From university best mates to running a North American business – Life at Reveal Group ft. Xavier Hanson and Jamie Fisher
What was your life like before Reveal Group?
Xavier: I was an osteopath first. It’s what I went to school for, but after a few years, I left osteo because it felt like the same thing every day. I tried to become a pilot in the Air Force. I almost made it, but then I aged out of the pool, and while the Army & Navy offered me a spot, the Air Force never called me. I came across a tech support job at an audiobook company. I thought – this is how my naïve, young brain went – ‘I can figure out how business works. I’ll take a pay cut for a tech job and work my way out.’ I learned a lot – taught myself SQL, and by the time I finished there, I’d become a proper BA [business analyst]. I did a lot of optimization automation with SQL, databases, some SAP scripting etc. I was there for 2 years. Then, nepotism kicked in.
Paula [Reveal Group COO], being my aunt, heard what I was doing, and we discussed it at a family event. I told her and Ian the kinds of things I was doing at my job. They’re like, ‘oh, we need somebody like that – someone who can understand the technical stuff and can also work with people. A few months later they offered me a job. I was grateful for the offer; but the meeting where they asked me made me late for my birthday lunch. By the time I got there, my family had eaten all my favorite foods. I still hold that against them.
Jamie: I was a petroleum engineer. I used to live on the rigs and plunder the ocean for sweet crude. I lived in a little village in Africa before moving back to Australia and getting my master’s in petroleum engineering. One thing led to another, and I ended up consulting. I was in Sydney interviewing with another management consulting company and met up with an old friend named Xavier. He said, ‘Do you remember my aunty Paula and uncle Ian? Well, I work for them now. You should come work here too.’ I went back to Melbourne and met with Paula. The meeting with her went well and when Reveal Group won a big global project, I got an offer from Paula.
Xavier: I believe you were renovating your mother’s bathroom if I’m correct.
Jamie: Actually, that’s also true. When I interviewed with Ian, I remember I had waterproof paint all over my hand. I couldn’t start at Reveal halfway through renovating my mother’s bathroom.
Xavier: Ian’s one knock on you was that they didn’t like your Aussie country accent.
Xavier: Yeah, when I heard that, I thought, ‘have they ever spoken to me?’ The funny thing was, about a year later, when Ian wrote Jamie’s consultant profile, he praised Jamie’s excellent bedside manner. He said that was why clients loved him.
What made you want to work at Reveal Group?
Xavier: The work I was doing at the publishing company was good, but I had an upper limit. Reveal was a new opportunity that would let me expand my horizons, and the job involved international travel. There was a fair bit of scope to grow and learn about business. I was also interested in Reveal from a work culture perspective. I met Ben [one of the Partners], and we hit it off straight away.
Jamie: So, I did the Blue Prism Foundation Training during the hiring process. Honestly, I didn’t understand where the whole thing was going, like what my place at Reveal Group could be. I saw the opportunity to use my experience with the business side of engineering. I was always going into something more focused on the process and operational excellence, a sort of Lean 6 Sigma side. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it would be technology driven.
Xavier: I reckon the origin story of us working together starts at university.
Jamie: We worked together at two jobs before Reveal Group. We put together show bags for events like the Australian versions of U.S. state fairs. You get a bag of candy and little toys and gifts. The other job we used to do together was delivering salad to Subways around Melbourne.
Xavier: We would share a truck and do the same routes on different days. That’s the best job I’ve ever had. It was always about optimizing the route efficiency. I reckon I’ll end up back there at some point.
Why did you want to move to the U.S.?
Jamie: Because I was sick of flying back and forth.
Xavier: Well, Paula told me Jamie went first because she’s terrified of my mother. [Paula] didn’t want to tell my mum that she was moving me across to other side of the world. Whether that’s true or Paula was embellishing it for fun, I don’t know. But seriously, I came to New York for a friend’s wedding several years ago. It was my first time in New York. I’m from the country and never really liked cities, but I remember walking around and thinking, ‘I really want to live here one day.’ So, when I got the opportunity, I took it.
What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment, and what are you most proud of?
Xavier: Okay, so Jamie’s most significant accomplishment is building the North American business. Mine was to convince Ian and Paula to hire Jamie.
But I guess if I had to give a professional answer, I’d say I’m most proud of our ability to get out of the way while people grow. I’m proud of the culture, but I don’t think it’s ours to own. We set up an atmosphere where people could thrive. The culture itself is now so democratized it’s not like we can be proud of setting it up directly, I don’t know if we were conscious of it. It’s kind of its own thing. It’s been good to have an atmosphere where we’ve been able to watch many people grow very rapidly – far beyond us, to be quite honest.
