To follow on from Simon’s previous article about what he gets up to in his spare time. We’ve spent some time with him to find out more about his career, and how he is making a difference to Data Interchange after joining in December 2019.
Tell me about your career…
What was your first job?
Flat packing cardboard boxes at the local newsagent – £1 / hour!
What has been your favourite job or project so far?
One of my highlights was working at Red Stack Tech between 2009-16. A bit of everything really, great camaraderie, growing a company from 20 to 150 people. I briefly worked as a technical performance consultant and moved into being the Director of Technology Delivery. It was fun, stressful, varied (He went to Brisbane, read that funny story here) but overall, it was great because of the people. The work events were excellent, we worked hard and played very hard.
How did you end up at Data Interchange?
It was mostly about the culture, plus I convinced Robert I was the person he needed for his vision! Data Interchange appealed to me as it was a complete break away from what I’d done from a tech perspective but was still very focussed on technology. I like working for the “DI sized” company and the people I’d met gave the indication it was the sort of company culture that appeals to me; similar to Red Stack.
What have you been doing to keep up the morale of your team during these difficult times of COVID 19?
Communicating with as many people as I can, wearing silly hats, generally being an annoying goof at. I’ve had some feedback to say it cheered people up…. I feel in my Customer Solutions team there is more openness in what we do and willingness to challenge the status quo and question what we’re doing – with a view to ensure we’re doing the right thing. I think people are just starting to feel empowered without having to run off to the Leadership Team all the time to get decisions made.
What is your leadership style?
Trusting, transparent, not controlling, open, respectful, enabling.
Where do you see yourself this time next year?
The same, but different – more partners onboarded, the Customer Solutions team supporting our transition to Microsoft Azure Cloud, reacting to the world realising Data Interchange is the premier supplier of EDI solutions globally! Nothing specifically about me, other than, I like to see people develop and enjoy work.
What is the overall goal of your Customer Solutions team?
To further professionalise the department and develop Data Interchange’s focus on customer success, solutions, and satisfaction. Developing and living that “outside in” approach is a true path of continual improvement for a company. I believe there isn’t a target to reach, precisely, because, if you have a set target you think you’ve “achieved” so you stop improving and challenging yourself, in some senses, I believe in being in permanent beta…
Where do you think technology is going?
A lot of incremental changes and improvements as people still start their journey to the cloud and/or fully understand what cloud adoption really means for them. It’ll be huge for some in a positive sense; being able to react quickly to market conditions etc, for others it’ll be a huge and expensive mistake. Continued improvement with faster processes and quicker memory but nothing majorly disruptive in the near future, perhaps quantum computing will become more mainstream towards the end of my career but not any time soon. Probably as well, the realisation as well that certain technologies are really not ready for broad use (Blockchain – it doesn’t scale), AI (its impact has been exaggerated – there is already plenty of “AI” around), over complicating solutions can make for long term pain. Autonomous offerings are interesting, but again the hype around the *real* impact these will bring has been overplayed. COVID should accelerate technology, and probably already has – we’ve seen a lot of changes to Teams in a very short period of time this year, for example. And the remote working and realisation that quite a lot of things needn’t be done in person will be realised – a lot more electronic transactions will happen, for example. COVID will encourage the adoption of technology to make efficiencies.
What changes are you seeing in customers?
They expect good customer service and due to the general “cheapening” of IT in the 20+ years or so I’ve been involved, part of what makes a company stand out is their quality of service and credibility due to the quality of work. It becomes less about a race to the bottom line when you can offer and deliver quality.
Thank you for sharing your experiences and opinions, Simon. It is really interesting to hear about your career story, but also about the wealth of knowledge you bring to Data Interchange. You have made some great positive changes to the Customer Solutions team already, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!