Hi, I am Zahra Scott-Gunnlaugsson and I head up the Customer Success team for relationships with the Charities sector and NHS in the South of the UK. My role supports the wider team to build relationships with leaders in technology within these sectors, CIO’s CTO’s, Directors of IT, Digital and Transformation, COO’s and CEO’s etc. and help them find the best solutions for their individual transformation journey’s and organisational development.
What drew you to Alphalake?
A number of things, from the openness and passion of the people already working here, to the diverse nature and locations of the team, through to the innovative and pioneering products and ultimately the leadership and vision of Founder and CEO Olly Cogan.
I’d worked in the charity sector for a while, at a number of organisations, and whilst I was incredibly proud of the work I, my colleagues and peers have delivered and will continue to deliver, I’d also been frustrated along the way at how, at times, we were held back by the stretched capacity of the team and the level of admin needed reducing face to face time with donors, the database and finance systems not aligning accurately in real-time requiring manual manipulation to show accurate records, or the lack on internal audience knowledge and data insights the help fundraisers build the right partnerships.
Coming from a background in Business Development before joining the charity sector, I’ve always felt relationships with donors and supporters is key. But they take time and effort that a stretched team may not have. Added to that are the multiple systems and platforms teams use, the volume of disparate and historic data sets held across these systems and the often siloed ways of working I large teams, that drive inefficiencies, cause potential errors and just create hard work for teams who fundamentally care deeply about the cause they work in and who want it to thrive.
2020 was tough in the charity sector, money was tighter than ever, the landscape was constantly changing and morale was difficult to maintain. I can only imagine how difficult it has been in the NHS and how important time with patients is, not only for diagnosis and treatment, but also to give the level of care and compassion our healthcare professionals joined the sector for. Similarly, it’s a sector with great people and purpose but systems and processes that don’t always enhance the BAU, let alone support in a crisis.
Being part of an organisation like Alphalake Ai that is looking to change this, to overhaul how technology helps organisations create more time with people and less time sorting or finding data, which holds us back from real relationships was so appealing and is really rewarding. Alongside this, the vast range of uses automation has in the healthcare and the charities sector is endless and the value of these is only just beginning to be scoped. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be joining such a pioneering sector.
To be doing so in an organisation so young and nimble that I can be part of the architecture to build success was also really enticing. Prior to speaking with Olly about the huge opportunity and potential in the sector, I perhaps would not have looked at a role like this as I didn’t feel my experience translated across, but I’m so glad he took a punt and I made the move I did.
From my role here I can be part of a sector I love dearly and still contribute to its progress and success, but also be challenged and grow in so many other ways, developing and enhancing my skills through the lens of the technology sector.
3 words to describe Alphalake?
Creative, collaborative, fun
What is the most valuable thing you have learnt from Alphalake?
To let go of process – strange when you’re a technology company, but coming from a charities background and working with some brilliant but fairly well established institutions, with embedded and hierarchical processes and sign off procedures, I’ve almost had to turn everything I know about process on its head.
Now, we of course follow process in our solutions, but in the day to day team work (and with being in a start-up) you have to be nimble, to work across multiple projects at once, be prepared for things to move and change quickly and to truly work in an open and collaborative way with your colleagues across the whole organisation.
We have a ‘follow the sun’ support team approach here at Alphalake AI as our team, although small, are truly global, so someone is always up and contributing to our combined success. Everyone has a voice across all areas of our work and sometimes things change rapidly. Structure and process are helpful, and at times necessary, but coming from a slightly more rigid and siloed work environment, I’ve quickly learnt that there’s a balance to be struck where passion, creativity and progress aren’t stifled because of process.
As someone who loves and often follows a plan, I’m finding embracing a more fluid approach is actually quite liberating.