What does life at Reveal Group mean to you?
Xavier: It’d be a shorter answer to say what life outside Reveal Group means to me.
Jamie: It doesn’t really exist, so…
Xavier: Reveal Group changed me personally as much as professionally over the years and because of that it’s hard to distinguish between the two. Their fates – mine and Reveal’s – are intertwined so much. It’s incredible.
Jamie: I feel like, for me, my answer is it means a hell of a lot – so much that I’ve moved internationally twice for it.
Xavier: I mean, I’ve only moved once.
Jamie: Yeah, but you moved your dogs.
Xavier: Everybody here is so damn competent and wants to do better all the time. Whatever role we’ve had in making the company what it is culturally, it makes us want to be better every day because everybody’s got the same mindset.
What do you see for you and your future at Reveal Group?
Xavier: For our future at Reveal Group, we’ll do whatever our leadership group tells us to do. When they’ve had enough of us, we’ll duck out. In terms of our personal future, we always talk about farming. Maybe we’ll go back to agriculture.
Jamie: Or get a truck and start delivering salad again.
Xavier: Well yeah, obviously. But for real, we’ll continue to grow and reveal how we are, and that’s where all my joy comes from. I just like having a bunch of people who like doing a whole bunch of good work.
Xave and Jamie’s journey… from the founders’ chair
Why did you want Jamie and Xavier to join Reveal Group?
Paula: Xavier obviously came first. Although he was an osteopath, he had always shown a passion for technology – he’s enthusiastic and smart about applying it to everything he had at home. He had a personality that could light up a room.
I’m obviously not going to say he’s my favorite nephew, but he certainly had a lot to give. We didn’t want to distract him from whatever his life mission was. He had tried out to be a fighter jet pilot and had made it all the way to selection. We thought that was his path, so I backed off asking him if he would like to join the company. Then, he got thrown out at the last minute for being too old after all his training. He was at a decision point in his life, and we just put the offer out there – ‘If you’d like to join us at the time, this what we’re doing; it’s process work called OpsIQ.’ And he jumped at it.
He did a lot of OpsIQ work beforehand. We didn’t employ him to do RPA. We employed him to do process work.
Ian: But Xavier was the first or second to do RPA.
Paula: Yeah, he got pulled into that just because he was there and loved it – he loves it all. He’s basically written his own journey. He’s grabbed everything we’ve given him and made it a success.
Ian: Then he wrapped in Jamie.
Paula: We were introduced to Jamie by Xavier when they were at university. Jamie worked on the oil rigs doing big projects and multi-million-dollar program management. He was sick of traveling; like Xavier, he was at a pivot point in his career. Good thing we needed project managers then, and Xavier said Jamie might be good.
Jamie’s niche, so he didn’t lean towards the technical like Xavier naturally did. But because of that, he complimented Xavier with his process and operational-based focus.
Ian: Xavier and Jamie were Senior Managers when we hired them, but mentally they were already Principals.
What have Jamie and Xavier done that you’re most proud of or impressed by?
Ian: They both built the team here and strongly influenced the company culture.
Paul: I think that’s what makes the U.S. and Canadian team strong and passionate. They lead from the front. They live and breathe the culture. You don’t get that by mistake. That’s coming from the two of them. For the last two years with COVID, it’s been exceptionally hard to do that via video link. They’ve done an outstanding job keeping the show on the road, keeping the team together, and doing excellent client work. I’m very proud of the fact that they’ve been able to hold it all together with us back in Australia.
Ian: They’re both straight shooters. We didn’t have the end in mind when they started. It’s gone from them building on one success to the next, just blossoming. We opened the door a crack, and they’ve gone through it and just made of it what they have.
What do you see for them and their futures at Reveal?
Paula: They’ve got a huge future in front of them. The team and the business in North America will drastically expand, and they will naturally grow with that. But who knows from here.
Ian: When we first started, there was nothing. It was just uniquely the combination of Xavier and Jamie’s skills, aptitude, and knowledge depth that got them here. They’ve developed by working with each other, which will likely take them forward.
Paula: I didn’t write their story at the beginning, and I’m not about to write their story now. They got a tremendous work ethic, so they’ll write the next chapter themselves.
Ian: It’s a good story. It’s a good success story.
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