Having spent over 30 years in the telecoms industry and now running a highly successful £200 million-plus turnover company, you could say there isn’t much Dave McGinn doesn’t know about business.
Yet despite his experience, the Daisy Communications CEO is still on a mission to be the best he can be for his people by pushing personal and educational boundaries.
We meet McGinn in a Liverpool Street bistro in London, not far from the inner London suburb where he was born and raised, en route to the latest educational trip he hopes will lead to the MBA he aims to achieve later this year. The reason for embarking on his latest challenge is simple, as he explains: “I left school with ambition but few qualifications, but I have been smart enough to succeed. I believe I can be smarter.”
McGinn was a carpenter and joiner by trade but never embarked on the artisan career he trained for and now doesn’t even pick up a saw or set square at home to take on some DIY. “It goes back to a realisation I had about the value of time management and reward,” he added. “I believe that in giving other people the opportunity to do a job it means I’ll get less stressed, and I can probably contribute more doing my job while they do theirs. That’s what keeps the world going round.”
I was the only Director who went through five iterations of the same business but was always cognisant of our aims and goals, the need to change and importantly our people
McGinn’s entrepreneurial career started back in 1999 when he joined Anglia Telecom Centres as Sales Director, a business that was sold multiple times before the company finished up in the hands of Matt Riley’s Daisy Group, and McGinn was present throughout this period. “I was the only Director who went through five iterations of the same business but was always cognisant of our aims and goals, the need to change in line with new owners, and most of all our people,” he commented. “I am adaptable to change, and one thing I am incredible proud of is how long those people stayed and continued to meet our aims. For that I will be eternally thankful.”
The purchase and integration of Fone Logistics 12 years ago, quickly followed by MoCo Distribution, saw Daisy Distribution evolve and grow rapidly, but another change was coming for McGinn. “We had created something special at that time, but six years ago Matt asked me to come up north and run Daisy Communications, his direct business,” he said. “I was reticent because distribution was going well and I was enjoying our channel relationships. It was a challenge but I took it on because I can help bring great people together, form a cohesive unit, get rid of noise and demystify things. That’s what we did.”
Since then McGinn has overseen some ambitious acquisitions in the last 12 months, having acquired Premier Choice, Communicate Better and latterly XLN Group. With a £200m-plus turnover and nearly 900 employees, Daisy Communications is now Britain’s second biggest SME comms provider. So how does McGinn manage the integration of businesses with invariably different visions, objectives and cultures? “First of all, very carefully,” he added. “No merger is the same, and just because something was done one way doesn’t mean it can’t be done differently.”
McGinn is clearly an ICT industry player at the top of his game, but he wants more. “I truly believe I’ve got the best job because of the people around me. I’ve got supportive investors, I’ve got supportive teams throughout the organisation and because of them we’re doing amazing things,” he said.
And this, he says, is why he took on the MBA challenge. “I need to be the best person I can be for the people in my business,” explained McGinn. “That’s the reason I put in for the MBA, which is a tough challenge when you’re not used to studying. Of course, there’s stuff you already know but there’s a lot you don’t. It’s about understanding different ways of seeing things and bringing them to life. I’m hoping that I’m a better person now than I was when I began the course.”