Andrew Stellakis is a self-confessed geek. Heading up IT firm Q2Q is more than geekery to him, though, as he explains his passion for a passionate workforce.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
I ensure that Q2Q is delivering and developing services that allow our customers to become more efficient, without having to worry about IT headaches.
Plus, it’s my job to provide everyone within my team with a clear vision of where the business is headed.
Finally, I also ensure that software such as security, contingency and disaster protection are all running invisibly in the background of clients’ businesses.
What is it the company does?
Q2Q provides IT support, consultancy and development services across a variety of sectors.
These range from the classic day-to-day support – which we refer to as ‘Your IT Department’ – through to mentoring and even IT director services.
We have also built up an in-house development team, due to demand from customers, meaning that we can provide full e-commerce services to clients, such as Lyle & Scott.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I was a geek, but that was before the term became mainstream! I was programming at 11 years old, so when I got my first ‘proper job’ – almost 26 years ago – I already had a bit of a head start.
Starting on a helpdesk, I worked my way up through most of the top-level disciplines, such as tech support, business systems analyst, developer, IT manager, IT director and finally, group IT director for a venture capitalist firm.
Whilst being employed by this company, I was given the opportunity to head up a new firm – Q2Q – which provided support to 27 group companies. In 2013, I undertook a buyout option and the ownership was transferred to me in 2014.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
I believe that a great leader must have a burning passion that is at the core of everything they do, which should come across in their behaviour and communication with staff.
It’s also important to provide the right conditions to allow people to grow. Give them space to breathe and let them visualise how achievable the next step in their career is. I believe this creates a team who will have a perpetual drive and a desire to be more amazing today than they were yesterday.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
The transition from group director of Q2Q to owning the business myself has been a personal challenge. Moving from being someone who is a ‘do-er’, to needing to be far more strategic, has certainly been a change.
I would also say that having to increase my tolerance of risk – given I have spent my career reducing threats for businesses – has been a stretch.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Three things – firstly, I’m a runner. Secondly, I take regular, small breaks to Beddgelert in Wales with my wife and dog. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I spend regular time with my granddaughter. She doesn’t care how great or bad my day is, so she provides me with a fantastic reality check of what really matters in life.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an electrician or a train driver, but at 12 years old was told that as I was colour blind, that was never going to happen!
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
We have five company values at Q2Q. These are collaboration, responsibility, clarity, efficiency and fun – terms which we determined as a team. Any behaviour or decision that isn’t in-keeping with these will get called out!
Where do you see the company in five years time?
Q2Q has achieved fantastic growth in the last few years and we have learned some valuable lessons from expanding at a rate faster than anticipated.
We now have a keen focus around accreditation, so in May 2017 we’ll be awarded ISO27001 – alongside our ISO9001 – for our specialism in IT security.
We also have further plans in the pipeline – not to mention some great ideas for divergence which will help secure future growth.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Whatever you think your existing customers value about your business, product or service is probably wrong!
It’s important to be clear on what your customer actually thinks is important and why they like working with you. Uncover this and you’re better equipped to keep delivering the experience that will keep them coming back for more, not turn them away.