Meet the MD: Brian Ferrie, Edge Testing Solutions

Meet the MD: Brian Ferrie, Edge Testing Solutions

Ten years ago, Brian founded Edge Testing Solutions and it now employs 250 people, all focussed on making sure software works exactly as it should – which is not as straightforward as it sounds…

What is it the company does?

Edge is a pure-play software testing company, that I co-founded in 2007.  Typically engaged when organisations are implementing a new system or making significant changes to an existing system, Edge is commissioned to ensure systems are fast, secure, available and work as expected in an increasingly complex digital world.

We are here to find bugs before users do and help organisations maintain their reputation, and prevent any financial loss as a result of system failures.

We have 250 employees, including some of the UK’s premier testing thought leaders and experts in the industry, working together to deliver an exceptional service to our clients across the financial services, telecommunications and media, utilities, retail and the public sector.

Our own Edge Academy, established in 2013 to recruit and train Software Testers, offers graduates, school leavers and career changers an opportunity in IT and has so far introduced over 60 newcomers into the industry.

We also launched our Digital Test Hub in Scotland in 2013 to provide low-cost, on demand services to the digital industry – it was the first of its kind in the UK. In 2017, based on the success of the first one, a second Digital Test Hub was opened in Birmingham.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words

My role has evolved over the past 10 years from ‘doing everything’ during start-up mode, through sales and account management as the business grew, to now leading a very capable management team and highly talented team of consultants.  I am more focused on the strategic direction, growth initiatives, moves into new sectors and new services nowadays. 

Additionally, I am constantly looking at organisational change and spend time on ensuring that the company is geared up for its continued growth beyond our current employee number, while holding on to our core values and culture.

 

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

  • Graduated in 1997 from University of Strathclyde, Glasgow with a BSc Hons in Computing Science.
  • Spent 8 years as a software testing practitioner working across sectors including banking, finance, government and utilities.  18 months of that period included a role as Client Delivery Manager.
  • Worked during that time with two smaller testing companies (<50 people) and then became a UK Systems Integrator.

I moved on in 2007 to start Edge, because I wanted to test myself and see if my entrepreneurial spirit was good enough to succeed.

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Losing my co-founder to terminal brain cancer in 2014.  She was diagnosed in 2013 and we had shared the responsibilities equally to that point.  It was a massive wake up call for everyone and recognition that life can change in an instant.  I set about putting in place a hand-picked management team and structure to support not just me but the business moving forward through what has been a significant growth period.

 

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

By spending time with my family.  I have a very supportive wife and four boys (three of them teenagers).  We enjoy travelling so do that when we can in the school holidays.

 

What do you believe makes a great leader?

  • Giving people opportunities to develop their careers with clear objectives and support, without micro-managing – inspiring and being a leader, not a boss. 
  • Asking questions or for a solution as to how an individual would solve a problem, rather than telling them your answer. 
  • Recognising people’s strengths and exploiting those to their full potential rather than focusing on their weaknesses. 
  • Being open and honest in communication as well as being accessible to all staff, whether it be for a business conversation or a personal one.
     

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a professional footballer but unfortunately was never good enough.

 

Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

A messy and untidy office.  We have a clear desk policy at Edge, which people need reminding of from time to time, but there will generally also be ‘time for a tidy please’ moment every now again.

 

Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

Being recognised as the number one pure-play software testing company in the UK.

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Trust your instinct.  It may not always seem right at the time but it generally works out that way.

 

What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?

That a recession would be coming within 12 months of starting the business!