Services & Solutions

Why Gibbs Hybrid Is Special

"Gibbs is one of the most client-focused companies I have met. They are passionate about high-quality delivery, very determined and extremely hard working. They have built an incredible network!" - CEO Barclays

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COVID-19: A Message From Gibbs Hybrid

Dear valued client,

I hope this note finds you well and in good health.

Needless to say, we all find ourselves now in a crisis none of us have ever experienced before and one that is totally unprecedented. My first thoughts are of course with the health of my colleagues and you, our network of customers, contractors and friends.

Like many of you, we are now working remotely and I would like to reassure all of you, that for a number of years now, we have a robust business continuity plan and have adopted a policy of secure, flexible working with facilities including video conferencing and voice conversations between computer, tablets and mobile devices. So, other than seeing you in person, we can very much continue to guarantee the same level of service, professionalism and care you have come to expect from us.

We made practical operating decisions to lower the risk of exposure to our employees and help reduce the spread of the virus. So far we have:

  • An Emergency Management Team – This team meets regularly to assess the ongoing pandemic and take any necessary action/s to safeguard our teams.
  • Monitoring of Guidance and the Law – We are observing all official direction and directives in all locations where we conduct business.
  • Encouraged all employees to work remotely – We have given our employees the option to work from home to support their family and loved ones.

Flexibility, agility and a focused approach have always underpinned our service and will continue to do so, and as such, you can always be assured of our support during these troubled times. We appreciate your continued partnership and interest with Gibbs Hybrid.

Of course, if you wish to contact me personally, please do feel free to do so.
We do look forward to seeing you again soon and in the meantime, on behalf of all of us here, we hope that you, your family and friends stay healthy and we wish you all the best.

Farida Gibbs
Chief Executive

Why the One-Stop-Shop?

In today’s world, everyone wants to acquire everything under one roof… Amazon is a great example! Or Sky is another! Why get a telephone line with BT when Sky can offer a suite of solutions under one roof – internet, telephone, broadband, entertainment channels? Why do so many people love going to shopping malls? Because they can buy their goods, get some food and park their car all under one roof. Why do so many people like shopping in the larger supermarkets? Because they can get their groceries, grab a new kettle and purchase some clothes. Again, all under one roof. Life is moving towards convenience. Our shopping habits are changing.

We are a “one-stop-shop” for any client who needs help with finding talent, or for anyone who wants to have a supplier build a team and run a project, and finally, for anyone who wants to outsource an administrative function.
Is this what we really do? Of course it is!

Gibbs Hybrid offers a “one-stop-shop” solution across Talent Solutions, Managed Solutions and Outsourced Solutions that drive customer success.

The CEO Blog

The waning decades of the last century were the heydays of the conglomerates – IT&T, WR Grace, General Electric among others. Investor Christer Cardell now says, “I think it’s the end of conglomerates. Those classic conglomerates are falling apart. It’s an old-fashioned structure that is getting increasingly difficult to manage.” It never made much sense to have, for example, brewing, shipping and asbestos under one roof. Management consultant Tom Peters exhorted companies to ‘stick to the knitting’, and the era of diversification was upon us.

So the question now is, what’s the “knitting” Peters refers to? Companies define it differently, the broader definition allowing for a more intelligent strategy – Ford Motor Company, for example, defines itself as an automotive and mobility leader. This allows it to be not just in cars, but in driverless taxis, dashboard software, road technology, sustainable fuels, and so on. BT has gone way beyond plain old telephone service (POTS), and now offers customers broadband, tv, mobile communications and even, if you insist, landlines. Why? Because customers want the convenience of the one-stop.
Banks offer many value-added services on top of looking after your money. Travel insurance, mortgages, shopping discount packages, pension advice – it’s all there. They can do this not just because they have significant buying power and can offer benefits, but because people by and large trust banks with their assets and loyalty. While a customer may buy milk and Mars bars at the corner shop, it’s unlikely they would buy a pension plan at the same shop. They give the bank, however, permission to offer a wide range of finance-related products.

Inside our company, we have long discussed what our “knitting” is. We have different customers inside our client base – procurement, HR, finance, strategy, C-suite, among others. They would seem to have extremely varied requirements, infrastructures and timelines – and they do! We have managed payroll for multinationals, project-managed software architects and developers for government departments, set up an IT operation in Central Eastern Europe, developed a know-your-customer financial services practice in Luxembourg, and much, much more.

