At the start of this year our Operations Director James Blyth celebrated his 20 year work anniversary at Coplus. James looked back over his career so far, the highlights and the lessons learnt.
How different is the Coplus of today from when you started here?
I’m the 6th longest serving member of staff, which is saying something that another 5 people have also been here for even longer than me! My first day on 4th January 2000 I sat at my desk which was in the loft conversion of a bungalow on the outskirts of Norwich.
I’m not sure I imagined that I would still be working for the business 20 years later but over this time there have been so many new challenges and opportunities I’ve certainly never been bored.
The business I joined was ambitious and my colleagues were driven by a great work ethic, ready for whatever came their way. That ethos is still evident at Coplus today. So whilst my desk and office space has certainly had an upgrade the motivation to keep getting better is still the same.
What is it that keeps you coming back for more?
The legal market has undergone many changes in the time I’ve been with Coplus. Adapting our business within the market to continue to be relevant and valuable to our customers has been one of the things that has kept it interesting.
Access to Justice and the Civil Procedure Rules came into effect in 1999 and then there were further changes 10 years later from the Jackson Review, followed by LASPO in 2013. Most recently we’ve adapted our strategy and operations ahead of the changes brought by the Civil Liability Act and will continue to do so in order that our insurer and broker partners have the right solutions for their customers.
I’ve been very fortunate to be part of several big operations projects here too; four office moves in 20 years, the last one in 2017 being by far the biggest, the implementation of two new claims management systems and two telephony system moves – and 19 Christmas parties! All of these projects (except the Christmas Parties which is just an excuse to let our hair down!) has propelled the company forward.
When I think about the technology we were using back in 2000 it’s just unrecognisable to what we do today. Our IT team has grown three fold in the last couple of years, from the launch of our latest claims management system in 2017 we’ve continued to roll out new tools which improve our efficiency and the customer journey.
Overall what’s kept me engaged is working for a business that continues to invest in me, the team and the infrastructure, supporting us all in bringing our ideas to life.
What advice would you give to your younger self in 2000?
Be the owl not the fox, understanding the difference between being wise and being smart has been a powerful lesson to me. Think about your audience and make sure you put your point across in a way that they will understand. This gives you the best chance to demonstrate your knowledge.
Understanding your numbers is essential. In order to be wise, to make good decisions, you need to quantify the problem and that’s how you will be able to show the tangible, positive impact of your actions.
Don’t be afraid to fail (just not too many times!). If you run the numbers, have a plan and then execute, it might not work, but what you learn from that experience is just as important – possibly even more so – than when everything goes as you hoped. The experience will help you tackle things differently next time.
Finally younger self, I would say that Christmas Party pictures will stay with you for years and years and in your colleagues’ memories even longer!