Meet the MD: Gavin Scotchbrook of Agile Group

Meet the MD: Gavin Scotchbrook of Agile Group

Chief operations officer Gavin Scotchbrook leads a variety of different departments within Agile Group, an IT and Communications Service business. Having started his working days as a pot washer, Gavin has worked in a variety of positions, and caught up with BQ to tell us how he got to where he is now...

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.

My role as chief operations officer means being involved and leading different departments within the business, but not being responsible for them. Each department within Agile Group, has a director so my role sees an involvement with the different departments and helping to lead but not run or manage them. I definitely think because of having worked in the business for quite a while now, being able to offer my advice and expertise works well for myself, the department director and the team within.


What is it the company does?

We provide IT and Communication services to business across the UK. We have an approach and philosophy whereby we try and take problems off desks and we help to improve business performance.  We save time and money but not so as to impact on security and risk management of businesses. We also look for fast return on investment for customers.

There are a number of ways we are able to achieve all of the above. We have a fantastic account management system in the business and project managers for each product set, meaning all jobs are managed easily.

Our approachability is something we pride ourselves on also. We encourage customers to contact anyone in the company hierarchy they wish to, with each assigned an account and technical manager, as well as having communication access to company directors.

Having grown from a small to large team, our leadership team and directors are approachable from an internal and external point of view, with customers encouraged to contact them.


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

At 14, I started off as a pot washer at the Highfield Hotel. I had a passion for chemistry and achieved various qualifications in the field and got a job as a lab technician at ICI.

After that I moved on to the Water Board, doing a similar role. Sadly the Water Board shut down and that was when I went for a career change and moved into communications. I started off in this industry, working for the likes of Comcast, NTL and Virgin Media, before an opportunity to join Qnet Group in 1999. I had a few roles there, starting off as a telecoms engineer, but the most important was a contracts manager where I lived and worked in Nottingham for four years.

I was extremely successful in that role and I become area manager looking after Manchester, Glasgow and Leeds sites too. I started my career at Agile Group in 2008 and became a director there. My biggest achievement in this business was taking the communications side of the business from £200,000 to £900,000 in a four year period.

I then moved into a sales director role at Agile Group and within the last six months became COO.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

I believe there are several answers to this question.

Having an open door policy for improved communication, having patience and giving people time, providing encouragement and feedback to individuals and finally offering training and providing skills to encourage personal development.


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Although this is more a challenge to myself rather than the role, I have had to learn to stop managing and become a leader. It is certainly a new challenge to me, as I have been used to the former for the past eight years and I do have to give myself a reality check every now and then!


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

I love nothing more than doing a bit of DIY around the house! I’ve got three young daughters and I relish spending family time with my wife and children at parks, museums or going swimming. Time spent doing this is very important to me. Then to help with the stress of all of that, the odd trip to the pub!


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

Most people wouldn’t think this from meeting me but I wanted to be a vet. When I was young, our family had access to a cottage in Danby and I used to love seeing the lambs and other animals being born. I found that environment really fascinating as a child and thought it would become a job for me.


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

I can’t bear people telling white lies. I always encourage people to tell truth so when I know someone is lying and they know they are doing it, I repeatedly ask questions and push them for the truth because everyone always feels better for it.


Where do you see the company in five years time?

We have been fortunate to have good growth over the past couple of years and I definitely see us maintaining that. I see us in new offices, employing over 100 staff with a 10M+ annual turnover. Our consistent growth is a really exciting thing for us and I see no reason why we won’t continue to move forward.


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

This goes back to what I consider my biggest challenge, so I would say to make sure they are doing leadership tasks and not getting caught up in management activities and tasks.

It’s also important to understand that development in people is one of the most important things in a business – and I say that with a mentality of everyone as part of the company and not just leadership or management staff.

One of the best things I ever did was go on a leadership programme as it’s opened so many opportunities for me and allowed me to develop. I now sit on two boards as a result of it.