We have come to this – our “knitting” is not just the opportunity for clients to buy a single-source one-stop shop with Consultancy, Talent and Outsourced solutions, although that is what we do. While we believe this is a unique offering, and as a 13-year-old company with 29% year on year growth, it’s fair to say that it’s working for us, I think it’s more than that.

Companies today listen very carefully to their customers, especially if they are business-to-consumer. They respond to their customers’ aspirations and goals, sometimes leading, sometimes following. Doc Searls wrote the book on this, called the Cluetrain Manifesto. One of Searl’s sayings was that companies are conversations. They are porous and reflect their environment. So as their customers buy fair-trade coffee, free-range eggs and sustainable wood products, so too these companies are looking for vendors that reflect their values.

Vendors that think beyond the bottom line, that are relationship-driven rather than transactional. Vendors that demonstrate that they truly have a corporate social responsibility – not just write glossy brochures about it. Vendors that extoll diversity, encourage an inclusive workforce and celebrate difference.

Is it more complicated for large corporations to live in the world now? Yes, but engagement always wins over isolation, and the outcome is always better. Their encouragement of a more diverse supplier base gives opportunities to companies like ours and many others. It empowers us to raise our game, operate at the highest level, and treat every client opportunity as if it were our first.

That’s our knitting, and we’re proud of it.

The Power of the One-Stop-Shop

Over the break, I’ve been thinking about how some companies like to showcase their ability to deliver to specification, on time and within budget. But surely, these are ‘givens’? What about additional measures such as ‘harmony’, ‘delight’ and, yes, even ‘love’; aren’t these the kind of things that inspire loyalty and trigger favourable recommendations?

My company prides itself on its relationships with its clients – understanding their needs and tailoring our responses precisely to them. That’s the harmony element. We also deliver and go the extra mile, plus a bit more, to make sure they’re delighted with our services. In fact, we strive hard to make them love us, so that they spread the good word. An internal recommendation to another divisional head is probably the most powerful way of expanding our business. It’s priceless. We like to think of this as cross-buying rather than cross-selling. And it’s been working for the past 13 years.

Okay, we may appear to be a bit altruistic, but we base our approach on common sense. We are unusual in that we embed, in a single company, three lines of business which clients normally source separately, along with the administrative headaches that go with such an approach. Why go to one company for contingency staff, another for outsourcing work and a third for ‘Statement of Work’ based tech projects or programmes when you can get all three, of at least the same quality, from a single organisation? You can perhaps see where the ‘Hybrid’ part of our name comes from.

As, as sometimes happens, a client’s needs change – a headcount freeze in the middle of a project for example – a one-source company like ours can rearrange matters so that we can move from headcount to programme deliverables on a fixed price to complete the work suddenly threatened by such a policy change.

We are lucky that we are a privately-owned business. Our staff aren’t bound by red tape or the demands of shareholders to maximise their billable hours (and their billing rates). It means that our employees are flexible and can respond quickly to changing circumstances, doing what’s right rather than looking over their shoulders all the time. We encourage original thinking, innovation and agility as part of our culture. The talent we put in to fulfil a contract is exactly the same quality as that discussed during the initial negotiation. We do not subscribe to the “A-team to sell and B-team to deliver” principle, which seems to be quite common in so many walks of life.

Our story has appealed to several types of C-level executives, especially the Chief Procurement Officer, The Chief Financial Officer and the Chief Technology Officer. They each have their reasons. The CPO thinks, “We have too many suppliers – it’s great to have a supplier that has multiple lines.” The CFO thinks, “We save money this way and, furthermore, the more we buy, the greater the discounts.” And the CTO thinks, “This helps my consolidation and rationalisation. I get multiple services under one roof, and I get a good price.” Our model might be disruptive in that it challenges traditional perceptions about company specialisations. But, in its way, is this so different from a bank offering insurance and pension services, for example? After all, we have come to accept this as normal.

Our company serves some of the world’s largest organisations. And they keep coming back for the above reasons. And also, to paraphrase a line from an old Al Jolson song, “we made them love us.” It’s what we do, and we’re proud to be that kind of company, working in a spirit of true partnership and harmony with our clients.

