With the annual Digital Leadership Report about to land on business technology leaders' desks, diginomica caught up with the new CIO of Nash Squared Group, who carries out the important state of the community analysis. Ankur Anand arrived at Nash Squared in June as the company continues an aggressive growth strategy and, like its customers, deals with the technology skills shortage.
Nash Squared Group describes itself as a provider of technology and talent. Formerly listed on the London Stock Exchange, the business has been ‘doing a Dell’ since 2018, when Isle of Man investment firm DBay Advisors took the firm private. Nash Squared reports billed revenue of £1.3 billion from placing over 500,000 technologists and delivering offshore technology services to the likes of insurance firm Atlanta Group, amongst others. Brands under the Nash Squared group include Harvey Nash, NashTech, Crimson, Spinks, Talent-IT and now Flexhuis, operating from 49 international offices in 17 countries.
Since leaving the London Stock Exchange, Nash Squared has been highly acquisitive and expansionist. Two days after CIO Anand spoke to diginomica the company added a Canadian operation to its portfolio, whilst in 2022 the NashTech offshore business expanded into Latin America to increase its opportunities in North and South America. New centres were opened in Columbia, Costa Rica and El Salvador, which sit alongside existing centres in Poland and Vietnam.
Whilst in recruitment, the heritage of the business, Dutch business Het Flexhuis, which provides recruitment as a managed service, was acquired in July 2022. The Flexhuis offering was then taken globally in February 2023. These expansions have led to the creation of Anand's role. He says:
This company has been highly entrepreneurial, and now we move to the next phase of growth, as it is important to bring it all together for our clients.
The next phase isn't just about the operating model but continued global expansion, he adds:
As the US is growing, we need to scale up fast, and it is the same in Asia. As the CIO, that will come from using the cloud, talent and the operating model. There is always room for optimisation and automation, especially of low-value processes, so that our people are focused on building relationships with our customers and candidates. I believe this will make us very strong in terms of our global expansion.
Dot to dot
Having made a series of big deals, the senior leadership team of Nash Squared felt it needed a CIO in order to get the full value from its acquisitions, the CIO says. Adding:
The way I look at it, we have invested in technology to drive the business lines, but we have missed the opportunity to collaborate better. So, we will bring all the systems together with a data strategy to create a single client view. We have to look at it as a global business; the capability comes from the data, the platform and the collaboration. This will ensure our people are empowered with data to make decisions at speed.
We are looking at client engagement to make sure that we have the right operating model. By connecting the dots on the customer, our sales teams will have the right information available to them. So, the first thing is collaboration. How do we do it better, to be more efficient, and gain competitive advantage, and to attract more top talent?
Technologically, that means we need an agile infrastructure that allows us to scale up and scale down. We can promote collaboration through various tool sets, and all of this has to be done with the customer and the candidate at the centre of our thinking.
Implementing the dot connection will be NashTech, the group's own tech firm. Anand says:
They are at the forefront of my strategy in terms of platform and infrastructure.
As we have detailed time and again on these pages, technology is only part of the story in changing the way an organization operates; the big challenge is the cultural aspect. Anand says:
Success comes with not only the strategy but the speed that we execute that strategy. Cultural integration is an important part of our transformation. Many organizations fail to do that, and the CEO, Bev White, sees this as a really important factor.
With this in mind, Anand has members of NashTech and Crimson on his technology advisory board. NashTech sits alongside Microsoft and Bullhorn CRM as his three key technology providers. The CIO cites data as key to his strategy, he says:
We have data analysts across various parts of the business, and we are beginning to look at a lean process with democratized data. Every single organization is hampered by data bottleneck issues.
There is a finite amount of talent available. In the Digital Leadership Report of 2022, 70% of responding business technology leaders said that the skills shortage was preventing their businesses from keeping up with the pace of change. As a CIO locked in the same battle as his organization's customers, how does Anand see his business and community responding?
We have to develop a lot of talent for our industry, and we are working with our clients to bridge the gap. The market has taught us that this is necessary. There is a huge talent fight, and in the last year, we have been competing for talent with Microsoft, Google and Amazon Web Services.
Our clients have that same problem, and to meet future demands, we need to give back to society and develop the talent for the future.
Anand joined Nash Squared from Manpower, the US-headquartered staffing giant, which the CIO describes as highly diversified and federated. He spent five years with the business in technology change roles, firstly as Global Director of Technology Transformation and then as Regional CIO and Head of Transformation for Europe. Before joining the recruitment-focused sector, he spent over 18 years in financial services with the international bank Citi in various technology change roles. Over the years, Citi has been a proving ground for many business technology leaders; he says of his time there:
Citi played a pivotal role in laying the foundations of my CIO career. It gave me an international view with time spent in Singapore and Latin America. So, it was a rich source of learning. What I really learned was that it is not necessarily the results; it is the manner that those results are achieved.
There are very few organizations that care about building their future talent, and that makes Citi really different.
Recruitment can - and occasionally deserves - to be treated with a 'them and us' attitude. However, increasingly, the sector, just like hardware and software providers, is realizing that it has to take an ecosystem approach. Delivering sales figures and resumes on desks is not enough. CIO Anand's approach to automation and data has the potential to enable that ecosystem approach to flourish, as it directs resources to where they are needed. It should also give Nash Squared employees the approach to be more human and really listen to the needs of the CIOs and CTOs, as well as candidates.