Local Voices in Harmony – Spotlight on the UK

July 1, 2021 Vincent Belliveau


It seems crazy to think that it’s been just over a year since our acquisition of Saba Software – time has flown by, yet we’ve achieved so much in unifying our businesses. And the best bit is that our clients have been quick to feel the benefit of bringing these forces together. Something we strived for when combining these two companies!

This past year has been eventful in many ways – a pandemic roars its way across our globe, lockdowns and restrictions meant very different ways of working and some organisations completely transformed. This backdrop spurred us on to ensure that the integration between Cornerstone and Saba was both fast and successful, so that we could support our clients through this pressure and change. In integrating, we noted great strengths across both companies, from a technological and people standpoint. Our goal was to harmonise and bring the power of our unity to the organisations we work with. 

We knew from the beginning that our shared passion for people and their experience at work, their development and their engagement would translate into beautiful things – but we even surprised ourselves at how quickly it did. From where we sit today, Cornerstone is now used by over 6,000 organisations of all sizes, across over 180 countries and in nearly 50 languages, and whilst we’ve grown, we’ve been very mindful to nurture our strengths locally, as well as drive innovation at a global level. Why is the local piece so important to us? We’re about people, making them extraordinary and helping them to reach their full potential. We are also about helping these people to be effective, motivated and ready to drive impact in their organisations, that translates to business outcomes and results. To achieve such a goal, you need to recognise that all people are different. Local teams recognise the differences and really understand the local context and cultural specificities that are associated with all of us. In fact, this is demonstrated in our own business, where the majority of our workforce is now based outside of North America – our country HQ.  

Local firepower

Whilst fusing Cornerstone and Saba, we took the opportunity to make changes to how teams are structured, so that we can get even closer to our customers. This started at the highest levels of our organisation, where we blended the expertise of both organisations into critical global roles in order to leverage the new global power of our combined organisation. These changes then cascaded down through the regional markets we operate in, looking more deeply at this country by country, ensuring there is a dedicated local leader, with local teams, ready to address local needs, in order to drive the best possible experience for our customers.

Take the UK for instance, where Steve Rycroft and Mark Debono represent our people on the ground. Here’s how their current focus is driving impact locally.

Of course, this deep local focus has always been important to me – and more so now I’m Chief International Officer here at Cornerstone. What the acquisition gave us was the opportunity to increase those local capabilities and create a structure that enables a seamless flow between local and global teams like never before. It allows us, for instance, to build out from local regions, capturing unique requirements and use cases when it comes to developing our solutions and product. In turn, this helps to satisfy the needs of the most local and global customers we serve, meeting them where they are, and remaining wholly tuned to the local environments we and they operate in.

And this focus is not just an internal thing, the acquisition allowed us to expand the breadth and depth of our large partner eco-system, inheriting partners across the domains of recruiting, learning and talent in almost every region globally. This network allows us to extend our reach into every corner of the globe.

Then at a global level, we have seen that bringing together our technology and the amazing brains of both organisations has already sparked exciting innovation and growth. 

Bold moves for AI in HR

We united AI experts across the globe to launch the Cornerstone Innovation Lab for AI. This centre of excellence has the objective of propelling the research and development of AI in the workplace forward and responsibly incorporating new AI innovation into Cornerstone’s offerings. We also launched the Cornerstone Skills Graph, a feature that helps organisations and their people leverage AI to implement “strategic skilling”, which is essentially the practice of matching skills to people, learning content and job roles. This is something that all customers – Cornerstone and Saba – can benefit from in every region.

A good example is DPDHL, where we’ve been hard at work using AI to enable better internal mobility  to prepare employees for the future. As a global organisation headquartered in Germany, they needed support from a company like Cornerstone – one that understands its needs at both a local and global level. As you can imagine, during the pandemic, demand for DPDHL’s services skyrocketed, but above all, its workforce needed to stay safe. Meredith Taghi, VP Group Learning, Talent and Platforms at DPDHL spoke to us more about this in this blog post.  

Satisfying the appetite for great content

Unsurprisingly, the way we learn and what we’re learning has changed due to the pandemic. More surprisingly, we’ve seen a huge drive for self-directed learning with people taking charge of their future and expanding their skillsets. People have been hungry for a variety of content, particularly on topics such as leadership, managing a remote workforce and unconscious bias. Importantly, we’ve also seen this as an opportunity to get local, teaming up with the best content partners we could find – serving up learning content that addresses the languages, the topics and formats our customers need.

BNP Paribas Group is a great example of an organisation that has transitioned away from classroom training to offering a variety of content that better reflected the professional diversity of its people. For the full story of how BNP Paribas moved to modern, plug-and-play learning content, take a look at this case study.

Recruiting the new way

Over the past year, some companies paused their recruiting efforts, others continued operations whilst working remotely, and some even needed to scale-up their business (think food retailers) to recruit fast and at volume, while still finding the best candidates for the job.

Working with one customer, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, we helped transform myjobscotland, the biggest services jobs board in Scotland. The recruiting process needed to transform to be fully remote, while still providing the right experience for both candidate and recruiter. Here’s more on COSLA’s story and how they leveraged video technology to drive impressive results.

Accelerated digital transformation

Lastly, we have worked with countless organisations which have accelerated digital transformation or pivoted to keep up with the changing landscape during this time.

An organisation that always springs to mind is Pret A Manger (an international sandwich shop franchise), which had to think fast as countries went into lockdown. The company began to look into new ways of generating revenue, such as home deliveries or more recently, bake-at-home croissants. But with change comes the need for new skills, new roles and potentially new people. Head to this blog to hear more from Andrea Wareham, Chief People Officer at Pret A Manger as she talks about managing change, learning in the flow or work and keeping people at the centre of the organisation.

Exciting times ahead

That’s not all we’ve been busy doing, there is more to come! I can’t give away too much at this point but keep an eye out for more on new innovations and more news on the evolution of Cornerstone. 




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