ESG's Mark Peters discusses business challenges during these challenging times with Sam Grocott of Dell Technologies.
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Mark: My very willing and hopefully certainly very welcome volunteer for discussion on Marketing in Challenging Times Today is Sam Grocott. Sam is the SVP of marketing at Dell Technologies. Sam, let's start off not so much with, you know, work and titles but you've been in this situation now for, you know, six months.
Sam: Yeah. I mean, what a game changer for all of us. It's work from home, it's school from home, it's everything from home and we've just now recently started to do more outside of the house, but it's definitely been a big, big change on our personal and professional life for sure.
Mark: Yeah. And I mean, I know you have a youngish family. I know you've got a lot going on at home, you have a big job. How's that working out? You know, I know you have teams of people to do things but I know you're very hands-on. So how do things work in the COVID world?
Sam: You know, for me, I've always been remote. You know, I do have about 30 people that are based out of Seattle with me but I have a team of about 700 around the world in totality. So for me personally, it hasn't been that big of a change. I am definitely not traveling as much. I'm not spending every other week on an airplane, either in the corporate offices or at some event around the world.
But Dell, as a company, embraced this a decade ago this really strong work-from-home culture where we've had a significant percentage of our employees work from home for a very, very long time. So it certainly has surged and we're doing it a lot more now because of the pandemic, but it definitely has been something we've been very comfortable with for a long time.
Mark: When I did the first of these discussions with execs like you a few month ago, it was very much just about finding ways to keep everything going. And gradually as the months and weeks have gone by, people have started to notice some up sides as well. I'd like to understand that. I mean, in some ways Zoom is more personal than what we had before. Would you agree with that?
Are you changing your work in order to accommodate these new media?
Sam: It's more personal and less personal at the same time. So being able to see someone this up close as we're talking and developing and creating new ideas is a very different experience than sitting in a room with 10 other people as one person's in the front of the room talking about an idea they have.
So definitely, the physical human experience is definitely very different, but the focus on each individual as we're talking about ideas or working on programs is very high touch as well. So it's definitely a very different environment. Look, I think this is the new norm for us as we go forward. I don't think the glory days, if you considered that, of the past are coming back ever.
I think we will go to more of a hybrid model from where we've been, you know, previously. But I think it will feel more like it does today as we go forward than it feels like it was in the years past. I don't think we're ever going to get anywhere close to that type of experience. Now, how do we become more effective and build upon this experience using technology such as Zoom that we're using now in upping our communication or collaboration tools around how we still deliver great programs, deliver great ideas and great outcomes for our customers is going to be the name of the game as we go forward.
And the team has done a really great job. I'm really pleased with what we've been able to do over the last six, seven months, and we're looking at ways to optimize this going forward to make it even better as a working environment, because we ain't ever going back, Mark. This is what it is going forward.
Mark: So if we go for that hybrid model moving forward, is that good or is that bad?
Sam: I don't think it's a good thing. I think it's a great thing. I don't think, when I think about the old world which is now six, seven months ago, to me, it's like when we used to listen to cassette tapes or CD-ROMs or go to the DVD store and rent out VHS.
It feels so foreign to me the fact that we used to think we had to operate by getting on planes, flying everywhere in person, going to these big physical events. We're never going to go back and personally, I never want to go back to that. There has been so many negative things tied up with this pandemic that have been so tragic, but there are some benefits that have come out of this, few and far between, but certainly my personal life, my working environment has excelled in this new normal going forward.
And I don't want to go back and I don't think society is going to let us go back, and frankly, I don't think it makes business sense to go back there. So yeah, we're settling in. This is going to be the long term. I think we'll get a little bit more of that hybrid model, but I don't want to go back. I enjoy the work-life balance this brings, but also the ability to not personally put myself through the old requirements of traveling everywhere constantly and feeling like that's the only way you would get business done.
Those days are out the door. You know, we're not going back.
Mark: You've said it in a way that I think gives us all some hope, because we keep talking about we're doing this for a while, and I think now we need to just get used to the fact that, putting the pandemic to one side, we're going to be doing this or something very similar as a new way and as you say, hopefully, a better way. So Sam, thank you very much for your time.
Sam: Yeah, thanks, Mark. Thank you, everyone.