David, Goliath and Me

In his book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants, Malcolm Gladwell sets out to readdress the myth of David’s invincibility. It was not just David’s aim, says Gladwell, but the lumbering giant’s weakness that settled the issue. Goliath was slow, clumsy and probably half-blind. And he was a large target for a foot soldier like David, with his trusty slingshot. So it is with small and medium-sized businesses like mine. We must use all our skills to outwit our larger, more powerful competitors. But, although there are many exceptions, they can be slow to respond, tone-deaf in their approach to problem-solving and top-heavy, like poor old Goliath.

In the marketplace, I find that we attract like-minded clients, of all sizes. Corporations are looking for new ways to compete and operate in an environment that is, to put it mildly, dynamic. Many of the larger ones struggle with legacies – legacy software, legacy structures and legacy business methods. All of the strategies that served them well for years or even decades are now under scrutiny. Slowly in some cases, radically in others, sacred cows are being jettisoned.

This creates an opportunity for SMEs. The best of them combine cutting-edge technologies with the type of customer-obsessed business practices that most larger competitors simply can’t match. We treat each client as if it was our only one, and we mould our practices and pace to that client – some move quickly, others are more deliberate, some will take zero financial risks, others are willing to shoulder more risk in return for a lower price.

Working with SMEs has another benefit – the CEO is not some faceless person in a far off ‘corporate office’ – it’s me! I – and all the other CEOs of small and growing businesses – care deeply and profoundly about the people who work for me and the companies who have chosen to trust me with their business. This kind of authenticity and connection can’t be faked. We don’t operate like a conveyor belt, shuffling through people and clients like so many packages; we treat each client, each staff member, as an individual. The client has access to the top decision maker always, not some corporate VP: I respond, I empower decisions, I facilitate. Because in the end, while we don’t want to be the biggest company to serve our industry, we want to be respected and valued for what we do. What corporate vice-president could say that?

How Core Values Benefit a Business - Regardless of its Size

Core values are becoming increasingly important to companies because potential employees are seeking their next role with organisations that have core values that resonate with them. But how many companies out there really do know and uphold their core values?

For me, core values are things you feel – not something you make up or pluck out of the air. They support the vision of a business and shape its culture – essentially, they are your identity. I have noted that a lot of organisations tend to look at competencies rather than core values – a company cannot run on competencies alone. Furthermore, your values are your shop front for potential clients and employees as well as being an internal motivator for everyone.

When I set up Gibbs Hybrid over a decade ago, I wanted to establish some core values that would hold true no matter how much time and water passed under the proverbial bridge. Remember – they are not a fashion statement – they need to be embraced and lived and worked by. Indeed, I already knew what our core values at Gibbs would be, because I was raised by them. My parents said that if I lived by certain principles, I would grow up to be a good person and that appealed to me more than anything. I set up Gibbs because I was tired of the lack of respect and decency within our industry and wanted to build relationships with the people I dealt with.

Respect has always been the biggest thing for me –I was brought up with respect, and I applied it to my life and my work.

Because I set up my company on my own, I had to think about what really mattered to me. I thought about my previous places of employment and what had worked or not in terms of culture. I spent time thinking about who I am and what I care about and the service I wanted to offer my customers. I knew, for example, that the core values I set for the company would help me in my decision-making processes. Customer always first is one of our six core values – it means that we are always there for them, innovating new ways to help them succeed in their own businesses and going above and beyond what is normal good customer service.

When I hire people, I look at whether they will embrace the core values first and foremost – more so than their competencies. They can be taught new skills, but a person’s values are fundamental to who they are and whether they will be a natural fit for our business. I look at whether they will take that on board and embrace it. After all, we are a people-based company, and as such, we want to be the most respected one out there.

Aside from helping me to employ the right people, our core values help us to educate our clients and potential customers about what we do and what we care about. I believe that every single company we work with mirrors our values, which makes for a much smoother working passage. Indeed, I would feel uncomfortable in contemplating a working partnership with an organisation if their values were far removed from our own.

I passionately believe that our core values are our primary recruitment tools and the main reason we attract and retain the very best talent. Business is increasingly cut-throat, but I am a human being with flaws and emotions – I treat my team as part of my family. We all pull in the same direction, which makes us invincible.

Furthermore, job seekers are doing their homework. Before applying for a role, they will check you out on Glassdoor et al. and if you don’t have good values or treat your staff badly, you will find it hard to get the right people to come and work for you.

