04/11/2021

Interview with Carole Urey Chief Commercial Officer at High Speed Training

Interview with Carole Urey Chief Commercial Officer at High Speed Training

Parkinson Lee Executive search are delighted to be sharing a series of interviews with Business Leaders from across the region. Each month we will be publishing “an interview with…” that our Managing Partner, Lee Bhandal has conducted with highly respected Executives from across the region.

Our fifth interview is with Carole Urey, Chief Commercial Director at High Speed Training (HST). Carole is responsible for implementing the commercial strategy and business plan to establish meaningful KPIs, whilst managing and developing the commercial and sales teams, providing financial revenue support and introducing and maintaining sales processes to improve business performance.

High Speed Training are an online training provider covering areas of compliance and development. With over 160 training courses, HST have helped over one million learners across the world to gain accredited certificates. They partner with specialists in each field to ensure their training offers industry trends, legislative changes, and relevant knowledge and actions to take forward in working life.

In this interview, Carole shares an insight into her impressive career, the commercial challenges she faced as a result of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic and her priorities since joining HST in September 2021.

Interview with Carole

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Could you tell us about your career and how it led to your current role as Chief Commercial Officer at HST?

I began my sales career in recruitment, but after a few years, I decided to pursue the external sales route. Over the last 18 years, I have progressed through varying positions of seniority, from Sales Manager, Sales & Marketing Director, UK Sales Director, to my most recent role as Chief Commercial Officer at High-Speed Training (HST).

Working in various roles, across a range of sectors has given me exposure to every aspect of sales, marketing, product and operations, whilst overseeing multiple large business transformation projects.

The positions I’ve held at c-suite level, have allowed me to strategically and commercially influence business operations to drive growth and deliver incremental revenue.

In September this year, I joined High-Speed Training, and I am thoroughly enjoying the change of sector and the pace it offers. I am excited to use my knowledge and experience to contribute to the on-going success of HST and continue to build relationships across the business, whilst establishing new ones with our customers.

In the current climate, the role of Chief Commercial Officer, has become even more crucial for organisations as they navigate the challenges provided by both Brexit and the covid pandemic. How have you positively navigated through the last 2 years and have you had to adapt or change your focus?

In my last role, the company predominantly dealt with residential and commercial property lawyers and as a result of Brexit, this market was greatly affected. We experienced many months of uncertainty before a deal was struck.

Likewise, when the pandemic hit, we fell into the unknown. I developed a business continuity plan, that ensured we could remain operational and profitable, even with a remote workforce. I implemented communication methods that allowed us to reach out to our customers and provide our services. It was one of my greatest challenges to date – it required constant assessments and a great deal of flexibility.

Since joining the business, it’s clear to see that HST was ahead of the curve – they were equipped to hit the ground running. As an online training business, they have grown significantly through the pandemic and were able to act almost instantly, by offering training such as Covid 19 Essentials Close Contact Protection and Infection Prevention and PPE, to help navigate through the pandemic.

Why do you think more and more businesses are creating the role of CCO as an addition to existing board teams?

In my experience the role of CCO is not just about strategic thinking and delivering a commercial strategy, it’s about understanding and maximising opportunities within each area of the business, to support the company in reaching its full potential.

Throughout my career, I have led a number of business transformation projects and this collaborative way of working has significantly helped to deliver against our business objectives.

What are your values as a commercial leader? And how do you ensure these values are upheld by your team?

My values are honesty, integrity, fairness, accountability and being passionate about what you do. Trust is a significant element to any successful operation, and likewise, to be led by example. I ensure that decisions and the company direction are communicated clearly, which creates an effective and united dynamic.

How do you manage and influence your vision to the wider sales, marketing and support teams?

I work collaboratively with my teams and hold regular meetings to share updates, changes and gather ideas, so they can see their contribution to our financial targets.

Gathering feedback from our people and our customers is something that I actively encourage, it is a vital tool that increases performance outputs, reputation and company culture.

I hold my own open-door policy, where my team can comfortably speak about current challenges, finding solutions, share concepts and suggest improvements.

Clear lines of communication are crucial when bringing people on a journey, it allows them to be a part of the process, share values and ultimately, achieve their goals.

Personal development is crucial, even when you’ve successfully reached c-suite level, how do you continue to challenge yourself?

I personally think it’s important to learn something new every day! As a new member of the HST team, I tend to do this by spending time with different people across the business, to find out about their roles and gather their ideas. Not all answers are found in textbooks, people often have the answers, but it’s about creating the right forum to address them.

What would you say has been your greatest success and challenge throughout your career and how did you overcome this?

This is a difficult one, but I think my greatest success has been to see the people I’ve helped to develop, go on to create extremely successful careers. I take great pride in mentoring my team and sharing my knowledge.

Second to that, would be creating hugely successful sales teams that have delivered YOY growth for the businesses I’ve worked in.

I would say navigating through the Covid landscape and transitioning the customer success teams to remote working in a considerably short space of time, whilst ensuring there was a profitable business at the end of it, has been my greatest challenge to date.

Having joined HST just a few months ago, what has been your main priority? And how do you hope to accelerate the commercial operation and team success to reflect your long-term goals and strategy?

My first priority was to understand the current business strategy and get a feel for the company culture. I then utilised this, to shape a business plan that would help us to achieve commercial growth within our extensive customer base.

We are currently in the process of aligning our commercial strategy to our 3-year business plan, by reviewing our value proposition and validating our thinking with a number of customer innovation groups.

Can you share your advice to any aspiring CCO/Commercial Directors? What skills and personality traits do you believe are vital for a successful career?

To become a good leader, you need to understand the business from the bottom up – it eases the decision-making process.

Clear communication is key to running successful teams, keeping people engaged and ensuring that everyone is aligned to the company’s objectives.

You need to also have the ability to listen and then act on information – it is critical to gaining the trust of your customers and colleagues. As importantly, being kind and considerate goes a long way!

For more information on this interview or to discuss how Parkinson Lee could assist your organisation in hiring Executive or Board Level appointments, please contact Lee Bhandal on 07590 529 274 or l.bhandal@parkinsonlee.com.

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