When he was just a little boy, he used to visit Romania quite a lot, with his mother. He was always impressed by its beauty and it's amazing landscapes, but he never thought that he would actually work and live there, as an adult. Now, Chris is back in Romania and he is here to stay, because he is the new General Manager at CGM Romania.
CGM means more than 8500 employees worldwide, over 200 developers and quality assurance engineers in Iași, eHealth products in 56 countries, over 20 eHealth software solutions and 18 countries with CGM location.
Iași, Romania is one of the 18 locations, so today, we introduce you to Christopher Roy Turner and we let you take a sneak peek inside his joyful team in Iași, because this year we celebrated our first 5 years of CGM in Romania.
Chris, what were your thoughts when you accepted the challenge to become General Manager at CGM Romania?
My first thought was that I want to do the right thing. I made this promise to myself very early that I do not want to concentrate on fighting for a job or a title. I want to fight for the employees of CGM Romania. To do what makes their lives with us better, easier and more fulfilling. In return, business results are going to come. Many people say this, but I truly believe that we are in the “people business” first and foremost. We just have people who do great software. Looking back I can summarise my feelings with this short sentence. Just before joining I finished Bob Iger’s book Ride of a lifetime and in many ways the title perfectly sums up what is happening. I am currently having the ride of my lifetime.
I know that you already made some changes inside the company and you have many others in mind. Can you please tell us more about these changes?
Yes, I have initiated some changes, but I think this is normal when a new leader joins a company. I spent the first 30-45 days listening, observing and talking with as many people as I could. This allowed me to deep dive into the business quickly.
Let me give some examples from all levels of the organization. We completely reinvented how we communicate with our employees. Very early we made the decision to expand our leadership team. This will allow us and our leaders to spend more time with the teams and to be there for them.
In addition I pushed on refocusing certain areas of our business unit. I wanted to put people more in the focus. So now our functional areas and their leaders (a functional area comprises of individuals who work on the same tech stack ie: Frontend developers, Testers, POs etc.) have the responsibility and the goal to build a closely knit community, to create a group where we can promote and foster knowledge sharing, support and personal development.
How do you communicate with your team and how do you let your people add value to the company?
We now have monthly town halls that are all about sharing and building a companywide community. I also started writing a newsletter about every trip that I take to Iasi sharing both business and personal related details about myself. I want people to know that they can approach me or anyone in the organization to make recommendations. In addition, something that I love to do is to walk around the office just saying hello to the folks. I have an open door policy. The only time you see my office door closed is when I am in a meeting. Otherwise it is open and people can and should just walk in to say Hi or to share news that they might have. Transparency is not a need, it is a necessity.
I believe in decentralization. We need to move decision making to the lowest levels possible. I want to motivate teams, team leads, and leaders to make and take decisions. This is their value. Having competent people pulling in one direction. The key to success always boils back to one single truth and that is the individual. I am here to make sure everyone does their best. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts just to say another cliché (laughs).
Why were these changes necessary? What did you find at CGM Romania when you joined?
One should always expect change, our ability to constantly adapt to change should be the only thing constant. We can see that the IT market has evolved in such ways that the old paradigms are just not (as) valid anymore. All of us are reinventing ourselves. What I found at CGM Romania was a great group of individuals that needed a new push to get to the next level. We can see that the speed at which CGM Romania grew is almost unrivaled. In growth so big it is obvious that in order to take the next step we need to adapt and introduce new directions.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for the big company CGM in Romania?
I think this ties back to what I said in my previous answer. When you are a small 20 – 50 – 90 people company you feel like you are part of a bigger family. Now when you reach 200 people you realize that you are no longer a family, you are an enterprise and that feels different. This by the way isn’t a problem, it's completely normal and is part of the growth cycle. So what we need to do is redefine this sense of family and move it to different layers. The team, the project and the functional area. In addition, we, as a company, need to create a culture where all of us have a shared set of values. This is our biggest challenge. How quickly can we reintroduce the family feel in those layers, how quickly we can stabilize the organization by improving our leadership abilities and finally by creating communities.
Once we are done our unrivaled growth will return and the next milestones are going to be around the corner.
There were a lot of changes and fluctuations in this industry after the pandemic. What do you think should be the approach of CGM in order to handle all these fluctuations of employees and salaries?
It certainly raises eyebrows, doesn’t it?
1) We need to continue down the path that we embarked on this year.
2) We need to remind ourselves and the market on why we do this, why we wake up every morning to come to work. To help modernize healthcare. A topic possibly more relevant and more noble then any other.
3) We have to reevaluate the way we approach business. For example, we finalized and announced our mobile work policy which will allow the teams to work when and where they would like from. We increased our vacation days, as we know that in the world of “home office” true relaxation comes harder.
2021 is almost done. What are your plans for 2022 and further on?
Plans for 2022 are simple. Grow and keep on enhancing this new CGM experience. I want more leaders to join our company, I want to be more people oriented and I want our organization to make a real impact on the market and the lives of everyone where products are sold. It's amazing to see how we fit into the bigger picture.
What is the best part of being an employee at CGM? Why should someone apply for a job at CGM and come work with you and your team?
