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Getting to know: James Collins

Understandably, times are hard right now and many businesses are working from home, team Xalient included. We thought we would open the door into some of the teams’ homes, today we have Head of Project Operations, James Collins.

What is your working-from-home routine?

Week 6 of quarantine. I would like to be voted off the island now! And even if I didn’t want to be voted off, I’m pretty sure my wife would vote me off!

Working remotely has removed my commute time and reduced my weekly ironing pile (I’m not kidding, my wife would burn her hands if she picked up the iron).  So, you would think free time was in abundance. However, with our daughter also out of school, the balance between work and homeschooling is challenging, especially when my wife’s job is just as demanding as mine. The wider world and the Xalient Team are providing great support in this regard – whether it be Joe Wicks’ 0900 daily PE lesson (I’m sure I’m aching more than my daughter!), Sue McLure’s daily water cooler challenge or Donna Moor’s Friday Virtual Pub (no shop talk allowed). All these events help to keep us feeling connected with the team in a situation that could easily see people struggle with social isolation.

The day begins with a hearty breakfast of Eggs Quarantine.  Yes, total dad joke and I’m not apologising! To get the day started I find it easier to prepare as if I were leaving the house to drop my daughter off at school and travel to work. The demands of the job haven’t changed although I now have the added challenge of trying to allocate segments of the day to reading blending letters into words, Doodle Math’s and handwriting practice.  Thankfully, I split this workload with my wife.

After lunch, my daughter, wife and I try to go for a walk. We all need this, even if only a short trek around the garden. Luckily, the UK is having an uncharacteristically warm spell so there really isn’t any excuse not to get out.

I originally thought that with most of the country in lockdown and having to work from home, the pace of work would slow down. From my experience so far, this has not been the case as most of our customers have initiated or are moving to invoke their Business Continuity Plans. The planning for this and subsequent network and security changes are reliant on Xalient so now we are as busy as ever. I am also assuming that other customers will look to engage us for this type of support going forward.

And what would your advice be for those who aren’t used to working from home?

Get dressed. Don’t make the mistake of not making the transition from night clothes to day clothes. We all need that clear break. This should be reversed too when you have finished work. Ensure you switch off!  

Get outside. Even if only once a day for 20 minutes in the garden. This really is a must as getting outside works wonders for your sanity!  

Staying connected with the team. An email checking in, a phone call or a video conference (with a smile) will all help to keep us sane for the next couple of months.

If you have any downtime, then start to action those jobs around the house you have been putting off. Decking the loft, painting that windowsill or clearing the garden of weeds (just some of my list currently). With the additional daylight we have at the minute, and no commute from work back to our homes, we should use that hour or so of time.

Volunteer. The NHS is asking for help, so we all have the chance to volunteer and do our bit for the community and country in this unprecedented time.


As a Head of Project Operations, what tools do you find useful when working from home?

Skype/Teams and SharePoint have proven invaluable for collaboration to keep our customer projects moving forward and us connected as a team.


Xalient has introduced a Quaranteam scheme to encourage employees to take on a new challenge while working from home.

What is your challenge?

My challenge is to stop being awesome, for a week. It is very unlikely I will achieve this.


And finally, we want to offer you the opportunity to use our platform to send a message to all the amazing people out there fighting to keep us safe:

‘A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in’ – Greek Proverb

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Portrait of Mark Foulsham, Board Advisor, NED, COO/CIO, Fractional Support, Digital Leadership Coach

Mark Foulsham

Board Advisor, NED, COO/CIO, Fractional Support, Digital Leadership Coach

With a broad background as a COO/CIO/CDO, C-Suite Advisor, NED, Senior Transformation Leader and Coach, Mark tackles multiple fronts from the advantage of diverse experience in business operations, technology, procurement, delivery and risk. With a deep knowledge of business models from multiple sectors and extensive experience in fast-paced digital start-ups.

Mark’s work across extensive business types, functions and countries empowers him with experience to bear across silos. Mark has built a reputation for advocating cross-business collaboration, taking a pragmatic approach and championing transformative change.