James Baird has been inspired by the integrity his grandad and father displayed, as he has navigated his career through being an electrician, starting his first business in electrical services and his current business, Dynamic Networks Group. He talks to BQ about his business and lessons he has learned throughout his career.
What is it the company does?
We help our clients use IT support, cybersecurity, networks, infrastructure and automation to work smarter. Our services include: putting the right IT infrastructures and support in place to help organisations run smoothly; making sure they are protected against cyber attacks; advising on and deploying the latest technological innovations to automate buildings and business processes; and installing access and security, entertainment, lighting and home entertainment systems in new build and housing refurbishment projects. We combine traditional customer service values with the latest technological innovations, and our team has built a strong reputation with an impressive track record of work in the region.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
My role is to lead the business and the team in our drive to 'work smarter' and help our clients do the same. I’m evaluating new technologies all the time and incorporating those that can help overcome the systems challenges we face into our business. I’m responsible for leading and developing the team, and I’m in regular contact with clients and potential clients, listening to and understanding the IT, systems and network challenges they’re facing to make sure that the systems and solutions we deliver address real business needs.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I trained as an electrician in 2003, following roles in construction, hospitality and financial services. My first job as an electrician was with a Leeds-based contractor, but I always knew that I wanted to run my own business. I set up my own electrical services company in 2006 and merged with a Yorkshire IT firm in 2008 to head up and build a networks and electrical division within the company. I ran and grew that division successfully for seven years before buying out of the group, rebranding and launching Dynamic Networks Group as a stand-alone business in 2015.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Having a strong, clear vision, leading by example and working hard to make sure that everyone in the business buys into the vision and their role in delivering it. This can be challenging in a fast-growing business, where things are changing on an almost daily basis, but keeping the business on track and supporting and inspiring the people who will deliver the vision are crucial, I think.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
It’s one of the biggest challenges that comes with fast growth: finding the right people, quickly, so that we can continue to deliver great service as the business grows. We’ve found that our apprenticeship drive has really helped us find the right people that can learn and grow with us.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I do find it difficult to switch off: my mind is always active. But spending time with my family and watching my son play football helps me unwind and get that balance.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was inspired most by my late grandad and father who both worked in construction; I remember that their integrity shone through above everything else. I value the times I worked in hospitality and financial services in different countries, which helped me build lots of different skills, many of which I still use today, but I always found myself drawn back to a desire to run my own business.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
People in the past who haven’t fit in well with the culture and the ethos of the business. Those that don’t fit in don’t stay very long in a business that moves as fast as ours. We’re putting more emphasis on trying to find the right people from the start of a recruitment drive.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
I hope the business continues to grow at the rate it has done so far, but never loses sight of paying close attention to our loyal customers who have helped us to this point. We want to always remember our goal to become the go-to brand for IT, cybersecurity, networks and infrastructure and automation in Yorkshire.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Recruit people whose approach and values match yours. Skills can be taught, but the right attitude can’t and there’s a huge cost that comes with employing the wrong people.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
That the key to success is to do what you say you’re going to do, at all times. It’s simple and blindingly obvious but is the best piece of business advice I’ve been given since starting out.
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