the tools necessary to ensure that they were monitoring as effectively as possible – every second. This included upgrading hardware, software and internet services for the new circumstances.
Managing the Impossible as a Global Business.
All of that said, there were occasional cases where it was impossible to work from home. So how did we accommodate that?
Where we absolutely had to, we arranged for the physical collection and transportation of team members from their home in the Philippines, to the office, and back. This is critical work! And that sometimes requires critical action. And in exactly the same way, we transported essential night shift workers leaving their homes during the implemented curfews.
24/7 monitoring means 24/7 monitoring.
UK HQ Headaches, too.
In the UK, we had different challenges. We had been able to transport monitors from the office to our tam member’s homes. Which was great and relatively straight forward.
But we did have a few miscommunication errors. It’s difficult to ask questions when you’re stuck, heads down on a task during the busiest period of your working life. Sometimes, it was just impossible even to make a phone call to the big bosses, because you and they were so extremely busy and very often bouncing from zoom meeting to zoom meeting.
We had to learn new ways of communicating. Needs must. And we learned how hard it is to pick the the right words to explain what you’re struggling with over the phone. It’s so much easier sat beside someone, pointing at it on the screen and saying “look at this here, this is what I’m stuck with. What does that mean?!”. Still, even though many things took a little longer, we did really well. We managed. UltraMAP is a brand is so open about its purpose – to reduce cable strikes to zero.
So what else can we do? When something is your purpose, it’s all you know. You’re committed.
NEXT: Part 2 / Part 3