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Do you know what it takes to create a team from scratch?



Author: Gonçalo Pereira

Shortly after I joined HPE, due to a change in the business plan for the project I was working on, I was given the task to create a service desk (24x7) team from zero. I would be responsible end-to-end for the whole process: interviewing, selecting the candidates, and most importantly, training them, and making all of them work as a team.

In my mind, I started to draw an initial plan and what would be the profiles that would best fit the needs of this team. Since this team was at an entry point to HPE and because I am a true believer that companies have a social responsibility (something that HPE can serve as an example to the world), I defined the following priorities:

  1. College graduates
  2. Long term unemployed
  3. Focus on diversity (gender, culture, ethnicity, etc…)

Did you notice the fact there are no technical requirements? That’s right! Isn’t HPE a leader in technology? So, all the technical information is already here, available to all employees, therefore my focus should be on people only – and this paid off as you will realize when you read further.

After the ads were published, CVs started to be received and analyzed based on the priorities defined. Shortly after, the interview process started. In the digital world we live in where you can find tutorials, articles, videos and all kinds of information, it was interesting to see the candidates coming prepared with the “recipes” that are available on many recruitment sites, but, my interviews are far from being the regular type and candidates were faced with questions like “what is your dream job?” or “With the information you have from this interview, can you please describe what will be a typical day on the team?” and also to write 5 or 10 lines on paper (yes, paper!), something the young candidates really struggled with, on subjects like “If you could, what would you change to make the world a better place?”

 I faced young candidates who were really tired of going from interview to interview to hear they did not have enough experience, people from completely different areas but willing to risk their career (and a regular paycheck) to embark in this adventure and unemployed people still full of energy and attitude to contribute. In the end, the team was assembled with a total mix of career backgrounds: college graduates; people with some technical skills; former airport x-ray operators, shopping mall security guards, etc.

Then the actual work really started - How to make such a hectic group work as a team (which in this case is fundamental as the team works 24x7 in rotating shifts)? I am not going to tell you it was an easy journey – far from it – but the first thing I did was to be fully clear and transparent with all of them on what for me will be the baseline for all the team moving forward.

It all comes down to 3 vectors:

  • Respect – From me to you and from you to me – This is always 100% and not negotiable.
  • Trust – Again, both ways, we are starting now, so this will have to constantly increase, can never decrease.
  • Transparency – Cards on the table, for good or for bad, we are a family, we celebrate together, we cry together.

Another of my initial action was to define a motto for the team, which stands until today: This is not a job, it’s an opportunity.

Hands-on training began, which required a lot of coaching and mentoring but we could see the interactions between the team members to get the job done as better as they could. It was interesting to see how the different backgrounds added a mix of ideas and conceptions on how this team should work.

My role at this stage was to point them in the direction they should take but empower them to make their own decisions, work together as a team and figure out what would be the best way to deliver our work with the best quality possible, ensuring my availability was constant for any issue they faced and required assistance. The results started showing up after the initial ramp up as the team started even to develop their own tools to help them achieve their goals and facilitate their work. Of course, it was no bed of roses and some of the team members realized that was not the perfect job for them and left, that’s part of the game, we are all people and all different, but they were replaced by others who could fill the gaps with the same level of attitude the ones already here got. We should move as one, as a single organism ensuring we have each other’s back.

As time passed by, I started sharing the achievements of the team with the rest of the organization to provide visibility to the engineers (they were the ones doing the work, not me) and increase awareness to the fact we have here a team filled with creative and dedicated people who are always willing to contribute and help, no matter how tough the challenge could be. After the first (successful) year, on our regular team meetings, my messages to them started having a different focus, more on the career evolution for them:

  • You are masters of your own destiny – You must invest in your career development. HPE has all the training tools necessary for your professional development. Approach me if you need help to develop a training plan.
  • I work for you, not the other way around – My role as manager, is to take care of your wellbeing, ensuring you always have work and fight for you, but above all to provide you with the possibility of a career path and professional growth.

Up to this day, we have the team’s path paved with several very successful stories, here are a few examples:

  • The team acts as a SPOC for all Salesforce related issues for CMS (including providing training).
  • The quality of the reports delivered is considered as a standard.
  • Customer feedback (internal & external) has been excellent.
  • We are preparing the CMS Customer Experience and Support organization for the aaS (as-a-Service) journey, in line with the objective of HPE senior leadership.

The journey will continue and I am confident these are only the initial chapters. All this was achieved with effort, commitment, and pure teamwork. From my part, I applied only what I have learned along my own journey in all the organizations I worked for. In all my professional career, from all the paths that were presented in front of me, I always knew what was the easiest one, it was crystal clear, but I never took it, do you know why? Just for the fact it was too easy! 

This leads to my conclusion and provides you with some advice that I think it will help you if you have to have a similar challenge ahead of you:

  • Don’t criticize – Help!
  • Don’t outcast – teach, coach and guide
  • Don’t micromanage – trust and empower
  • Accept diversity – embrace the change as a positive thing

Trust me, it will make you proud someday and will leave your mark in the world! I finish with a sentence from someone who is very important to me and my career at HPE and that I use as a personal guide: There’s always a plan!”

Each day, some of the brightest minds in the industry are collaborating, dreaming, and driving solutions on a truly global scale. At HPE, employees are fearlessly creating what’s next for their customers – and their own careers. Want to join our global culture? Explore #HPECareers and apply to our openings today! 


Desiree Chavez
Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Me.jpgAbout the Author 
Gonçalo Pereira has been running the CMS Global Monitoring team (24x7 L0/L1) in Portugal for the past 2 years. Has additional roles for support contract renewals in Brazil & help on the CMS transformation program Knowledge Management Workstream. Part of the CMS Customer Experience & Support Leadership team. Currently focusing on preparing the support organization for the aaS offer, with the creation of SaaS Operations team. 
Stay connected with Gonzalo via LinkedIn


About the Author


Employer brand and digital media evangelist. Proactively searching for new trends and best in class practices to find, converse, share, engage and refer potential candidates and bring the best Talent for the company.