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Digital Leaders Series 2022: SIRO Chats with CEO of Cpl, Lorna Conn

Lorna Conn joined Cpl plc in October 2017 as Chief Financial Officer and was appointed Deputy CEO in April 2021 and CEO in January 2022. Lorna has previously held senior roles in a number of public companies, residing in both Ireland and America during this time. Lorna is a Chartered Director and placed first in Ireland in her Diploma examination. Lorna is a qualified Chartered Accountant and a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland, having trained with Deloitte. Lorna graduated with first class honours in both the Bachelor of Commerce degree in University College Dublin and the master’s in accounting in the Michael Smurfit Business School. Lorna is passionate about Ireland, as a location to live and to do business in.

Tell us about your business?

Cpl is a global provider of talent solutions including specialist recruitment, managed services, outsourcing and strategic talent advisory services through Cpl’s The Future of Work Institute. Our mission is to be the world’s best at providing transformational talent solutions & experiences to our clients, candidates, colleagues, and communities. Cpl employs over 15,000 people who support our 4,000 customers globally.

We have almost 50 office locations operating in 12 countries world-wide – Ireland, United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Tunisia, and the United States. Cpl is headquartered in Dublin and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Outsourcing Inc (‘OSI’), a Tokyo headquartered publicly listed company. OSI employs over 112,000 people world-wide and operates in 39 countries across 6 continents. Through OSI, Cpl has a network of 250 sister companies, enabling an even broader service delivery capability for our clients.

Outline the role digital technologies play in your business and/or the digital service or product you provide.

We partner with multiple digital platforms across our organisation, to enhance our service proposition and to improve our employee experience. We have invested in employee engagement tools, AI powered candidate selection tools, optical character recognition tools to automate employee expense accounting and digital compliance tools to automate candidate onboarding.

Our digitised back-office manages online timesheets through automated flows to pay thousands of staff and bill our clients. We actively innovate new technology platforms like MyCpl – a mobile app that allows Cpl healthcare workers on demand access to their rosters, enabling them to accept / decline shifts in real time. We have also developed a remote health monitoring platform, ISAAC Care, that permits service users, through an app, to share information remotely with people who are identified as their ‘Care Circle’ 24/7. We actively pursue partnerships with leading edge technology partners who work with Cpl’s The Future of Work Institute in delivering next generation strategic wellness solutions to our clients.

What are the key benefits that digital technologies can bring to Irish businesses?

Digital technologies make Irish companies more competitive and more efficient in an increasingly digital-centric world. But it requires empowered and talented people to truly achieve the full benefits. Digital technologies have brought us increased efficiency in our processes, they have simplified complicated services and they have increased our ability to collate and assess data to generate new customer and market insights.

It has helped us to better connect to our colleagues globally during a period of significant and sustained challenge. Digital technologies make the world a smaller and more accessible space.

As connectivity improves across Ireland, what do you see as the big opportunities for Irish businesses from accelerated digital adaptation?

I see an opportunity to further enable global workforce mobility. Given the last two years of remote working, companies should no longer feel constrained by the conventional boundaries of the office network. Accelerated digital adaptation will allow greater flexibility and remote working for employees and this will be particularly helpful in attracting and retaining staff in a tight labour market. Companies can also look further afield to attract new talent if their employee engagement processes are digitally supported.

I also see a big opportunity to realise the value of Extended Reality (XR) technologies. Immersive technologies have been identified as a key driver of the next wave digital evolution, but the reality hasn’t quite matched the dream to date. These technologies have an ability to change how we learn, experience the world, and collaborate for innovation and change.

For businesses to maximise benefits from digital technologies, what key advice would you give?

Foster a cultural mindset of innovation and technology enablement in your organisation. If it doesn’t come naturally, force it – invite people to think-tank sessions, build it into your team meeting agendas and continuously ask for their input. People are best placed to identify the benefits of digital technologies. People will either adopt or fail to adopt technology, so you must come at it from a people first approach.

You must also have a sound business strategy that clearly identifies where digital technologies play a role. Finally, technology can be daunting and cost a lot of money so an agile, almost paranoid approach to managing digital projects is a must. Make sure to carefully design and plan for your requirements, and carefully manage these requirements as projects develop, to maximise the benefits of your investment.

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