Meet the MD: Andrew Muir of FarrPoint

Meet the MD: Andrew Muir of FarrPoint

Andrew Muir is the MD of independent IT and networking consultancy, Farrpoint. He spoke to BQ about how he went from lobster fisherman to a founding director of a successful IT business, and where he plans to go from here...

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.

I head up the FarrPoint team and am one of the founding directors. I focus mostly on growing the business by developing opportunities, identifying new target areas and promoting our team and the great work that FarrPoint does. I also manage resources and overall financial performance. I’m still hands on with project delivery where I may lead teams or contribute across IT and networking projects, and in particular around the promotion and advancement of digital infrastructure including broadband developments. 


What is it the company does?

FarrPoint is an independent IT and networking consultancy that excels in the provision of pragmatic, independent advice on IT infrastructure and connectivity. We have four pillars of service: strategic advice and high level technical designs; specification and sourcing; implementation management; and technical assurance and reviews. We work with major organisations in the public and private sectors primarily across the UK but our reach is global. Some of our clients include Kwik Fit, Total, TAQA and Clarks to the Scottish Government, NHS, SQA and London Borough of Greenwich.


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

I always wanted to be a prawn fisherman like my father and my friends in the northwest Highlands, but I was politely encouraged to get a degree. I studied Communication and Electronic Engineering at Napier University. After graduation I returned home and was a lobster fisherman for a year before I was again politely encouraged to use my degree in an engineering job. I worked for BT Research Labs in Ipswich, returned to academia to do my PhD and lecture and then spent five years learning system and networking skills within a public sector organisation. In the mid 90s I joined a telecom consultancy company where I managed the Scottish portion as it grew and merged into an international outfit. In 2007 I decided to set up FarrPoint with two fellow directors.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

For me it’s someone who respects others, cares about people and appreciates their input. They are honest in what they do, care about the quality of the work they produce and have pride in the organisation they lead.


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Probably the biggest challenge is identifying personnel to help grow and develop the business. Consultancy is a challenging role as you must have excellent technical understanding, communication skills and know how to listen, digest and understand. Also essential are the commercial skills to scope out and deliver projects to the client’s satisfaction. It can be a hard combination to find.


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

Doing something different on weekends and getting out of the city is always good. The opportunities for sea or fly-fishing are never frequent enough for me. I also really enjoy my motorcycle, which I use to commute when in the city as much as I can. It really concentrates your mind and a weekend exploration on the bike in the countryside is always good fun. And, as she may read this, spending time with my wife is number one.


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

Initially I wanted to be a salmon net fisherman with the family business, then a creel fisherman with my own boat working out of the northwest highlands.


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

Meetings with no purpose and no actions - I try to avoid them at all costs.  Also, people who try to spin a line and are not open and honest, again I just try to avoid them.


Where do you see the company in five years time?

I would like to see FarrPoint grow to around 20 consultants and be recognised as a leader in our field in more areas outside of Scotland. I would like us to continue to be highly respected by our clients and our staff for the quality of our work and approach to business.


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Think about your market and why someone would want to buy your product or service. Understand the commercials including what it is going to cost and what can you charge. Depending on the end goal, think about how your business could scale in the future. Take advice wherever you can get it. Most importantly, make sure your business is something you are passionate about and want to do, then go do it.