Wanstor's pillars of proactivity

A proactivity-first approach to targeted solution building, innovation, CX and organisational culture will continue to ramp up as Wanstor’s catalysts for business growth and differentiation, according to CEO Francesca Lukes.

London headquartered IT support and services firm Wanstor began life in 2002 with a mission to advance the principle of ‘proactivity’ and stand apart from what Lukes describes as ‘traditional break-fix maintenance companies’. “We aimed to fix the things we knew would break or fail before they had an impact on end users,” stated Lukes. “Our heritage is in the networking and infrastructure space – hence our name being a combination of WAN and storage. However, since then we have grown to become a trusted end to end technology partner with capabilities ranging from end user productivity and automation through to security, data and AI.”

The proactive measures adopted by Wanstor have helped generate between 10-20 per cent year-on-year growth over the last few years and revenue is currently sitting at £22 million with circa 240 staff. “The past 12 months have been tougher from a macro-economic perspective but we’re planning to continue the growth trend this year,” stated Lukes. “Another big pillar of our leadership strategy is organisational culture. We’re working towards becoming recognised as an Outstanding Company to Work For – based on the Best Companies framework – which has involved a big focus on leadership and management approaches, wellbeing and CSR.”  

Wanstor’s springboard for growth and development was largely enabled by a management buyout led by Lukes and COO Manmit Rai two years ago. The move repositioned Wanstor and redirected it more decisively towards the next generation of solutions aligned to specific target markets. The verticals of most importance to Wanstor are hospitality, retail, social enterprise, education and professional services.

“Our key customer base is across these industry groups along with ambitious organisations typically with 250-3,000 employees,” added Lukes. “Our depth of specialism within these verticals resonates with customers and we have a strong reputation for providing tailored solutions, bringing experience from different customers around what works best in these target groups. Our proposition development comes from understanding client needs and innovating to develop specific solutions. We also bring our deep client and industry understanding to our partners and help them tailor propositions to be relevant to actual use cases, while creating solutions that make an impact to our mid-market customer group.”  
Key investment
Wanstor recently made a big investment in its service management toolset, enabling it to equip its teams with the latest technology and take advantage of opportunities around AI. “This investment allows us to deliver services more efficiently as well as improve service quality,” added Lukes. “Proposition wise, we’re investing in and developing our capabilities around security, data and AI and modern workplace. These are our focus areas for growth over the coming years. This is an exciting time to be in the technology sector. We are on the cusp of a revolution that could have an impact equivalent to, or greater than, the Internet and mobile phones.

This is an exciting time to be in the technology sector. We are on the cusp of a revolution that could have an impact equivalent to, or greater than, the Internet and mobile phones

“It’s still early days for AI, but with the likes of Microsoft’s Copilot starting to become embedded within the tools we use day to day it is likely to have huge repercussions for the way we and businesses work. In this context, the considerations for Wanstor are how to embed this capability into our internal operations, how we help customers to see the full benefit of adopting these tools, and how we ensure that we protect and secure client data through this process. I am expecting a lot of change over the next three to five years.”

What is certain to remain unchanged is Lukes’ passion for technology development and harnessing innovation to drive value for customers. She began her career as a technology consultant for Accenture responsible for driving innovation and digital transformation projects into large multi-national organisations. During this time she gained experience in developing and implementing technology strategies for the C-suite and has always been a proactive early adopter of tech and deploying digital tools to change the game in business processes and connecting with customers. “But I am not a techie myself, so I come at challenges from a business and customer experience perspective which I think the tech sector needs to see more of,” stated Lukes.

She also noted that being female in the IT and comms industry has been both challenging and rewarding. “I have faced some stereotypes and biases, but I have also found mentors who supported my growth and development,” commented Lukes. “Being a woman has helped me to be more empathetic, resilient and creative as a leader. However, I also struggle with imposter syndrome sometimes, especially when I compare myself to other leaders who have different styles or backgrounds. I have learned to embrace my own strengths and values and to recognise the diversity of leadership that exists in this field.”  
Lukes also pointed out that one of the main challenges facing women in business is that by the time they reach senior leadership positions they are often having to make decisions about balancing work and family life. “The lack of flexible and affordable childcare options leads to women taking longer career breaks, working part-time or opting out of the labour market altogether,” commented Lukes. “This not only affects their earnings and pensions, but also their skills, confidence and opportunities. Improving the options that families have around shared parental leave and childcare would give people more choice and flexibility in how they arrange their childcare, and reduce the pressure and stigma that women face as the primary caregivers. This would benefit employees, business and the wider economy, as well as helping to drive greater gender diversity across more senior positions.”

Just a minute with Francesca Lukes...

What talent do you wish you had?
My brother and sister are both musically gifted and often perform and write music together. To share that talent with them would bring me a lot of joy – but no such luck!  

If you weren’t in ICT what would you be doing?
I have a passion for design (experience and service design, UI and interiors) and would love to hone my skills and explore that more at some point in the future. 

Best advice you have been given:
Lean into challenges and opportunities – and be brave. 

How do you relax when not working?
Over the last couple of years my great interest has been rowing, but recently I made a transition over to cycling and signed up for a big sportive in Mallorca in April which I am both dreading and excited about.

What could you not do without in your job?
Our talented and diverse team of people passionate about customers, tech and service.

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