An interview with Bob Dunn: Hyland’s associate vice president of EMEA and APAC

As the Hyland Summit | EMEA approaches, I thought it would be perfect timing to interview Bob Dunn, Hyland’s associate vice president of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa as well as the Asia-Pacific region.

Since Hyland promoted him to this position, Dunn has put forth great efforts in driving growth and cultivating a work-life balance in the many offices he oversees. To do so, one of his main goals is to establish healthy environments in these offices similar to our headquarters in Westlake, Ohio.

Albeit without the slides, diners, and basketball/volleyball court. But we’ll talk more about work-life balance later.

Driving growth in EMEA and APAC

Though we have offices all over the world and have been a ‘Leader’ in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms for a while now, in the markets outside of the United States, we’re just now becoming a major international player. I work in the U.S. marketplace, but I’m interested in hearing about the opportunities that are creating growth internationally, so I started our chat there.

“The markets I cover can be very different,” said Dunn. “By and large, we are really experiencing the same market opportunities as the States by way of commercial opportunities, production, back office, horizontal applications, and accounts payable solutions.”

Dunn also mentioned that construction is very big in APAC, and education is also a niche market there.

“We’re also seeing a big push towards case management. That’s become more of a driver than even workflow, which was a driver five years ago,” said Dunn. “Contract management is also becoming more prevalent, as are point solutions, which are what we’re seeing as market drivers for our industry in both APAC and EMEA.”

Another aspect of these markets is demand for a custom interface, as the EMEA/APAC region is quick to embrace the latest and greatest interface technologies.

Since 1991, one of our core values has been treating customers like partners. A big part of that is listening. So we listened to what we were hearing and built a custom interface for the region.

Next, we chatted about how General Data Protection Regulation is relatively new and is so important because it affects any business that deals with data relating to individuals in the European Union. Dunn noted that GDPR is the focus in the regions he oversees and how we’re perfectly aligned to support these compliance initiatives.

Ensuring a healthy work environment

Back in 1991, Hyland was a small, family business. But as we’ve grown, a healthy environment and work-life balance has remained important. Sometimes, that means giving people the freedom to work remotely.

“I work in the London office,” Dunn told me, “but not every single day because I travel quite a bit. I also work from my home office a couple days a week.”

Dunn notes that because London is so spread out, the average commute time for employees is almost two hours each way.

“To give people more time in the day, we allow them to work remotely. That’s why we have such a variance of people coming in – anywhere from five to 30 people are in the London office on a given day,” said Dunn.

“Do you have any tips for balancing personal and professional life?” I asked.

“I might be a little bit different. As I said, I work from home a couple a days a week. That’s because my wife and I are living here as expats, and previously, we were expats in Australia,” said Dunn. “My commitment to my wife before we even agreed to going to Sydney, Australia, was that I would try to work from home a couple of days a week so that I’m there. Sometimes, I’ll try to knock off from work around three o’clock so that we can go walk around the city or have happy hour. For me, that’s a specific work-life balance that I try to achieve because I do travel quite a bit, especially now that I’m visiting a different office every month.”

Obviously, work-place culture differs to some degree across the various regions and offices. In the EMEA region alone, we have seven offices. I was curious about how things differ and how they’re the same.

“As an example, if you were to look at the culture in Berlin versus London, it’s difficult to compare the two,” said Dunn. “The Berlin office includes employees, most of whom work directly in the office, while the London office includes mostly remote employees. As a result, the team in Berlin has much more face time and opportunities to collaborate in person. Conversely, the team in London communicates more via Zoom, so when we do get together for the monthly meeting, it is like a party atmosphere in the office. It is quite fun to watch, because you can really see how much the Brits enjoy spending time together, even if it is not a daily event.”

That’s exactly what living the #HylandLife is all about.

“One of the big things I’ve tried to concentrate on in London, which was one of the things I focused heavily on while in Sydney, is helping build and maintain a great office culture,” Dunn told me. “The monthly all-employee meeting is a big part of that, as it provides a great opportunity to share information and collaborate.”

To help employees get to know each other better, Dunn also started the “Get to know your fellow employee” program where one employee each month gives a presentation to introduce themselves to their fellow teammates. He also started a regional Kudos program while in Australia which has now carried over to the EMEA region. It is an opportunity for the employees to recognize their fellow workmates, and each of the nominations is read to the entire group during the monthly meeting. A raffle is used to draw a winner and that person receives a half day off. And, because it’s Hyland, there’s a happy hour after the meeting every single month.

In EMEA, we’ve also created an advisory council that includes management and non-management participants from each geographic part of the region, representing our different departments. The goal of the “One EMEA Team” is to be a unified voice for the region, focusing on how we can continue to build and improve communication and culture throughout the region. The team meets twice monthly to address new and ongoing initiatives. They also report back on current activities to the larger group during our monthly all-employee meetings.

“A lot of this was employees collaborating on things we thought would help the culture of the region. We’ve taken it very seriously,” said Dunn. “I’m a big fan of employees getting along and enjoying their time together and wanting to come to work every day.”

Finding similarities in different cultures

Dunn has worked for Hyland since the early 2000s, so I was curious what he’s learned now that he’s working outside of the United States.

“Working with other people from other cultures has been incredibly exciting and fulfilling,” said Dunn. “In some respects, it is very different the way people do business from region to region. However, in other ways it is the same. I think too much is made of ‘it’s a culture thing.’ Yes, cultures can be very different. However, one thing that is constant is people treat others with respect, and want to be treated the same, regardless of culture.”

Dunn did acknowledge that the way people communicate is one distinct difference between cultures.

“I was just in Tokyo, Japan, last week, and the way people communicate and interact from a business and social perspective is totally different than anything I have experienced elsewhere,” said Dunn. “For me, it’s what makes my role so exciting and fulfilling at the same time. I get to experience working with amazing people, each with differing backgrounds and lifestyles, but all with the same type of excitement for working together, regardless of culture.”

Dunn ended by talking about how proud he is that our international business is so important.

“It’s been exciting to see the confidence our corporate group has in us,” he said. “We really want to ‘own’ our business and continue to be successful internationally. And we’re putting the right people, resources, and efforts in place to do so.”

Who knows, maybe in a few years that will include some slides, diners, and volleyball courts.

Amy Awadalla is living and loving the #HylandLife as the Social Media intern. She is a graduate of John Carroll University with a degree in marketing. When Amy isn’t scrolling through her social feeds, she is trying new restaurants, traveling the world or spending time with her family in Canfield, Ohio. Micah Spoerndle is currently a PR intern at Hyland, taking a break from her studies down south at Elon University. She is double majoring in International Business and Marketing and plans to graduate this December. Micah enjoys the little things in life that come with living in the beautiful land of Cleveland like Barrio, the Cavs, and driving with the windows down I-90 during rush hour.

Amy Awadalla & Micah Spoerndle

Amy Awadalla is living and loving the #HylandLife as the Social Media intern. She is a graduate of John Carroll University with a degree in marketing. When Amy isn’t scrolling... read more about: Amy Awadalla & Micah Spoerndle