Meet the MD: Chris McLaughlin of MIS Active Management Systems

Meet the MD: Chris McLaughlin of MIS Active Management Systems

MIS is a technology firm, who supply housing management systems in the UK, under the leadership of Chris McLaughlin. He explains to BQ why communication is so important to him, and the big event that made him value his work-life balance.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words

My role is to direct our strategy towards the profitable growth and operation of the company. It’s my responsibility to set the longer-term objectives of MIS AMS and to be the top of the tree when it comes to driving new business, implementing new systems, developing new products and investigating new markets. I also want to ensure I create a culture in which we see an abundance of new clients and staff joining us.

What is it the company does?

MIS Active Management Systems is the leading supplier of housing management systems in the UK. We have been providing solutions to social housing organisations for over 25 years, with our current client portfolio ranging from 300 to over 40,000 homes.  We provide these organisations with the most advanced housing solutions available enabling them to work smarter. 

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

Having always had some sort of job since the age of 12, I eventually got my big break as part of my university placement scheme landing a job at PricewaterhouseCoopers.  I worked in the IT department doing application testing. I soon worked my way up the ranks into project management. When I eventually left PwC I was project managing the IT rebrand of all 1200+ IT systems.

I then joined Morrison Facility Services (MFS) as a senior project manager mobilising new contracts. After 2 years MFS was purchased by Mears Group and I became the regional manager for Mears. 

After a year and a half at Mears I saw an opening at MIS Active Management Systems and went back into IT as a corporate services director in charge of marketing, sales and new business. 

With sales, turnover and staff count having increased by 20% in the two years of being at MIS AMS I was made managing director in 2013.

What do you believe makes a great leader?

Communication is the key, I have always, no matter what my position, communicated in a personable way to both team members and clients alike. I am always picking up the phone to clients, meeting them for coffee, and making time to engage with my colleagues in the office. I have always been clear where I want to take the business and what I need from my team to make that happen.

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

The biggest challenge is resourcing.  As we are constantly evolving our products and growing with new customers it is hard to establish that happy balance, questioning do we have enough or too little resource. With recently hiring five more team members I guess I like to be prepared and not over-work and stress out my current team as we evolve and grow.

I always find myself trying to predict what might happen next or in the next five years so we can be more than ready! Working in technology means we have to be one step ahead of trends and advances across our sector.

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

My initial answer to this question over the years has always been ‘to work longer hours’. However, since getting married and having my young daughter I do believe a worklife balance is a must! I now make sure I have time and energy for interests outside of the office - I have been working on restoring a period property and spend my evenings and weekends having quality time with my family. I find having down-time helps me think more clearly and be even more focused on a Monday morning.

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

A children's TV presenter. Don't ask me why, but for some reason it appealed to me.

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

No matter what role I have been in there are always people who try to avoid being accountable for their actions, when at the end of the day everyone makes mistakes and the quicker we are to admit them the quicker we are to fix them.  It’s not a failing.

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

There is such a large market in the housing sector so I would like to see us take a larger share of that market and have a more powerful role, as well as looking at other possible directions that the product could go in.  If these are successful we may look at forming other smaller companies to meet those demands.

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Have an aim and never give up, there are plenty of routes to the top - and if you don’t succeed on one there is no harm in trying another.