Life at Reveal Group
Nicolas Payeur, Senior Manager
Based in Montreal, Canada
What is your story? How did your journey lead you to Reveal Group?
I studied Actuarial Mathematics and Finance at Concordia University, in Montreal. One of the exciting things about this program was that you had easy access to internships, especially when you managed to pass a few of the exams from the Society of Actuaries. I passes two of them in my first year of university, which landed me an internship at a small private insurance company.
For my internship project, the company wanted me to build automation using VBA, the coding language behind Excel, which frankly I didn’t even know existed at the time. To prepare, I read two books on excel that summer. Said like that, it sounds boring, haha, but there was something about learning a new software that really excited me and I just fell in love with it. For the next three years, I kept building VBA tools for this company and eventually switched to their asset management department to help with their trading tools and to sync reports with their Bloomberg terminals. Through a bit of luck, I got a job within the insurance and actuarial advisory services division of one of the big 4 accounting firms, out of Chicago. It was during my time there that I first got introduced to RPA in 2016. That’s when I realized “Oh my God this is so incredible! I can automate stuff on any system now!”. I dove in headfirst into this realm and was part of a project team tasked with doing the first North American RPA implementation within an Actuarial division of an insurance company. I eventually became a part of the go-to-market strategy team but we didn’t gain much traction despite all our efforts. Clients were buying RPA software solutions but they weren’t making their way down to the Actuarial departments. I began doing work I wasn’t enjoying and started looking for new opportunities. Then one day, a message pops into my inbox asking me if I was interested in an opportunity with a boutique RPA consulting company starting its operations in the US. Dream come true! I joined Reveal Group in November 2018 and haven’t looked back since!
What does your role at Reveal Group entail?
I’ve always been in a position where I’ve supported the team building a solution or working together with a team building them. My main focus within Reveal Group is working on building capability within our teams and our clients, to drive successful outcomes. That entails helping companies set up sustainable Intelligent Automation (IA) programs and providing them with tools and guidance such that they can realize the true benefits of automation. This part of our business model really excites me because people with various backgrounds come into our world, having no understanding of what RPA is, and you are there to show them the ropes. Over time, with your guidance and their gradual confidence in using the solutions, they learn how to utilize the skills you’ve taught them and can become self-sufficient. The most meaningful part about this aspect is when you have clients that reach out to you and let you know “Hey! Since you guys left, we’ve done these 3-5 super complex automations and we were able to automate them within a few weeks. We can’t thank you guys enough!” I think that is the most gratifying part of my role –enabling others to be successful. I think that shines through everyone at Reveal Group; we work as a big global team, we are always making sure that people are set up to grow within the company (i.e. Mentorship Program). We are constantly supporting each other through our culture. It’s amazing to see not only clients, but your fellow team members succeed.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My typical day starts with collaboration. I’m supporting a lot of initiatives and so I’m constantly working with groups of people from Quebec, Canada, the U.S. and even Australia. We have a lot of innovative and creative talents within our team, and I’m there to support them in bringing our best solutions to our clients. At Reveal Group, Quality is a critical part of our DNA and therefore a lot of my time is spent on ensuring that our knowledge and standards are shared and well understood across our whole company, to deliver the highest quality work we possibly can, on every engagement. My days are usually filled with meetings, but I get to hear challenges/success stories from people, and in return, it helps me enable the team and clients to grow. You can never predict what your week will even look like in this industry, but that keeps everything exciting for me.
What do you see on the horizon for Reveal Group and more broadly, what excites you in the Intelligent Automation space?
I like to think of Reveal Group as surfers: when the company was launched, we started and surfed the workforce management & operational excellence wave because we saw a need in the market there. While surfing that wave, in 2015, we saw the RPA wave on the horizon and thought “Wow, it looks huge! We should try to catch it”. Luckily for us, we did, and are still riding this one steady and in style. With the disruption caused by COVID these past few years, companies have had to rethink the way work should be done and accommodate their remote atmosphere. This led to an impressive uptick in AI/Machine Learning enabled technology development, which I find very exciting. Like with the initial RPA days, a lot of these look good in the distance, but they may end up being a “closeout” wave. So that’s why we send our most experienced surfers (i.e., our innovation team) to test these new waters, find the right entry points and report back to the larger group.
I think any technology that has a good AI or machine learning element is going to be more efficient going forward. We’ve seen rapid growth in RPA programs because you can train business people to use this technology well and the use cases are based on clearly defined rules. When you start going into the machine learning enabled side of technologies, things aren’t as black and white. I think people have a harder time trusting these technologies because there’s now a level of accuracy in the solution that is less than 100%, and there’s not always a right answer. The use cases can also be pretty much anything, it just depends on how good the model is going to be. When we go to a clients and say “we tested this model and it’s accurate at 95%”, they will usually ask you “What about the other 5%”; “how can we trust this will remain the same going forward?”. More and more companies are reaping the benefits of these new techs, but I think for a lot of people, it will come down to getting comfortable with uncertainty. From my experience, this is a much smoother process if you are setting up the right governance and delivery standards.
What are some of the misconceptions about implementing a digital workforce?
I think a big misconception is the thinking that Implementing RPA is easy and that anybody can do it on their own. A lot of companies that were steered astray into this belief have been burned, and their RPA program barely made it off the ground. Although this technology is easier to learn than traditional programming languages, given the low-code configuration requirements, there are still a vast amount of configuration standards that should be followed. A good comparison would be MS Excel: Excel is a tool that most people would qualify as “easy to use and for anyone” (it’s on most people’s computers by default after all). However, how many people can build advanced Excel solutions that can meet complex business requirements, that display the information is in the right place, with the right format and never breaks? Quite a bit less…
Most people also forget that the “code” is only one part of the equation. There’s a very important change management component to an RPA solution, as you are now changing the way that your employees are performing their work. Preparing the business team for this transition can’t be underestimated, and that’s why we strongly recommend companies to work with an experienced and certified implementation partner to get started on the right foot.
What advice would you give to someone looking into a career in Intelligent Automation?
You need to first ask yourself if this is for you. You gotta want to get your hands dirty and need to be a person that enjoys exploring new, semi-uncharted territories. Our new hires are all people that have the ability to learn and have the drive to do it rapidly. The more you learn, the easier it is for you to keep on learning – register to a business, change management or data science course, download the community edition of your software of choice and get certified, etc. There are so many free resources available for you to get a head start in this field. It’s just a matter of how much you really want it. Get your hands dirty and never stop trying.
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