Core values should stand the test of time – through periods of shrinkage and growth. Benefits are also not the same as values – perks are nice, but they aren’t the glue that will keep you all together in times of turbulence.

My nugget of advice for what it’s worth is to set up a committee – a handful of people who really get your business and you – the CEO. They need that inner fire and passion for your company, and that input can come from anyone regardless of their seniority.

The biggest test for your chosen core values is this: you clambered into your time machine and whizzed forward 100 years, would those values still hold water? If you can honestly say they do, then you have them nailed.

Making Black Lives Matter, Matter

Making Black Lives Matter, Matter
Lessons and Opportunities

So much has been said, shouted and written about this that I hesitate to weigh in. However, as a woman, a mother, and a business owner from an ethnic minority background, I believe I have something to add to the discussion.

The impetus for the current phase of BLM was the murder of George Floyd in the US, but there is anger in the UK too, where official figures show that police in England and Wales were three times more likely to arrest a black person than a white person and five times more likely to use force in 2018-19. The death of George Floyd was distressing and ignited a period of deep reflection for many. We must use data-based evidence to ground ourselves to the true meaning of the protests and the Black Lives Matter movement. I was hugely impressed by the data provided by Gyana.

  • Since 2014, every month has seen more than 60 deaths at the hands of US police officers
  • In the second half of 2019, there were only 11 days where no one died at the hands of the police
  • The rate that US police in Utah kills people from the Black community is almost as high as the US murder rate
  • Of all deaths at the hands of police officers, only 0.3% have been convicted
  • When restricted to on-duty police officers, only 0.8% were ever charged
  • Since 2015, only 9.1% of deaths have available body camera footage
  • 92% of deaths are as a result of purely a gunshot wound
  • Black people are killed by police in Utah at a rate more than 9x higher than the general population
  • Adjusted for population, black people are killed by the Oklahoma City police at a rate more than 6x higher than the New Orleans police
  • In cities where the murder rate is below 10, there is no correlation between the murder rate and the police homicide rate

The frustration here in the UK has engulfed controversial statues across the country, new immigration rules, the treatment of the Windrush Generation and even school lunches, which are essential to the well-being of poorer, minority children. These are all vital, if uncomfortable, issues, and I believe we must reach out and have the conversations, followed by substantive action.

I recall my first experience of racism and being called a “paki” at school at the age of 11; I was bewildered, not sure what that meant. And so it begun – the endless taunting of my skin colour, the exclusion from friendship groups, the mockery, the insults – but why? Because I was not a “white” girl? It never even crossed my mind that I was the only non-white girl in the school. So, if this did not cross my mind, then why did it cross the minds of others? And here we are in 2020 still fighting racism in so many ways, but the issues now feel so much deeper.

From the streets of Minneapolis to the Windrush Generation here in the UK, ethnic minorities have been discriminated against and often demeaned. Housing, jobs, education and a thousand ‘micro-aggressions’ have all played their part in this discrimination. Ethnic minorities tend to have a lower net worth, are heavily represented in low wage, low expectation jobs, have worse health outcomes and are crowded in dilapidated housing. In policing, as I mentioned above, arrests are heavily weighted against minorities, and black people are more than twice as likely to die in police custody. Even the Coronavirus gets in on the act – black Britons in England and Wales have been nearly twice as likely to die with the disease as white people.

Against all this backdrop, what can one person do? It can be overwhelming. At times like this, I think of the Chinese proverb, A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Yes, there is no easy fix, but we all can use our influence, our business connections and our voice to make a small difference.

At Gibbs Hybrid, we have a positive employment policy, and we seek out underrepresented communities when we hire, either for contract opportunities, apprenticeships or full-time positions. We carry that responsibility to our purchasing, trying to use local suppliers rather than ‘big box’ outlets.

We work with world-class clients who strive to put diversity and inclusion at the heart of their procurement decisions, and I personally am involved with MSDUK, which brings together innovative and high-growth ethnic minority-owned businesses with global corporations.

I am passionate about working with organisations and companies to make a tangible difference. If you’re interested in joining me, let’s collaborate – email me at [email protected] to set up a suitable time for discussion.

So, to me, as a society, as individuals, we need to do better to demonstrate it. It’s not a ‘problem’ that minorities have to constantly explain to broader society: it’s an opportunity for us all to debate, strategise and come up with concrete steps to heal our fractured society and empower all of us to do better, be stronger and make a tangible difference.

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