Organisational culture and operational excellence are best optimised through a purpose-led combination of teamwork and a values driven strategy, according to Utilize Managing Director Guy Hocking.
Embedding purpose into every aspect of a business will bring the biggest impacts, believes Hocking. True to his word, he has enabled Utilize people to set the stage for the MSP’s next phase of growth with a staunch commitment to ESG, D&I and people development underpinning his strategic approach – all three just as critical to future success as differentiation through cutting edge products and services. “It all boils down to our people,” stated Hocking. “Our focus and investments are channelled towards them, their wellbeing and culture, training, mentoring and having the best tools. Our aim is to foster a culture that enables staff to cultivate a growth oriented mindset. Work hard, stay true to your values and anything is possible.”
Hocking says Utilize’s culture underpins a company-wide desire for mutual success that, importantly, informs staff recruitment strategies aimed at individuals with similar values. “I have found building a successful team around me to be the most rewarding part of my role,” added Hocking.
Tackling sustainability challenges isn’t optional for us. Customers and prospects are asking for it. The next generation of talent are demanding it. We must have the answers to these questions
However, a block to progress for many MSPs is the skills gap, and Hocking pointed especially to the urgent need for more skilled personnel in the technology sector – a challenge that Utilize is stepping up to address. “As a technology company we have a huge role to play,” he said. “We not only want to encourage more employees to come and work for us, we want to attract more people into the technology sector. We’re deeply committed to local apprenticeship programmes and we have an award winning programme of our own. Additionally, we maintain a strong involvement with local colleges.”
Utilize, which has offices in London and Essex, also aligns itself with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, channelling its efforts predominantly through the Ingram Micro Trust X community. “Working alongside over 25 other technology businesses in the community we actively support a number of key goals, including tackling climate action, creating decent work opportunities, fostering economic growth, promoting good health and wellbeing, and advocating gender equality,” said Hocking.
Our aim is to foster a culture that enables staff to cultivate a growth oriented mindset. Work hard, stay true to your values and anything is possible
He drew attention to Utilize’s current ambition to help the Trust X community develop a tool to measure its carbon footprint and establish accurate and verified SBTI targets for each business. “As a community, our objective is to devise concrete actions that we can put into practice within our own businesses,” added Hocking. “Collectively, we aim to make a positive and lasting impact on sustainability. This is a significant part of Utilize’s corporate philosophy.
“Tackling sustainability challenges isn’t optional for us. Customers and prospects are asking for it. The next generation of talent are demanding it. We must have the answers to these questions and most importantly, we must contribute to positive change.”
On taking the reins as Managing Director in 2017, Hocking quickly set about building a new leadership team, making important investments and drawing up an ambitious plan to significantly increase the business’s prospects based on his key values. Six years into the project, Hocking forecasts year-end revenues to be circa £21 million, up from £18 million, with big gains made through organic growth – but he also has his eye on acquisitions. Hocking attributes, in large part, Utilize’s impressive £3 million hike in organic growth to people power, which is charging up following an increase in headcount from 111 to 135 in the past 12 months.
His strategy of course extends beyond nurturing a purpose-led workforce with similar values applied to cementing long-term client relationships. “From a customer standpoint, our purpose revolves around equipping every business with the technology they need to thrive and succeed,” explained Hocking. “This involves assisting customers to deploy transformative technology and helping them to achieve their goals.”
This strategy is largely underpinned by strong cyber security measures built into systems and services. “We’re baking cyber security into our offerings so that we know we’re secure by design,” added Hocking. “While this inherently complex process involves integrating security into our operations, we believe it’s the most effective approach towards becoming a secure MSP and protecting our customers.”
Hocking reiterated that while cyber security is a primary concern it’s not the sole focus. “We also strive for efficiency, both internally and for our customers,” he added. “We achieve this through process automation and software solutions. As a Sage business partner we use a range of software that not only fosters innovation for our customers but also generates many efficiencies.
“Data Intelligence is another key strategy for us. By cleansing and surfacing data we empower business leaders to make well-informed and accurate decisions. We leverage tools like Power BI and we’re also well on the way to incorporating AI into these services.”
Hocking’s top tips...
The MSP market is intensely competitive, so gain an advantage by investing time in understanding your customers and speaking their language. Be clear about your mission and execute efficiently – not just doing it well, but the best you can be. And if an opportunity arises to carve a niche, differentiate or add significant value to your customer, move heaven and earth to make it happen.
Just a minute with Guy Hocking...
Satya Nadella: The transformation that has taken place within Microsoft during his tenure is phenomenal. And Arsene Wenger: I’m a big Villa fan, but what he did for Arsenal and football in general is incredible. The science, insights and disciplines he brought formed the foundations of the modern game.
Tell us something about yourself we don’t know:
I have an unhealthy addiction to salt and vinegar Discos.
Your main strength and what could you work on?
I’m fiercely competitive, but that can be my weakness too.
Three ideal dinner guests:
Thom Yorke, I could listen to him for hours. Abraham Lincoln, he might teach us a thing or two! And Jimmy Carr to keep us all laughing.
Biggest career achievement:
Having the privilege of heading up an amazing team for the past six years. It’s been a hell of a journey to this point, and I am looking forward to what comes next.
If you weren’t in ICT what would you be doing?
Living in the Swiss Alps – climbing, running, skiing, eating cheese and ham.
Best advice you have been given:
Work hard and most importantly enjoy the journey.
Today’s top three leadership priorities?
Talent, sustainability and AI.
The lack of gender equality in our sector. I’d love to attract more women into the industry.
I would have read more books because knowledge is power and I feel like I am playing catch-up.
How do you relax? I run, climb or spend time watching my boys playing football or rugby.