Operating at the top of our game
When did you start this role?
I have been with razorblue since April 2017 when I joined as Head of Operations. We were in the midst of an exciting phase and through the growth that we achieved I was promoted to Operations Director in September 2018.
What does your role entail?
Quite literally, everything operational! My focus is on the physical delivery of our various services and what that looks like. So, I’m primarily accountable for our clients’ service delivery, our internal infrastructure capacity, cloud platform, and resilience planning.
This involves looking at and devising razorblue’s business continuity and disaster recovery plans and ensuring we have the right systems in place so that we, and you our clients, could still operate seamlessly if a disaster did occur.
I am also the primary person responsible for our two ISO certifications, 27001 and 9001, putting me as our business ‘Security Officer’. These certifications form a large part of my job and are proof that we meet or exceed internationally recognised standards.
ISO27001 focuses on cybersecurity, so I make sure that every employee and supplier is compliant with our security standards. I am constantly evaluating our policies and ensuring these are amended accordingly when we bring anything new into our systems.
ISO9001 ties in with 27001 but is primarily focused on management systems. This monitors the effectiveness of our business processes and objectives through management reviews, internal audits, proactively seeking customer feedback and monitoring it in accordance with our quality objectives.
I am confident that these certifications play a key role in our growth, especially over the past few years.
Our ISO certifications need to be managed constantly – it’s not just a periodic assessment, and in addition to ensuring our team works to the correct standards, I am responsible for keeping the documentation and policies relevant and compliant.
As well as this I manage our ever-growing vehicle fleet and the overall health and safety management and facilities management in our buildings.
Who reports to you?
Because my role covers so many aspects of the business, the management team from each respective area report to me. This includes Head of Support, Head of Infrastructure and Networks, Customer Service Manager and DevOps Engineers. However, I am usually the ‘go to guy’ for anything that people aren’t quite sure of!
What does a typical working day look like?
One thing I really like about my job is that no two days are ever the same – my day is dependent on what needs attention the most. I’m never sure what is going to happen as a lot of my job is quite reactive, but the first thing I do each day is check if anything has happened during the night shift that I would need to look into.
I then catch up with our Head of Support and Head of Infrastructure for an update, checking whether there are any infrastructure or core system matters that need my immediate attention.
Wearing as many hats as I do, some days I can be looking at what we can do to improve service delivery and client experience, other days I can be working on internal projects, budgeting and strategies, other days it could be ISO compliance, evaluating and revising procedures and processes.
And of course, I have a lot of meetings! What I do touches most points of the business, so I have a lot of interaction with other Directors and Management.
What is your background?
I have always worked in IT and before this I had various IT/ technical roles, predominantly in application support and database administration. I then moved into infrastructure engineering and datacentre management, which was a good foundation for working in operations as I have been involved in multiple strands of IT.
I worked in the Navy and Army Airforce Institute for 15 years, managing an external IT team so have experienced both sides of the fence first-hand.
How did you get into operations?
It was a natural progression – I gradually transitioned from Engineer to Manager and went from infrastructure to managing systems. Being at razorblue has brought together all my experience at a senior level.
How much has IT changed since you first started?
IT has, and I think always will move quickly, so it can be quite difficult to keep up with trends and new technologies, however one of the biggest challenges I have is the element of cybersecurity. In the early days of starting in IT, cybersecurity was something you needed to consider but it was nowhere near the threat level it is now.
As businesses have moved more and more into technology and online, using more connected devices and more data, it has allowed us to work in a more mobile manner which is brilliant- but the risks and threats that come with this are hugely different to what they used to be. It is an ongoing arms race – we can never stop reviewing our strategy and approach, as attackers are constantly trying to battle with businesses.
Best part of your job?
I really enjoy the variety – I can go from having strategy meetings with clients, to onboarding new clients. From working closely with our technical engineers, to project delivery. From sourcing new fleet vehicles to sourcing and integrating complex technologies.
Is there anything about your job that you really don’t like?
I don’t dislike anything, but if there is one thing that can keep me awake at night it is cybersecurity and trying to ensure we remain as far ahead as possible on this.
Greatest working achievement at razorblue?
One of things that stands out for me, and that I am proudest of is the fact that our 24/7 offering has evolved to now be a 24/7 fully resourced service, meaning we always have engineers on desk. This is something very few of our competitors offer, and it is a big head start in our journey to becoming the number one MSP for small and medium sized businesses in the UK.
Another thing that stands out is more on the people side, seeing our employees able to develop a career with us. I have seen people who joined as an apprentice now in senior roles – being a part of their journey and being able to help them in some way is an achievement for me.
Which industry trends have specifically affected you as an operations director?
As I’ve mentioned before, it has to be cybersecurity. No sooner has the industry developed ways to thwart one type of attack, another materialises. This isn’t something that will go away soon – we are in for the long haul, so it should be expected as someone working in operations, that cybersecurity will play a significant part in that role.
I also see the growing focus on customer service and operational efficiency as a major influence. Improving these never stops at razorblue, we are constantly looking at ways to enhance customer service and our offering to keep our clients at the forefront of their respective industries.
A major focus for us is automation, and we are looking at what services we can offer whereby clients can operate self-service fixes, new starters are added automatically, all whilst ensuring high customer service standards are maintained.
We are also assessing how we can improve interactions with clients and researching preferred methods of contact.
Streamlining processes and enhancing customer service – that’s a trend I can get on board with!