David Webb, CEO of 6point6
David Webb chats to BQ about rolling up his sleeves, witnessing and experiencing changing internet phases and de stressing with dogs.
What is it the company does?
6point6 is a leading technology consultancy with strong expertise in digital transformation, emerging technology and cyber security. We bring a wealth of hands-on experience to help businesses achieve more with digital. Using cutting edge technology and agile delivery methods, we help businesses reinvent, transform and secure a brighter digital future.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
My job as CEO is to set the strategic direction for 6point6. I decide which services we deliver, what markets to deliver those services to, and assist the management team in delivering on that strategic roadmap. My role involves providing constructive challenges to ideas and helping our management team develop pragmatic solutions to complex problems, so they can put the solutions into action.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I’ve spent nearly 30 years in technology, firstly training as a software engineer in the late 80s and then moving on to the design and architecture for large-scale projects for the UK government, financial services and software companies to name a few. I’ve lived and worked through the first .com bubble, the rise of mobile and smartphones, the second wave of the internet, 2.0, and seen the move to cloud services from physical data centres and now the rapid move into AI. Seeing the wholesale transition of IT in the last 30 years has enabled me to learn from it all - both the good and bad!
What do you believe makes a great leader?
A great leader is someone who gives people enough in their remit to do their job properly. They don’t micromanage, but rather let people deliver what they’ve said they’re going to deliver. Seeing key strengths in people is also a really important aspect - the ability to identify what you need from people and define that is essential. A great leader is also acutely aware of the business they’re in. If you believe in the products and services that you’re delivering, then that is a game changer. While you might not be the best person in a certain field, by having grown up in the industry a level of respect will be there due to the path you’ve taken.
What has been the biggest challenge in your current position?
Learning to let go. As a technologist, I’d spent most of my career controlling everything that happened on large scale projects, from the architecture, design and the implementation. But as the business grew, I realised that I simply couldn’t do it all myself. The reality really hit
that I had to let go and let someone else in when we reached a significant milestone with our turnover - £7 million. I decided to bring in a seasoned CFO, and more importantly, trust them to do the job well and not interfere with their work once they’d done it. Handing over control of the finances to someone who really knew what they were doing was the first step in enabling us to take the business to the next level.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I pretend to go to the gym! I work so much, I often don’t get time to properly go. I do have two dogs though, and I’ve found that five or 10 minutes with the dogs jumping all over me tends to make me completely forget about my day. There’s something great about animals that de-stresses you more than anything else.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be in tech! I was quite lucky in that as an 8-year old I got my first computer which meant I spent my teenage years locked in my bedroom becoming a programmer. I was a kid of the 80s, so I’ve been able to live my dream of playing with computers every day for a living.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
It’s incredibly frustrating when people come unprepared to conversations. Having to spend time finding all the missing pieces of information to create a holistic picture before you can even begin to think about answering the initial question can sometimes be a waste of time. Not answering a question directly is also a pet hate of mine. There’s no need to waffle around an answer - get to the point.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
I see 6point6 as an international company in five years’ time, one that’s a dominant player in both the public and private sector, especially in the financial services, fintech and legal industry. I want the firm to be known as the best organisation for solving hard technology problems; not just a consultancy that will give quality advice, but also one that will roll its sleeves up and help with the problem solving and actual build.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Get your sleep in now! There’s no magic bullet, you will carve your own destiny because it is yours to carve. Be sure to bring your own management style but also know that this will evolve over time. You can’t read a book on being a good business leader - you’ve got to live it. Be your harshest critic and be willing to adapt. You won’t survive long if you don’t.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
I wish I’d been told just how much you have to learn to let go. A couple of years ago I was wasting so much time on scheduling meetings and prioritising which emails needed addressing first. By letting go, taking a step back and hiring an EA, I’ve become much more productive.
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