As a Sqills business consultant, Jonathan is always moving – whether it be across countries or throughout our offices in Enschede and Amersfoort. We managed to take a moment of his time and sat down with Jonathan to discuss his role at Sqills.
What would you say your job is in 10 words or less?
The obvious thing would be to say business consultant. But that doesn’t mean anything to anyone outside of Sqills. I think that what I do goes beyond business and consultancy. It is about helping or providing help for the customer in order to provide or implement S3 Passenger while focusing on their needs.
What made you decide to work at Sqills?
I knew Sqills three or four years before joining. At the time that I came aboard I had two choices: stay in France and work for one of the largest operators in Europe or go international. I had already broadened my horizons when it came to different industries. My previous job was implementing business intelligence tools, a job that is both technical and business related.
It is difficult for me to stay in the same country constantly. I need to interact with people who have different opinions, people who have a different culture. I need to be able to benefit myself and benefit others.
I wanted to join a company that was not ‘too big’. I did not want to be one of many and have no input. When you are a part of a somewhat smaller company, you can truly put forth ideas and have an impact.
This is especially true with software like S3 Passenger, because S3 Passenger is not just for Sqills – it affects many companies and has an impact on the lives of many people. We are talking about the entire UK, France with QUIGO and Bla Bla Bus and much more – with more to come.
Has your job changed since you started?
As a business consultant, my job evolves all the time. How you interact with customers, what you do, even within a project, your job is not ‘fixed’. The customer is constantly evolving too, as such, you must be able to change. I would say that what I do at Sqills doesn’t change, but how I do it changes all the time.
What makes your job challenging?
You are constantly trying to find a balance between the product vision and the customer wishes, which requires a lot of communication. This is not just words, but this is about building trust based on experience and expertise.
You may be forced to make tough decisions. You may have to tell a customer or a colleague that they are going against the industry trends. We must be trend experts, rail experts, S3 experts, in combination with communication experts.
Another challenge is that we must align long-term views with short-term views. We have a deadline that we cannot change and internal constraints when it comes to the work that has to be done. This means that as a business consultant, you are actively moving between the development teams and letting them know what you need. In your head, you are planning for the next 10 months while most people are focused on the next 4 weeks.
What makes you want to stay?
There are several things, first of all the future! Not only for the customer and the work, but because of what S3 Passenger is becoming. Secondly, I enjoy being involved in customer and internal projects, it allows you to enrich everything you work on. Whether it be offering another vision, a different idea, you are taking the things you’ve learned and discovered to bring value to your current project(s).
Finally, I enjoy that there is no real hierarchy. At Sqills you can interact with any team to solve a problem, whether it be a business case or a technical issue. There is no need to involve any type of hierarchy, no approval process or overhead. That is because our goal is to deliver the best possible product and everyone works towards that. You can only succeed if we all share the same goal across all different teams.
When you talk about your job, what is one thing that surprises them?
People are always excited about travelling, but a lot of people couldn’t do it themselves. I honestly am ready to go at a moment’s notice. Going to London tomorrow? No problem. I will make it work. Perhaps we will even have a train going through Antarctica in the future!
Is there any advice you would give for a person applying for a Business Consultant position?
There are several things. Keep your mind open to anything. Be ready to be surprised by the customer, by Sqills, by whomever. Be a source of ideas. Add your own personal input, because if you are just repeating something, what is your added value?
Be involved, but do not put too much emotion into the business side of things. This is not about what “you” are doing – it is about the positive contributions you can make to the company.
It is important to understand that we are always adapting to different customs, constantly moving beyond our own understanding of the culture. Even within Europe, countries may look similar at first, but are ultimately very different. Be prepared to celebrate the differences.