New Girl. Ugh, the sore thumb in the office no one wants to be, but everyone wants to know about. This week it’s me. Hello iCabbi folks, I’m Sinead, nodding and smiling because I can’t remember all of your names or what teams you work on or who does what or what goes where….nice to meet you all the same.
I’ve come on board to head up iCabbi’s digital content and new magazine venture Under The Hood, which gives a voice to the global taxi industry. I’ll be finding and telling the stories that matter to the taxi trade.
What matters to me most on iCabbi Day One, however, is figuring out what it means to work here. No better way than to address my undesirable New Girl status head on by keeping a diary of my first week. If nothing else I’ll have my first piece of content to publish on Friday.
So, here’s a day by day of Week One with some initial observations thrown in. If you’re thinking about joining the iCabbi team, this look back may give you an idea of how your own experience may go. If, on the other hand, you’re reading this because you’re one of my new colleagues then you may be interested in seeing if you made a lasting enough first impression to get a mention!
When you’re new you don’t have a key. Even though I had to knock on the door to get let in, I still managed to sneak up on Ruth from HR and Office Manager, Sarah, worrying about where to get ‘her’ a chair. Fortunately, they’re pretty resourceful and the chair crisis was averted while I was forgetting the names of the friendly people welcoming me to the office. Except Derek.
I’ve joined the marketing team, which has a strict rule about only allowing people whose names begin with the letter S be on it. After Shane and Sorcha filled me in on what’s what, it was full steam ahead with the final prep for iCabbi’s customer update event the following day in Manchester. My small part in this was to pull a camera crew together to record the event and try and get to know as many iCabbi people as possible so I wouldn’t mistake them the next day for customers!
Hanging out in the kitchen helped with this. First, I needed to identify myself as the greenest of green newbies by searching for cutlery in all the wrong places. Then, I got to chat to a few new colleagues. Topics: Point Break and Time Cop. With: Michael and Ian, I think. What I learned about lunchtime is that everyone talks to anyone and since I talk a fair amount myself I’m good with that.
Throw a few meetings in for the rest of the day and it’s a wrap. Day one done.
4:15 AM! WHAT THE...? Didn’t my contract say 9-5? I guess the taxi industry never sleeps, and so this morning I joined a groggy gang of my new colleagues on a flight to Manchester.
Going to the customer update event is one way to fast track my induction into the taxi industry. Who better to bring me up to speed than the customers. And since I was able to disguise my own patchy knowledge by playing the interviewer, I had a golden mic opportunity to ask whatever I wanted without sounding like a total idiot.
I heard great stories of company growth, fuelled by the tech solutions iCabbi offers. I got a sense of a culture of collaboration, whereby customer insights and conversations feed innovation at iCabbi. I also got a glimpse of the future - Mobility as a Service - and a real feeling of energy about why and how the taxi industry can be a key player in driving change.
The purpose of the event was to update iCabbi customers on what’s been happening at iCabbi. quite a lot. In June of this year, iCabbi announced a strategic partnership with RCI Bank and Services, the financial services provider for Groupe Renault. This enables iCabbi to spearhead new models of innovation for the taxi industry. Enter iCabbi 2.0.
Utmost in the strategy for iCabbi 2.0 is the creation of an open marketplace to drive innovation in taxi technology. What iCabbi does best is its dispatch system - still the most sophisticated in the world. The plan is to develop a more advanced API for the core iCabbi offering and open up a global marketplace to anyone who wants to innovate custom, complimentary and - with some luck - revolutionary taxi products.
Of course, this won’t happen by itself. The investment supports 120 new jobs at iCabbi over the next 3 years, 60 of which are immediate. The first wave of this has seen two impressive senior hires - Gillian Lennox as Head of Product and Brian Rowan as Chief Operations Officer.
Certainly less impressive, but riding in on the same wave, is me. Underpinning iCabbi 2.0 is a vision of a global taxi community empowered to take control of their future. I’m here to give voice to this community.
It’s a pretty exciting strategy to be part of. And CEO Gavan Walsh really knows how to capture the imagination of a room in communicating iCabbi’s vision for the future of the taxi industry. Hearing Gavan speak with such sincerity and zeal reminded me of why I chose to close one happy work chapter to start a new one at iCabbi.
Another clever strategy bore fruit far more immediately, however - celebrating a well-executed event with a few drinks in the hotel bar before flying back to Dublin. A rite of passage for iCabbi newbies, it seems, is a spot of socialising with the team. I got that one fairly solidly locked down on Day Two.
It’s Christmas!!! Well, not quite, but it felt like it this morning at my desk. Behold a shiny new laptop, a host of slick accessories and a stocking full of stationary. Tra La La La La La!
One big plus to being the new person on the job is that September back to school feeling, where everything is new and clean and ready to rock. It’s the feeling of neatly ruling your first page of a school copybook X 100.
Of course, what happens next is work - and that’s exactly it from today onwards. I spent the day figuring out what I should be doing and scheduling meetings with the people who can help - and that’s pretty much everyone. I’m a firm believer in company-wide content culture, which is all about mining stories from the inside. I was happy to spend some time with the product and sales teams to find out what they get up to and what their views are.
Another visit to the kitchen confirmed what I first suspected, that most iCabbi people would describe themselves as ‘iChatty’. Moreover, it’s imperative that everyone knows what you’re having for lunch.
Speaking of food, there are lots of free snacks and a couple of group feeds a week. My observation so far is that these fit into the extreme polarity of very very healthy and very very good but bad.
Today I did some real work. I correctly located items in the kitchen with my first-press guesses. Best of all, I started floating people’s names into conversations with 0% failure rate (so far). I feel less new today.
Maybe it’s just that my newbie nervous energy has been replaced by something else - Friday Feeling on a Thursday! No, iCabbi doesn’t work off a 4 day week, but for my first 2 months here I will be in order to finish up some prior work commitments. I left my own company to come and work for iCabbi, which is a seismic change for me and needs a bit of maneuvering. This kind of flexibility really helps with the shift from business owner to employee.
And if I was even slightly worried about how I will cope in this new role, I needn’t have been. Entrepreneurship is a core value here. I knew this going in and it was one of the big pulls for me. But seeing it in action is a different story. It oozes out of people and I’ve been impressed over and over again when I meet members of the team here and learn their stories. Loved John and Joanna’s, and it would be hard not to love everything about Josh. You can own your role here the way you’d own a business, and make what you will of it. There’s room to take risks, make mistakes, nail it and claim your space.
Or - I’ve got this totally wrong and these guys are simply top class actors. If I'm honest, I have seen a bit of playacting in here.
Closing up for the day and the week, I’m excited to return on Monday and start filling this blog and Under the Hood with the stories waiting to be told. For now, I’m sticking a big fat THE END on my New Girl story and can be happily ever after known as Sinead from iCabbi.