Meet the team – Tim Chisnall

Cognition24’s managing director, Tim Chisnall, describes how he spends his days (spoiler alert – he’s busy!), the projects he’s most proud of, and why helping others is his priority.

What is your day-to-day role?

I have three roles. Firstly, I’m still very much involved in projects. At least three hours a day is spent on project calls. I don’t know if I’ll have the time to do that forever, but I like being involved where I can, making sure the customer is happy.

My second role is on the operational side: office admin, HR, payroll and working with the marketing team on campaigns. It’s a combination of the strategic – where’s the business going – and the tactical, internal operational stuff – what are we doing today? What changes do we need to make to our own systems?

The third part of my job is new business development. This involves talking to customers, engaging people via social media and LinkedIn and understanding our current customer base. I also look at customers we’ve previously worked with and think about how we can re-engage with them.

In addition to this, I spend about 10 per cent of my time working on future products, particularly around Web3 technologies.

How do decide which projects you’re going to be involved with?

It depends on the engagement. For example, we took on a huge project in the US last year, but my skill set wasn’t right, so there was no benefit in me being directly involved.

What I’m good at is getting to grips with projects where a customer has a variety of problems or challenges across departments. One of my key strengths is the ability to take a step back, assess and understand where they are.

It would be easy to take our projects for granted, but our customers are lovely people and I want to help them. One of our projects is for Hertfordshire’s homeless students and we’ve just implemented a Salesforce org for a bereavement charity. That’s really important work. By getting involved myself, I can help improve the service, which ultimately improves those disadvantaged people in society.

How do you work with the rest of the team?

We have an experienced team who I trust and know I can depend on. I like to be in control, but hopefully I’m not a control freak! I like to know what’s going on and might give a little nudge here and there, but I don’t need to be overly involved.

If I’m worried about something, I’ll ask the team what they think about it, what they think we should be doing, or how else we could be doing something. If they’ve done something similar before, I’ll ask their advice on the best way to do it. We all share the knowledge we have with each other to benefit our projects and customers.

What are you most proud of having achieved at Cognition?

Number one is definitely the team. I had a group of people with amazing skills, but originally they didn’t have any knowledge of Salesforce. Now they’re teaching other people how to use Salesforce, be that a new employee or a customer.

Number two, I think we’ve done some really valuable work. OK, a CRM system isn’t going to save the planet, but when you make some small changes to a business such as Herts Young Homeless, or any of the other charities we’ve done work for, we’ve saved them money and time. They’re the only commodities they’ve got. By saving them money and time, those resources can be put back into the service.

We’re a nice company and we do business the right way. I’ve got a lot of benefit personally and professionally out of those relationships over the years. Some of our clients have been with us for years. I’m working with people who I’ve known for 30 years. Those relationships are the things I’m proud of.

What are you most proud of?

I get something out of every project, even the ones that don’t necessarily go the way I expected them to. We worked with Diageo, which ended up being a huge learning curve for me. It was a very complex environment and we architected something for them they hadn’t considered before. It took them from a certain way of operating to a new way of thinking. I’m pretty proud of that.

Some of the companies we’ve helped started off as one- or two-person bands and are now big companies. And our little CRM system we put in all those years ago has helped that journey. When I reflect on projects I’m proud of, I don’t think about how much we earnt from them, I think about the ones where we really helped and made a difference.

I can find something I’m proud of in every project we’ve done. And I’m particularly proud of the long-running projects because it shows how much those clients trusts us. We’re trusted with their valuable data, their valuable systems, their employee relations and their customer relationships.

What have been the biggest challenges?

When I think about how or what we did in some of the early projects, I know I wouldn’t do it that way now. For example, silly things like sitting up on a customer call at two in the morning because you feel the need to get it done. Looking back, I can see we didn’t we need to do it at 2am. The next day at 9am would have been fine!

And sometimes it’s about personalities. Sometimes you get on well with people and you find them easy to work with. Other relationships can be challenging. Change is difficult and some people find it hard to implement. We can advise, we can guide, we can demonstrate, but we can’t enforce that change if they resist it. Everyone goes on their own learning journey. People learn in different ways and organisations are the same. The bigger the organisation, the bigger a ship it is to turn around.

How did lockdown impact the company?

Two things happened. Firstly, there were a couple of projects that happened purely because of lockdown.

We built a system for Norfolk County Council which allowed them to track Covid cases within the organisation. This was at the start of the pandemic when we didn’t know what this virus was or if vaccines were ever going to be invented. So, it was really important work. The council had to function and the tool we built help them function more quickly.

Outside of work, I got involved in a local project called Leighton-Linslade Helpers. They put a call out on social media asking for people to help organise food collection deliveries. I got involved with my tech hat on and within 24 hours we’d mobilised 30 people, all DBS checked, who were able to go out and collect and deliver food to vulnerable people. Now it’s a food bank operation serving hundreds of people in the community. That was a very rewarding and positive way to channel my work energy.

What does Cognition24 mean to you?

Having a vehicle like Cognition24 to fulfil my goals and ambitions is a real privilege. Not everyone gets that chance.

But no one sits on a one-legged stool. It’s the people around me that have made it possible. Be that a friend offering some sage advice, my wife understanding why I’m missing dinner again or my daughter letting me share “her” computer room. They are all part of that journey, particularly the Cognition24 team. They all give their time and support and without that, they’d be no company.

Share this:

Next Post:

News Archive