Getting to Know You: Huw Owen of Ark Continuity

What do you currently do?
CEO of Ark – owner of high security, high integrity data centres. Our sustainable business model means we are able to lower total cost of ownership through lower energy and operating costs. We build Arks, not just data centres.

Who do you admire?
Anyone who is an exemplar for their chosen field of endeavour which is always borne of huge commitment, courage and immense drive.

Who is your inspiration in business?
My father. He started in the pits in South Wales at 14, moved to Africa and drove a great career and life. He gave me an education, a strong work ethic and an ingrained sense of owning my life and all its outcomes.

Looking back, would you have done things differently?
My career started in the Royal Hong Kong Police. Returning to the UK I retrained as a lawyer before taking a role with the Asia Foundation in Cambodia. Back in England I worked for a City law Firm before taking a role at EDS which eventually ‘morphed’ from handling significant problems across EMEA to driving all £100M or greater start-ups.

Then on to senior management roles latterly as Regional Vice President of HP’s UK defence and security business and President of Global Health for BT.

Looking back, it has all been fantastic but I would probably have made the transition from Lawyer to Businessman slightly sooner – but that is me applying a PhD in hindsight via a pretty pedantic microscope.

What defines your way of doing business
Clients front and centre – they are your life blood. Start with the desired outcome in mind, be crystal clear on the ‘muscle’ that you require to get there (talent, structure, operating model, finance etc) and what you must stop doing (people, time and money are all finite) and then relentless execution of that plan.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
You spend lots of hours working, so find a field of business that genuinely interests you and a company that constantly stretches you. Grasp every opportunity to master that industry, find mentors, ask for training, ask questions and constantly a challenge yourself.

Remember that all world class leaders have probably at some point been world class followers. Think, decide and act – be bold and be committed. Maintain balance – downtime from work is important as it enhances judgement and retains perspective. Invest real quality time in family, friends and life’s many and varied pursuits.

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