A chat with Dan Blake, COO

Each week we go behind the scenes here at Florence to talk to the people who make up the team.

This week we spoke to our co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Dan Blake about everything from his tours of Iraq to his penguin called Tommy.

Who are you and what do you do at Florence?

My name is Dan Blake, I’m one of the co-founders and my role is the Chief Operating Officer.

I look after the day to day operations at Florence so that’s basically any of the interactions with our customers – hospitals, care homes, nurses and carers and all of the other workers.

So everything from customer service, customer support all the way through to account management and then right at the start sales and business development.

It’s probably easier to say what I don’t do! I don’t do all of the infrastructure that supports Florence so marketing, technology, product, finance, those things don’t come to me.

What made you want to start Florence?

I always knew I wanted to start a company to make a difference, to do something.

I always think it’s important to do something you know and understand and because I was working in the care sector and had seen some of the challenges, I got together with Charles and we decided to give it a go!

It wasn’t like we were on a mountain and had some sort of epiphany, it was like “there seems to be a problem here, maybe we could try and do something to make it a bit better” and now we’ve evolved to where we are today.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

I think it’s around being persistent. So, in the same way you don’t plant a tree and expect it to have grown overnight, it’s the same in work.

If you show up consistently, do the best you can and you stay in the game then good things do happen.

I think that’s probably my number one piece of advice; don’t expect it all to happen overnight, just stay persistent and consistent.

What’s your favourite thing about working at Florence?

For me it’s that I can do whatever I want whenever I feel like it because I make the rules… no, I’m joking!

I guess it’s about feeling a sense of pride around being part of creating a platform where people can come in to learn, develop and grow.

I love that internal aspect of seeing people rise and grow and develop within the company, potentially even leave and go and do something else, but I enjoy seeing that aspect of people’s development.

Whether I’m directly or indirectly involved or not involved at all that’s sort of irrelevant, I just like seeing those people flourish in this environment.

What’s the biggest challenge that Florence is facing at the moment?

I guess the biggest challenge we face is how you can continue to evolve and adapt at pace whilst adding in lots of different things and people, and maintaining our culture and core values and being a decent place to work.

A lot of change is good and bad and we have to evolve and we have to keep changing, that’s probably the hardest thing.

It comes to me, how do I make sure I evolve quickly enough and learn new things and how do other people in the company get to do that as well?

You know, this year we could easily double or more in terms of headcount so making sure we still stay a good team throughout that growth and transition. That’s the biggest challenge, maintaining that.

What’s a fun fact about you that might surprise us?

When I was younger I won a competition on TV and won a penguin!

I obviously had to leave it in the zoo but that was quite fun. It was something called Wacaday, like a quiz competition where you had to go to the library, a place where they had books before the internet!

I went every Saturday for five weeks to find the answers and I was probably actually the only person that actually ever took part – but I won a penguin so that was quite fun. I went to see him a couple of times, and got free tickets to London Zoo.

The penguin was a boy called Tommy, he was quite a good lad.

What piece of advice would you give someone thinking about joining Florence?

I think you should come to Florence if you are looking for the ability to grow and enhance your career relatively quickly but you need to be quite entrepreneurial and creative yourself in your thinking.

If you want to learn loads of stuff and try loads of things then this is the place to come.

If you’re expecting to be spoon fed something then you should probably go and join a bigger, slightly more established company.

Where do you see Florence in five years?

I’d like us to be having an impact across the healthcare sector, so something like one million people using Florence in some aspect of their professional life.

Exactly how that happens… we fortunately have cleverer people than me to work that out, but I think if we can do that and add value to one million people working in social care then we will have done a good thing.

I’d also like us to have some presence overseas and be starting that journey of having value in other locations outside the UK because there are many millions of people across the world that we can help.

If you’d like to join us here at Florence you can check out our vacancies here.

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