With the fiscal year-end closure and the final stage of the pandemic within sight, it’s the right time to catch up with the CEO of Gen25 Gijs Martens. It’s been another extraordinary year for everyone, with continuous adjustments for people and companies all year round. This interview discusses the challenges of managing a Software consultancy company during challenging times in an ever-flourishing Industry where performance depends on resilience and connectedness. Furthermore, Gijs Martens reflects on Gen25’s performance, strategy, and the importance of creating a unique company culture.
Can you tell us how you experienced 2021 as CEO of Gen25, how did you guide your company through challenging times.
‘2021 was another year that presented unexpected challenges for us. We expected that our society would re-open at a faster pace. Something we looked forward to from a personal and professional perspective. In our occupation, it’s important to interact with each other face-to-face and to have direct and easy communication with each other. The building of trust and mutual understanding is something that works best in an in-person setting. 2021 also was a year in which the importance of flexibility was made clear again with many people working from home but still keeping the team happy and connected at the same time. All things considered, I am proud of the performance of the Gen25 team and feel that everyone gave it their best
‘The open and challenge-driven culture of Gen25 is a great asset and one of the main reasons why companies choose us over our competitors. Our employees need to stay connected. That’s why we’ve celebrated lots of virtual milestones, game nights and organized an awesome beach event last summer. We’ve also helped managers to watch over their teams and appointed a confident counselor. When possible, we will make sure to organize lots of fun activities, such as our Skiing trip in March and Survival25 in may.’
"The open and challenge-driven culture of Gen25 is a great asset and one of the main reasons why companies choose us over our competitors."
How did you experience this year as a father of four children?
‘Having children and working from home is challenging for everyone. I’ve got one kid who could finally physically go to high school and three others that go to primary school. Flexibility is key, when one of them gets a stuffy nose and has to stay home, you must be able to switch gears. Now that we’re returning to the office again, I do miss it sometimes. I also received messages from my kids asking where I am. To be honest, I do not promote working from home, I’m a believer in an office culture where people work - and learn from each other. In these times, It’s important that everyone can find the right mode and as an employer, I want to offer that flexibility.’ The pandemic has shown that our employees can handle that flexibility, but I do feel that social interaction is increasingly important. That’s also why we’re rebuilding our office this year with more spaces for informal interaction and collaboration.'
What were the highlights for Gen25 from your perspective?‘
'We delivered great solutions for our customers and made significant improvements to our Salesforce applications like Booker25, Subscription25 and Social25. This helped our increasing client base with their challenges and is recognized by the Salesforce ecosystem. This growth is really important for us. The first anniversary of our UK office was also special to me. Unfortunately, we could not celebrate it in person, but I expect that it will be possible this year, also I expect that the UK team will play an even bigger role in our growth ambitions. Another milestone is the founding of the Academy25, where we train bright students to become great Salesforce Consultants at Gen25. We were all amazed by the positive impact this had on our organization, and I know that each of them has what it takes. It was an amazing success and we will surely have another cohort of bright students in September. If anyone knows someone with a proven interest in IT and is not afraid to take the leap, let us know!
To conclude, we decided to sharpen our positioning to differentiate ourselves from the other boutique organizations in the Netherlands and the UK. We dove into the core of our DNA and investigated what sets us apart from the rest; We are a group of challenge-driven technology specialists with a passion to build great solutions. The challenge-driven way of working doesn’t only sound nice, it’s also recognized as very successful management- and collaboration style for our digital age, based on research done by MIT.'
"We were all amazed by the positive impact the Academy25 had on our organization, and I know that each of them has what it takes"
How is Gen25 going to achieve its goals this year?‘
'This year, we will make a significant change in how we’re bringing our solutions to the market. We’ve noticed that the majority of our consultancy prospects are dealing with several similar business challenges. We’re a scale-up with a mindset that matches with organizations like Mollie, Biller, and Castor that want to grow scalable. Additionally, we’ve gained insights into how our ISV solutions can generate more demand if we bundle them together to tackle Industry-specific solutions. We’ve already received great feedback from the market. Also, we’re creating our Partnership Program with incremental benefits that will enable other System Integrators to implement Booker25 and help them sell our other applications. Looking at our marketing strategy we are dedicated to a new data-driven approach to finding new potential clients. And last but not least, we also aim to strengthen our current relationships with partners such as Salesforce, AWS, and other key partners.’
"This year, we will make a significant change in how we’re bringing our solutions to the market."
What kind of trends do you currently see in the CRM market?‘
'We’ve seen various trends that offer opportunities for our consultancy activities. Foremost, there is an increasing number of companies that want to outsource their center of excellence to specialized consultancy firms that provide quality assurance on Salesforce environments. The demand in terms of scope and response times, further emphasizes the need for high-quality specialists. Moreover, an increasing number of organizations that are not entirely satisfied with their current Salesforce implementation are coming to us for help. It’s essential to get your implementation done right from the start by experts that know what they are doing. To conclude, I think that our consultancy department benefits from the growing Salesforce ecosystem and this also counts for our ISV solutions.'
"There is an increasing number of companies that want to outsource their center of excellence to specialized consultancy firms that provide quality assurance on Salesforce environments."
What’s your message to customers, partners, and Gen25 employees for the upcoming year.
‘First of all, I want to thank our customers for working with us. I think it attests to great leadership that companies are investing in great CRM infrastructure even when some were negatively impacted by the pandemic. We want to assure all our customers that we’ll passionately tackle every challenge that is thrown at us, and we will turn it into an innovative solution. To our partners, I want to say thank you for the extensive partnerships, we’ll add more value and generate more business for each other and our combined customers. I cannot wait to catch up with all of you in person. And to our Gen25 employees, I want to say that I’m proud of the hard work and creativity you are putting in, and for contributing to our unique culture.'
"I want to thank our customers for working with us. I think it attests to great leadership that companies are investing in great CRM infrastructure even when some were negatively impacted by the pandemic."