Because they get to join something greater than themselves. They have the ability to do something meaningful, to learn from the best and most importantly be a part of a journey that hopefully will be part of their ride. We are there at the forefront of the healthcare mission. We are part of an organization that is growing fast.
In addition, I think we are also a great bunch of people. We have fun, enjoy working with each other and go home with a smile on our face.
What can you tell me about the people at CGM Romania? What do you like about them?
I think it’s great that we have people that are hungry to learn. That they are experts in their domain and that they are open. I remember that I couldn’t believe that all my introduction meetings had been positive. I love that we all have a lot to learn and that we are motivated to learn. I love that we know how to have fun. Everyone has their own unique story that is worth being shared and I love how we come together for each other and our mission. I love that we are ALL IN.
What about their free time for development and innovation?
Partially this is what our functional areas are about. They are here to help people. To give them personal development targets and to use the allocated training budget. Sometimes we attend conferences, sometimes we invite speakers and trainers to join us. Every quarter we offer self-development days, the colleagues can use Bookster and, in addition, we have the central platforms available for e-learning.
Something else that I believe is special is that people have the option to participate in Innovation days. Here the colleagues can make proposals to the product leadership teams. What we can see is something amazing. Our guys not only come with technical ideas on how to better optimize the system, but they also recommend features that are much needed and also are considered by the management to be implemented and used in the products.
How do you have fun at CGM Romania?
On many different levels. I think the teams have fun on a day-to-day activity. One of my favorite stories is about a team whose mascot is a pink unicorn. Now this has become such a ‘meme’ in the team that every time someone leaves they create a new design and print it on a shirt. In addition, this pink unicorn is also there in their day-to-day activities, coming up in logo’s, jira boards and elsewhere.
Something else that we do is have a heavy emphasis on team mood and how we can bring the folks closer together. During the day we sometimes offer team lunches. Later on outside of working hours we try to have at least one party or gathering per month. For our 5 year anniversary we invited Andra Botez to sing for us on our rooftop during a beautiful night. In the second week of October we had our inhouse FIFA 22 championship.
Ok, let's get back to work now. What do you do at CGM Romania? Can you give us some examples of projects that the company runs?
CGM Romania is at the center of product development for the CGM group. We have 200 people who are all here to support our mission in making sure that we give clients and individuals in the healthcare industry a viable, innovative solution for their needs. I think this is especially challenging as healthcare is one of those industries that is constantly evolving and the opportunity to support the patient – doctor journey is never ending.
We are working on some amazing software development solutions for the healthcare industry. CLICKDOC is one of them. CLICKDOC is an online platform, where patients can look through all the doctors in Germany and France, can make appointments and also ask for a video consultation. A team of over 25 people in Iași are working at CLICKDOC, offering software solutions for the medical market in Germany and France.
DIGA is another software solution that we offer. It is a digital assistant that the doctors use to prescribe a patient a certain medical application and when the patient uses it, the doctor will have access to all the medical information.
Another product is LIFE, a personal health record, where both the patient and the doctor can add all the medical documents. The patients can create lists with their favorite doctors and also, they can ask for a medical certificate.
ClickDoc Pro is a platform for medical professionals, where they can manage calendars, patients and rooms, where they can import and export information, see statistics and manage the insurance system.
Why do you think eHealth is so important, especially nowadays?
Now that the healthcare industry is open to change with all of its regulations (and there are a lot) means that the opportunity for impact is greater than elsewhere. eHealth is key for a simple reason. All of us have one life, and our health is our one commodity that we need to take care of. If we don't do well, that’s it, game over. There is nothing that can pop up and magically fix things. eHealth and connectivity helps us in this way exactly. It makes taking care and looking after our health easier, quicker and more targeted than ever. When we interconnect all segments of our life and have a proper e2e view about our health and how we can tackle our own challenges it truly becomes amazing with what we can unlock.
To add another thought, we are not only helping the users/patients in this case, but we are supporting doctors. Allowing them to focus more on what is important for them. Our company’s founder said “Nobody should suffer or die because at some point medical information was missing” is truer than ever. Having access to the right information at the right time and place with the most minimal effort can be the differentiator in saving lives. More and more lives.
How do you find Iași city and the IT industry here?
I think the city of Iasi is beautiful. I fell in love with it immediately. I remember the first time I was leaving, I felt emotional and sad. Somehow this feeling has stayed and every time when I drive to the airport I wish that this trip could have been a little longer, that I could have done a little more.
The IT industry is hyper dynamic now, I think the right word would be crazy. It is interesting to see how each company is trying to tackle this situation. I think that those that are truly bold, whiling and committed will come out stronger than before. So we plan on doing just that.
You can find out more about Chris and his team at CGM Romania if you visit www.cgm.com/ro or, simply, if you make us a visit in Iași, Chimiei 2A Street. Don`t forget that Chris has his door always open and he is eager to meet with you. Of course, if you are ready to be a part of the eHealth revolution and have fun with the amazing CGM team.
PS: If you prefer reading this article on paper, you should know that you can find the discussion with Chris inside the pages of the PIN Magazine, November Edition.