Jamie Durham of Systemwork talks to BQ about the importance of getting pricing right, preventing email bullying and investing in yourself.
What is it the company does?
Based in Leeds, Systemwork is a managed IT service provider, which offers support including VoIP, cloud, data security, mobile device management and employee monitoring.
With a focus on providing a quality customer experience, we work hard to ensure we put companies’ productivity and happiness first, by dealing with enquiries quickly and efficiently.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
My job is very varied, but my key roles are heading up the business development and quality control, as well as ensuring the smooth day-to-day running of the firm. We have amazing relationships with all of our clients – this is of paramount importance to our brand – so retaining this takes up a lot of my focus.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I was an electrical engineer straight out of school and made the most expensive microphone in the world at the time – for the likes of Duran Duran and Kylie Minogue.
From there, I went into service management for ICL and took care of large contracts including Lloyds, UDT and Cap Gemini. I started to get a passion for IT and moved into support within the banking sector from ICL's outsourced services arm. While working for Barclays, I was contacted about an MOD contract in Harrogate, which is where I remained until I started Systemwork.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Summed up in one word, trust. But I also believe strongly in people not belittling one another – no shouting and always bringing good energy to the workplace, promotes this to the rest of your colleagues.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
I originally set up a pricing system at Systemwork, which just didn’t work, and not getting this right from the outset really put us on the back foot commercially. And although it’s been a challenge to repair this, it’s been a huge yet valuable learning curve that we have switched up entirely.
Systemisation was also something else we didn’t realise the importance of. But now we’ve established processes throughout the firm, which has improved efficiencies and streamlined everything. The difference is significant and it’s fantastic to see!
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I run 5k every night, and 10k on a weekend. Without this, I can’t function or shut off.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’m not sure I know the answer to that at 40! But I do know that I always wanted to build something that generations of my family would be proud of, that would, in turn, provide some level of financial freedom to enjoy life. I have always enjoyed being creative and this is still true – be that building brands, products or a user journey.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Bullies – more specifically, email bullies. I have had first-hand experience of this, so I’ve worked hard to create a culture where we are all accountable for one another – including myself. There’s no excuse for this style of behaviour, in or out of business.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
After a long time specialising in IT support, I would like us to become an end-to-end communications company.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Going back to my earlier point, get your pricing right. All of your success stems from this, so it’s so important to get it spot on in the first instance. And to invest in yourself – not everyone knows everything, so having a focus on personal development will allow you to be a better leader.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
My school education wasn’t great, and the majority of what I know is from books and the help of mentors. I think a financial education is still a massive omission from most people’s lives. Knowing how to price a product, along with working out the true cost to the business, would have saved us a few years.
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