What do you currently do?
My role as the Chief Executive of Olive Communications is to lead the management team in developing our business in support of our aim to be the leading provider of managed communication services for UK business.
I’ve been in post since Feb ’13 and it has been a very interesting 12 months helping Chairman Mark Geraghty take full advantage of the 7 acquisitions made in 2012. Mark and I have been friends for nearly 15 years, and having worked together in the past joining him as an equity partner seemed logical at the time in brining together our skills to take Olive through the next stage of growth and development. In that 12-month period we have moved office twice to accommodate our growing workforce, acquired one of our key competitors and grown the business from 65 to 150 people.
Whilst the first year has been interesting and rewarding, the future is even more exciting. Its a very exciting time at the moment for the unified communications industry and for business customers alike as the revolution around high speed connectivity, use of tablets/smartphones and business applications takes hold, delivering very tangible benefits to the way people communicate and share information at work.
Since joining I have overseen a huge investment to shape and develop Olive to take full advantage of this market demand, and leverage key partnerships with organisations like Vodafone to deliver solutions to our customers that are relevant, cost effective and very tangible in the benefits to people in everyday jobs that need to work flexibly, remotely and securely.
As a result, we have made a significant investment in people and have recruited some of the brightest talent in the industry to come and join us on our journey.
Away from Olive I still like to keep myself busy at home where my wife and I keep rare breed pigs on our Surrey smallholding. You’ll also often find me with a chainsaw in hand (I haven’t yet felt the need to bring it to the office!) as living in the middle of the woods makes it an essential bit of kit.
What is your inspiration in business?
To provide solutions that solve business challenges head on, reinforced with the very best in support and customer care. It is my mantra and runs through everything we do at Olive.
Who do you admire?
I admire many people in business for lots of differing reasons. I learnt a lot about business from Martin St Quinton, the founder of Azzurri who has an incredible ability to motivate people and has been prolific in building and developing business through acquisition. Martin has helped a lot of people become successful. I also admire Jonathan Palmer, ex-formula 1 racing driver. Jonathan has adapted his skills and business interests over a significant period of time, remaining passionate about the business he is involved in, and has developed his Palmersport business into a brand that is uncompromising in its quality, ensures that every customer becomes an advocate and has the most motivate workforce I’ve seen at every level, from receptionist to Management.
Looking back would you have done things differently?
I don’t think I would, along my career path I’ve had the chance to work with some of the most successful, ambitious and creative people in the industry and it is all coming to fruition right now at Olive where I now have the chance to lead a team that is the envy of the industry to realise its full potential.
In 1998 myself and our current commercial director Paul Butler, formed a business that was acquired by fellow managed services provider Azzurri (led by Martin St Quinton) in 2004. Although I have no regrets about doing so, I have often wondered what our potential would have been in that business if we hadn’t been acquired. Olive represents an ideal opportunity to find out, albeit 8 years older and wiser than we were back then.
What defines your way of doing business?
Our culture is to build an obsession about customer service into the DNA of every person in the business and in doing so to offer world class innovative communications solutions and best in category customer service. We deliver this with a personal touch and enable people to work effectively and efficiently anywhere in the world.
We have a vibrant workforce across the business; they are very keen, motivated and inspiring. This in turn makes our culture very dynamic and an exciting place to work. The team socialise outside of the office as well – we are lucky to have a real family-style culture at Olive, with everyone having a sense of belonging to something special.
They are all willing to go the extra mile to consult and collaborate with our customers, walk in their shoes and ultimately deliver their utopic communications solution.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Find your passion about the business you’re in, work harder than anyone else around you and fun doing it. The better you feel about your job, the more inspired and productive you become. Finally, keep focused on your goals, and be prepared to adapt quickly to overcome challenges, or to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Ultimately, surround yourself with high quality people who can aid your quest with passion and commitment.