Paul Turley, director of ServiceNow, shares his life and business lessons.
Turley is responsible for ServiceNow’s business in Ireland. His day-to-day includes managing sales, coordinating with the wider team on marketing and PR, and scaling ServiceNow’s business in Ireland.
He works directly with customers and partners to ensure they get maximum value out of ServiceNow technology. He also works closely with the public sector to align with the Connected Government 2030 strategy aiming to enable Ireland’s public services to interoperate within and across organisations and third parties.
“A core value at ServiceNow is that we strive to be both hungry and humble, so we seek to permeate that through our teams”
ServiceNow is a global software business that helps organisations optimise their workflows via the cloud. The technology is used by 85% of Fortune 500 companies.
Tell us about your background, what journey did you take to arrive at where you are?
I studied engineering at UCD and was fortunate enough to be accepted into the Enterprise Ireland Graduate Program. It was the first year engineers were hired onto the program, and I was sent to the Copenhagen office for two years to work with lots of Irish software start-ups to help them establish routes to market in Scandinavia.
Following that, I worked with Baltimore Technologies as they scaled, then HP and Micro Focus running their Irish and UK commercial software businesses. Now I’m at ServiceNow, where we’re scaling the ServiceNow business in Ireland.
Why are you doing what you are doing? What need are you meeting? What’s your USP?
End users – be they, employees, customers or citizens – now expect a consumer-grade experience when using technology. The pandemic accelerated this, and users no longer accept subpar experiences from their service providers or employers.
ServiceNow enables organisations to offer seamless, consumer-grade user experiences to their staff and customers by digitising and automating siloed processes across systems.
Our USP is that we allow organisations to improve customer and employee experience while simultaneously reducing the costs and complexity associated with legacy IT systems.
“I had jobs from the age of 13, mainly on building sites. So, aside from learning how to play cards, I learned a lot of life lessons, including that a job is only worth doing if it’s done 100%– especially when it comes to mixing mortar for grumpy blocklayers!”
What are your growth plans?
ServiceNow was founded in 2004 and, through 100% organic growth, has scaled to a $7bn business. The company started out as a provider of IT Service Management software, which made it easier and more efficient for end users to log issues with their IT department.
ServiceNow evolved in response to customer needs and demands. It’s now an end-to-end platform for digital transformation across any area of a business, be that Global Business Service, HR, Customer Service, Legal or IT. Everything is on a single, unified platform.
In Ireland, we are growing exponentially as customers seek to simplify their businesses, drive customer and employee experience (so-called Total Experience) and drive down costs all at the same time.
“The biggest challenge in Ireland right now is hiring people, and that’s linked to societal challenges like housing and cost of living”
What are your key skills and qualities that set you apart?
My role is to facilitate our team, our customers and our partners to be successful. It’s that simple. If I get in the way of any of that, I am not doing my job.
A core value at ServiceNow is that we strive to be both hungry and humble, so we seek to permeate that through our teams.
What sets our team apart is a relentless focus on our customers. We strive to perform to the highest standards for them every day. Our main goal is to implement our technology in a way that makes them successful.
What (or whom) has helped you most along the way? Who was your greatest mentor/inspiration?
I would have to say, my parents. I was the eldest of four children, and they encouraged me to work hard and always do my best from an early age.
I had jobs from the age of 13, mainly on building sites. So, aside from learning how to play cards, I learned a lot of life lessons, including that a job is only worth doing if it’s done 100%– especially when it comes to mixing mortar for grumpy blocklayers!
What was the greatest piece of business advice you ever received?
Never refuse an invitation to anything, as you never know who you will meet.
What circumstances/qualities/events can mark the difference between success or failure in life or business?
I think you need to be humble enough to never be afraid of admitting when you’ve made a mistake, to learn from it and apply those learnings. As my mother often says, “Life is a bed of roses, but roses have thorns”.
What was the most challenging aspect of either starting or growing the business?
The biggest challenge in Ireland right now is hiring people, and that’s linked to societal challenges like housing and cost of living. Since the pandemic, there’s been a widespread reluctance to change careers, as many people are happy with how their lives are set up.
ServiceNow embraces hybrid working and flexibility, but there is still massive value in bringing people together to collaborate and network. The Irish are the greatest networkers in the world, bar none, so we need to always remember that and use our skills.
“I believe things happen for a reason, so I tend not to get upset if they don’t go to plan”
How has digital transformation been a factor in your scaling journey and do you believe Irish firms are utilising digital technologies sufficiently?
The truth is that digital transformation is our business, so the drive that all organisations have to transform fuels our growth and success.
Our customers are transforming because they know that if they don’t, they’ll become irrelevant in the medium to long term.
As a business, we leverage our technology to make our employees’ experiences as seamless as possible. So everything I need to do in my work life can be done digitally.
If you were to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Without sounding flippant, not a lot. I believe things happen for a reason, so I tend not to get upset if they don’t go to plan. I wanted to be a lawyer when I was in school, but that didn’t work out, so I ended up studying engineering and going down a totally different path.
Who inspires you in business today?
Our CEO, Bill McDermott, is exceptionally inspiring and a large part of why I joined ServiceNow. He announced last week that he wants to have his best year ever – and he’s 63 years old. That in itself is inspiring when you think about the career he’s had.
I also like some of the things that Simon Sinek, author and founder of The Curve, writes about when it comes to leadership.
“Meet everyone you can and trust your gut”
What advice/guidance do you give new hires and how do you nurture talent in your organisation?
Network, network, network. You can never know enough people who can help you get things done. Also, I always encourage people to understand how our technology helps businesses by reading case studies and being able to relay those stories to inspire others.
What business books do you read or would recommend?
I have a young family, so I don’t have much time for reading between work and ferrying them to various sporting events. That said, I generally rattle through a few books when I’m on holiday.
I am currently reading ‘Never Split The Difference’ by Chris Voss, which I’ve found particularly interesting. I also love anything by Malcolm Gladwell and Michael Lewis, so I’ve read many of their books over the years.
I also like to listen to business podcasts such as ‘The Innovation Show’ and ‘The High Performance Podcast’.
What technologies/tools do you use personally to keep you on track?
Too many is the answer! My calendar is the main source for keeping track of appointments. I use OneNote for notes. One of our team bought a reMarkable tablet which looks pretty cool.
What social media platforms do you prefer and why?
Very few. LinkedIn is about it.
What are your thoughts on where technology overall is heading and how it will apply to business generally and your business particularly?
AI has been talked about for some time, but it still has enormous scope to make our lives more efficient and eliminate the mundane work many of us have to grapple with. The recent spike in usage and talk about tools like ChatGPT, is clearly both scary and exciting at the same time.
The facilitation for industries to collaborate more through data and integrated workflows while maintaining the highest security standards is an opportunity to transform how we live our lives and treat the planet.
Finally, if you had advice for your 21-year-old self – knowing what you know now – what would it be?
Meet everyone you can and trust your gut.