Pisys is an Aberdeen based software product development company that builds and sells applications to a worldwide client base. The company was founded by Peter Henderson in 1988 and today they specialise in the creation and delivery of specialist technology products for control room simulation, integrity management and action tracking.

Pisys have recently hosted Hristina Dimitrova, a Management with Marketing student studying at Aberdeen Business School. Pisys were interested in scoping out whether market research should be a focussed role within the organisation.

Whilst Hristina worked at Pisys she worked on the company’s market research and developed a prospective client database. We spoke to Peter to ask about his experience working with Talent Exchange and with an RGU student.

What prompted you to contact Talent Exchange?

One of our strategies for getting sales and marketing is that we do quite a lot of research into businesses and identifying the individual within those businesses who might be interested in software that we sell. We sell quite specialised applications so it’s important that we target the right type of individual, it can be quite hard to get to them. We didn’t really have anybody doing that as a full time and focussed role within the company, we were all doing a little bit of it and using spreadsheets which wasn’t proving to be the most efficient way of doing things. We needed somebody to deliver a method for identifying potential clients more efficiently so that we had a point of reference for everyone and so that somebody has ownership of it rather than it being a little bit of everybody’s.

Can you describe the process which led to your engagement with a student through Talent Exchange?

We had an initial meeting with a member of the Talent Exchange team and they described the type of projects and skills that were available to us. We then met with the student, she had the relevant skills and interests for us and we liked her. It was all quite straightforward and conventional.

Can you describe the project that was undertaken?

Hristina did a couple of things for us. Firstly she put together a resource in the form of a database which allows us to target specific people and specific companies. She did a lot of research using various web resources such as LinkedIn and some other tools that we had. She would start with the company website and get contacts within the company and research in various ways to find out who in the organisation has the particular role and decision making power that we were interested in. Then she might use LinkedIn or some other tools to further research the individual. She did quite a lot of peripheral research and the output of that was a list of people in companies who would be potentially receptive to contact from Pisys. She worked closely with the company salesman so there was quite a lot of to and fro between them.

What was the outcome of the project?

What we’ve got now is a way of doing things – we didn’t really have a central database and we do now, so that was beneficial. Having Hristina there gave us that focus and exposed the role within the organisation. We always suspected we needed a member of staff dedicated to the role but having her there proved to us that there is enough work for somebody to do to justify that position within the company, so that was good for us.

How did you work with Hristina?

She worked within the businesses so she would just pop through and speak to me if she had questions. She wasn’t in every day but she would be in enough to do the job and we would touch base with her regularly to check on progress. She worked closely with Pisys’ salesman and he would be in a couple of times a week to speak to her and go over any questions. She also communicated with us through phone calls, it was easy enough.

How do you think she benefited?

I think really just being in an office environment was good for her and I think she probably got a bit of exposure to the field of market research and that was something she had expressed an interest in. Research is a core part of any marketing or events management function and I think she will benefit from having those skills and the ability to do research in a real, hands-on way and in a ‘real world’ context.

How do you feel your business benefitted overall?

We got a focussed resource that we can use and we have actually added to it since Hristina left, so that’s been useful. It’s focussed our attention on maybe doing the data gathering in a more structured way going forward.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the start?

Nothing in particular. I think we knew what we needed, we just hadn’t given it the focus that it deserved and that was the problem. I don’t think we discovered anything new or unexpected as such but we definitely got something of value out of the process.

What would your advice be to others considering working on a project with RGU students?

Make sure you are giving the student meaningful work, don’t use them as a dog’s body. Make sure there is something interesting for them to do but also don’t expect the student to have the breadth of knowledge that perhaps one of your employees would have. Give them a fairly focussed task but make it an interesting one and one that you can see a result from within a few months.

What was the experience of working with RGU?

It was quite straightforward and easy. The student was clever and enthusiastic and she delivered a good result. The experience was good and I am pleased with what we got. We didn’t expect to radically re-engineer our organisation within the space of three months with Hristina but we made incremental improvements and I think that’s all we could ask for and hopefully she got some benefit from the work she did with us too.

For more information on Talent Exchange, visit the Talent Exchange webpages or to talk to a member of the project team about a work experience opportunity email talentexchange@rgu.ac.uk or call 01224 262046.