“Who would choose to launch a company and bring it to market in the middle of the world’s worst global pandemic in living memory?” Dominic Dinardo asks. “My career has gone through two Gulf Wars, 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan. In my lifetime, I’ve seen everything from the Falklands War to the Miners’ Strike.”
“We’ve seen a lot of bad stuff, but trying to bring a company to market when no-one was allowed to meet anyone, we weren’t allowed to travel and everyone was completely unclear about where they could and couldn’t go, was particularly challenging. But the good news is we did it, we succeeded and we started winning customers through perseverance, courage and stamina. We were transparent and trustworthy and we used the amazing technology at our disposal to break through.”
“We’ve been able to win business from South Africa, Kenya, Belgium, Portugal, Germany and beyond without ever leaving our offices.”
People Power Fuels Aforza
The secret to Dominic’s success with Aforza is people power. He made sure he hired people who would be passionate about the company and give it everything they had to make sure it prospered.
“If you do the right thing in recruitment and you find the people with the passion, the mission, the DNA and the values that align with yours, they will work like nothing else to succeed,” he explains.
“The level of employee commitment and drive is unrivalled in my experience and it’s enabled us to do more for our customers. I’m so grateful for the team around me. Naturally, it also helps that we’ve got the best technology in the world.”
When he was recruiting, Dominic targeted individuals who had particular reasons to be motivated. He hired young mothers coming back to work, university graduates and young people looking for their first jobs.
“We invested our mentorship and experience in these people,” he explains. “It’s not like prescribed training. We called them, talked to them and coached them in a really hands-on way. Then we let them loose (within the company).”
Aforza currently has 40 employees, but it will soon have many more because it has recently become Aforza Inc – a global company with headquarters in America. Dominic says they will be “employing like crazy” throughout the rest of 2021.
Motivating Employees Through Transparency And Empathy
Dominic’s management style is based on his V2MOM training at Salesforce. It is a methodology which encompasses Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles and Measures, and enables managers to create a framework for leadership that keeps all their employees aligned to the overall purpose.
“That methodology was drilled into me and it never left,” Dominic explains. “I really believe in high levels of transparency, sometimes when it’s difficult and painful. Everybody is in this together – that’s my mantra. Hierarchical management is very 1980s. Today I might call any employee at any time – it doesn’t matter who they work for – just to ask them how they’re getting on.”
Dominic could sense the separation anxiety in his employees during Covid times. He takes it personally when employees struggle with mental health issues like depression. “I always feel like there’s something more I can do,” he explains.
At Aforza, they have done things like sending out holiday hampers and organising fun activities like beer brewing, cake baking and keep fit classes. “But really it boils down to a lot of communication, a lot of listening and a lot of empathy,” Dominic says.
The Inspiration Behind Aforza
You only have to listen to Dominic Dinardo for a few minutes to realise how determined he is and how passionate he is about his business.
He learnt his trade at Salesforce after becoming only the third UK sales engineer at the company back in 2002 when it was virtually unknown. Then he became well-versed in the art of building companies within the Salesforce ecosystem during his time at Veeva Systems and Vlocity.
However, while Dominic gained a lot from these experiences, something was missing from his life. During an emotional moment, he realised exactly what it was.
In January 2008, Dominic’s father passed away. They had a challenging relationship, but when he was writing the eulogy for his funeral at a church in Glasgow that was designed and built by his father during his career as a civil engineer, he was struck by a thought.
“It hit me,” Dominic recalls. “In my life and in the work that I do, what is the church that I am leaving behind after I go? We all have this moment in our careers. If it’s just about getting paid, it’s called work. But if there’s something you can leave behind, it becomes a far more fulfilling life and career.”
When Dominic built Aforza years later, that was his inspiration. He and his co-founders looked at what they could to make their customer’s careers more successful and enrich them however they could.
“We wanted to do all the things that, if we were not there, would not exist,” the entrepreneur explains. “If we were not here doing this, everyone’s job in consumer goods would be that much harder because they would be doing it the old way.”
“We are here to build our role and our church in society. And if I wasn’t doing that, it would just be work.”