James Doggart, CEO of Cloud Technology Solutions, always wanted to run his own business. He talks to BQ about what he believes makes a great leader and his advice for the entrepreneurs of the future.
What is it the company does?
Cloud Technology Solutions (CTS) specialises in enabling businesses to undertake a digital transformation journey by migrating their IT infrastructure to the cloud. We’ve so far migrated nearly seven million users across to Google Cloud and Microsoft 365.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
Enabler, facilitator, futurologist, to name but a few. As CEO my role is to help my team grow, develop and continuously improve.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I left university in debt (even back in those days) and found a role in IT sales. I discovered I was good at it and was lucky enough to work with some big names such as Silicon Graphics International, a high-performance computing business, as well as Microsoft.
It was upon joining Salford Software that I found a real passion for building businesses. When I realised I couldn’t take that organisation further, I had to decide whether I start again or start up a business. CTS seemed a brilliant opportunity. I could clearly see there was a step change in IT and technology and it was focused around the cloud. The migration work I’d already done with Novell give me an insight in how we could help to transform businesses and companies.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
I’m still working that one out!
In all honesty, truth. You’ve got to be believable and committed. It’s recognising that we have a team of great people and my job is to give them the autonomy to do what they are best at. I think we’ve got a good balance of maturity with enough fun to make it the place people want to work.
Without a doubt it is about giving trust and receiving it back. I hate HR and rules and procedures and I’m keen to reduce the internal red-tape as much as possible.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Time and resources. We have been so fortunate to be on a rapid growth plan and we’ve been able to respond to the opportunity. The industry is still in its infancy in many ways - now we have to recruit the right people not only in terms of skills but mindsets.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Family time back at home in Lancashire. I don’t think what we do is stressful per se. It’s exciting and while that emotion exists we’ll absorb it into something positive.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a businessman. I started selling marbles at primary school. I’d win 10 then bag them up.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Where do I start?! I guess it’s the rigid formality that so many businesses cling on to. We’re not that kind of business. I guess it’s a lack of integrity, accountability and honesty. If you mess up, face up and say so. I think where that has happened previously, we’ve been able to maintain our relationships with our clients.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
I’m looking at tripling our growth and our people. We’re developing the next level of products for our customers. For those who’ve migrated to the cloud, we now need to develop their cloud estate further. We’re looking at how we can provide tools to senior teams to evaluate how their business is performing in the cloud.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Build yourself a solid team of people around you. Each with their own strengths and expertise. They should know their stuff better than you. Focus on your culture and remember to stay grounded. It’s important to avoid the distractions of success, in my view. Build something solid that is sustainable and lasts. I’d recommend you have to ensure you’re constantly looking forward, not over your shoulder.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
Hang on hard, this ride’s a rollercoaster!