Executive InterviewsLatest

Meet CEO | Panda Rose | Kelly John Rose-A panda for all seasons

Today we have selected Kelly John Rose to take his Interview. He is the CEO of Panda Rose.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

My team is making it through this ok. At the start, the sudden lockdowns and other complications very quickly led to severe restructuring within our business to manage cashflow. However, both the support of the local community and our loyal customers have led to us pulling together and building some pretty amazing stuff this year. Many of our staff have to work on-site due to the need to work with computers and networks directly to ensure that they are operational and up. However, we have been able to restructure our other meetings towards virtual meetings to better manage those teams.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?

I’m Kelly J. Rose, I was born and raised in Alberta. My father runs an accounting software firm and I worked with him from when I was quite young. In fact, I have been developing software on the AS400 platform with RPG for almost 25 years.  I went off to the University of Waterloo to get my Honours Co-Op Bachelors of Mathematics degree. While I was there, I worked with a long list of organizations ranging from the Canadian Space Agency, CN Rail, and Net Integration Technologies. After my degree, I worked at the Institute for Quantum Computing and Perimeter Institute for Advanced Study for a year. I was invited from there to go do a Masters of Science at the University of Calgary underneath Stuart Kauffman. I finished my degree, and went off to Toronto to found what would eventually become Panda Rose Consulting Studios, Inc. Over the past decade, we’ve grown Panda Rose to being a world-class technical consulting agency, providing three main pillars of support, Software Development (Mobile, Web and Enterprise), Digital Marketing (Social Media Management, SEO and PPC), and Managed IT support.

How does your company innovate?

Our team is constantly developing new custom software solutions for our clients and thus we need to stay on the cutting edge to ensure that they are getting the most bang for their buck moving forward. A major source of our innovation revolves around our in-house framework built on React and PHP, called Kojo Foundation, which allows for rapid prototyping of advanced mobile and web applications. This KojoPHP framework has allowed us to build advanced, fully secure systems for many clients efficiently while also ensuring the code base is maintainable moving forward.

How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

At first, it took quite a hit to our SMB revenues, as many small and medium businesses needed to strongly tighten up their cash flow to manage to be shut down for extended periods. However, as the year has progressed and various grants have become available, more and more of our clients are investing in building up their digital infrastructure and marketing strategies. Our success with them is naturally leading to many new clients finding us out and expanding our client base in Alberta and beyond.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

Yes, when cashflow very quickly got cut off due to lockdowns, we had to tighten up the ship and dismiss some personnel. This was incredibly difficult. We have been navigating the waters by prepping our team to be able to work effectively from home if the need should arise, while also adjusting our sales and marketing to take advantage of more digital channels.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

Our usage of our Microsoft 365 account has become far more extensive with the need to have many of the staff working remotely. Thus, we are using Microsoft Teams a lot more than we ever did, and we restructured our DevOps to make strong use of new tools like GitPod, which allow for easier remote collaboration on software development tasks. We are also working with many clients to enable them to work remotely while still maintaining the security of their data, so setting up proper VPNs and secure online file storage solutions.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Our competitors spread a very wide gamut due to the nature of our business. However, we plan to stay in the game by continuing to provide quality technical services to our clients at a price they can afford and ensuring that they can continue to operate moving forward.

Your Final Thoughts

When researchers studied the behavior of individuals in London during the Blitz (When Germany was bombing them), they expected to find that many people locked down and would have severe disturbances from the stress and trauma of the situation. Instead, they discovered that instead of people looking down and being unable to handle it, many of them actually showed the opposite: An almost heroic ordinary bravery. Children would play soccer in the parks while bombs fell around them, parents would go to work every day, and life continued. When they asked the question as to why their original predictions were wrong, they discovered that humanity was more resilient than they thought. People were originally afraid, but they were more afraid of the fear itself. Once they were in the midst of the disaster, they realized they didn’t lock up, and that they could continue on and do what was needed to keep London moving. They knew they could make it to the other side and then things would be better. Yes, people might die, but that they might also live, so they may as well live well.

This is no different. This will pass, and all of us will be stronger because of it. Business is changing, but in the end, it will be for the better as we all discover a new strength in ourselves and in our teams.

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