Welcome to Going. Ahead. With Gage. My name is Gage Grammer and I am the Learning and Development Specialist at W2O Group. After my interview with our CEO and Chairman, Jim Weiss, I wanted to learn more about W2O Group and uncover more about the leaders themselves. So, I decided to start this blog series “Going. Ahead. With Gage.”
For my second interview, I spent some time talking with W2O Group’s president, Bob Pearson, where he shared insight on his vision for W2O and where he sees the company going. I hope you all gain some valuable insights and enjoy the read.
What is your vision for W2O Group?
The vision for W2O Group is to pragmatically disrupt the status quo. We say that all the time, but what it really means is that we are always looking at our clients opportunities or problems, we’re figuring out the existing models that they use today, and then we develop new models that provide that unique advantage they can use to reach customers more effectively, shape behavior, drive sales, and do things that make a difference. So, if we think of it as incremental innovation, we’re constantly incrementally innovating faster than our peers on behalf of our clients.
Where do you think the most significant growth will occur in the company in the next few years?
There will be some areas that are obvious and some that are a surprise. The obvious ones are healthcare, which will continue to grow at a great pace because it’s an important part of the economy everywhere in the world. Technology is the other practice that will grow well because, again, it’s a big part of the economy everywhere in the world. We are also great partners with many of the world’s leading global brands. The brands that really want to innovate, who happen to be global, we tend to be attracted to each other and you’re going to see more and more of those types of assignments. That being said, we’re never going to lose our edge in terms of working with the entrepreneur, which is why we have an agency like BrewLife. So, you’re going to see BrewLife continue to serve the needs of those who are starting up companies, creating value at an earlier stage. In terms of a surprise, the surprise would be our full entry into software. We are already building software, but people are about to see a series of products in the cloud coming out on a continual basis that they’ve never seen before, ranging from therapeutic areas to influencers and much more. We continue to grow into becoming a S²aaS firm, where services are powered by software.
What are you currently doing to help us get there?
I spend my time working on client business, which then helps me in working with our teams to innovate faster and create new products, services, or software. I center my time on working with clients because if I do that then I can actually see the patterns of what they need. Combining that with all of the awesome people we have here, we are able to innovate a lot faster. In a sense that’s the core of what I do. Service and Software.
What are your top 2 business challenges at the moment?
One is becoming truly global. We are global virtually in that we can do analytics and strategy in over 20 languages, but we’re not global physically. We need to be global in both ways. The second is that we are always going to be excellent at serving the needs of the Chief Communications Officers, but we are increasingly being asked to work with the CMO’s team, so you’re going to be seeing a tremendous amount of growth in our firm towards becoming an indispensable partner of the CMO.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice was also the simplest advice. It was from Dick Loynd, the CEO of Converse, who was a mentor to me when I was starting my career. I remember asking him this exact question: what’s the most important thing I need to know for the rest of my career. He said, “The most important thing is to make sure your reputation is pristine, and to never ever screw around with your reputation.” When he said that I was expecting something more dramatic, but it was just so simple that I will never forget it. And he is right.
What advice would you give to junior employees who want to grow their career in the W2O Company?
The biggest thing is to continually learn. People have a tendency to do their job and go home, but in our firm we have a lot of people who are here because they are curious and they want to learn. They need to be asking more questions, learning more at home on the weekends, reading more, they need to be, quite frankly, a little dissatisfied that they aren’t where they could be, but they could get there. Those are people that do really well in our environment. The other thing is that you have to go into different areas. You should be willing to move and get out of your comfort zones, and force yourself to learn faster. Being uncomfortable is a great way to keep the mind open.
Thinking of your most successful current employees, what characteristics do they share?
It would be similar to what I just said, it would be people that are asking questions, trying to learn more, taking on new assignments, and looking around the corner without being asked. There’s something about them that you know that they treat this firm like it’s their own – they’re really passionate and want to improve. I would also say a willingness to do something different or move. As we get bigger we’re going to need more and more people to just pick up, take the W2O way, and share it.