Bradley Kay always wanted to be a film director. After studying film and journalism at Edith Cowan University, he honed his craft by making independent films. After a couple of local successes, he moved to London, hoping to make it big in film and television. But fate had other plans.
London was expensive and breaking into the industry was tough. “My life was set for the creative path, so I didn't have to think about buying suits and going to an office,” he laughs. “But if you don't have any experience, you can't just walk into a TV or film job. Unless you’re working for nothing.”
To make ends meet, he picked up a role at Barclays doing testing for a large infrastructure project. He spent his days exploring the system, interrogating the processes, and stress testing the implementation. Quite accidentally, he became a subject matter expert in the system.
When the project ended, his manager dropped by his desk with an offer. He was moving onto a new project—a global SAP implementation for the bank—and wanted Kay to come with him. The accidental IT analyst shelved his directorial ambitions and accepted the role, kickstarting a wildly successful career in IT that would take him to some of the best companies in the world.
A PROGRAM OF INNOVATION
Two decades after falling into his first role at Barclays, Kay took on his biggest challenge yet, joining Maddocks, a 136-year-old Australian law firm as its Chief Information Officer.
He inherited a team and a culture set in its ways. When asked for help or presented with an opportunity for improvement, the IT department typically said, “No.” Its technology was little better. Kay describes the “confused state.” He explains that, instead of innovating, they were content to stick with what had worked for the past 10 or 15 years. But there was, at least, an undercurrent of change.
The law firm’s then-CEO Michelle Dixon, who was still only a few years into the job, saw the value in technology. She had encouraged people to explore ways to innovate and evolve. Already, the company had switched from desktops to laptops and migrated from on-premise servers to outsourced data centers.
But substantive transformation required something more formalized. Not long into Kay’s tenure, the company kicked off a program of innovation. Instead of whiteboards and brainstorming sessions, they used a battery of unusual exercises and experiments.
During one exercise, Kay encouraged his direct reports to work from somewhere else. “That means not the office and not the home,” he says. “We wanted them to experience what it's like to use our technology in a remote setting.” For context: Maddocks’ lawyers regularly work on-site. By emulating their working style, Kay and his team experienced the challenges and roadblocks they faced every day.
A CAUTIONARY TALE
Before Freshservice, Maddocks had tried to roll out another ITSM platform. Ultimately, the implementation failed. With a second attempt at transformation looming, Kay reflected on the root causes for the earlier failure.
It had been a solution-led project and that made for a fractious implementation. The IT team was told what to do, but not why to do it or how the change would improve their working lives. Preparing for Maddocks’ second transformation, Kay reset his focus.
“Don’t start with AI or whatever the latest tech trend is,” he says. “Start with the people.”
That meant more than just finding a user-friendly and intuitive ITSM platform. He knew cultivating buy-in and enthusiasm across the IT department was key to driving long-term change.
Kay focused his attention on the people in charge of the service desk—the IT managers. They were the ones in charge of the service day-to-day. They had the most interaction with frontline employees. Without them, the implementation would stall out once again.
His engagement strategy was two-pronged: Change hearts and minds or change the people.
The former was always his preferred option. Kay went to individual managers and sold them on the change: better technology, more efficient ways of working, less stress, and more impact. Many rallied behind him.
With a strong core of energized managers behind him, Kay pressed on with the implementation, rolling Freshservice out to the entire company. The impact has been immense.
DRIVING A WIDER TRANSFORMATION
Maddocks’ IT transformation drove improvements at all levels of the department. Front-line employees are “happy and productive using it.” Their working lives became easier and their performance spiked. At a managerial level, Kay and his team have access to data they could only once have dreamt of.