Since tapping into a market opportunity nearly 30 years ago, Mike Pound and his co-founder have grown Qualsys to a 50-strong team serving companies in 124 countries. He talks to BQ about their ambitions to grow to a workforce of 200 and taking pride in the company's Sheffield roots.
What is it the company does?
Back in 1995, I founded the company with a mission to make governance, risk and compliance easier. Now, our software is used by global brands such as BT, Diageo, Virgin Media, Honeywell Global and hospitality giant Sodexo, the 13th largest employer in the world. It’s transformational on company culture – enabling every employee to take responsibility and own their process. Our software and services help businesses to eliminate common frustrations, chaos and contradictions.
The Qualsys range of electronic quality management system (EQMS) products standardise processes, underpin corporate governance and provide a robust framework for managing risk, all while driving down cost, increasing a client’s competitive edge and helping customers remove the burden of a vast array of compliance regulations and international standards.
We are proud of our Sheffield roots, too. Over 90% of our staff and three of our five directors are graduates of the city’s two universities.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words.
I am managing director for Qualsys, a governance, risk and compliance software company based in Sheffield. We employ 50 people and support major household names on every continent across the manufacturing, life science and food and drink sectors. My role involves creating long and short-term business plans, directing strategy and empowering our department heads to achieve their goals.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I trained as a systems analyst with the Ministry of Defence, before becoming IT procurement manager for the employment department at Moorfoot in Sheffield. I then moved to head up the government division sales team of Apricot Computers plc (later to become ACT). In 1995, I established Qualsys with my colleague Mike Bendall when we realised we could create high-functioning management systems ourselves. Organisations in 124 countries now rely on the company’s flagship EQMS software system.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Providing employees with the skills and development opportunities they need. We have a generous professional development budget for our staff as our company culture is focused on developing and promoting staff from within. It’s all about empowering your employees.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Orchestrating different areas of the business and managing growth, which I think is more difficult with a creative team. It’s about listening to people.
Qualsys’ revenues have doubled in the last 12 months and the order book for 2019 is strong. A 30% growth plan in staffing will see a recruitment drive throughout 2019 and there are ambitious five-year targets - revenues of £50m and a 200-strong Sheffield workforce by 2024.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Playing golf and spending time with my daughters Eve and Daisy - or reading their social media posts while they are away at University!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about then?
I don’t like micromanaging. I like to employ people who are good at getting the tasks done.
Where do you see the company in five years' time?
With new regulations such as the Senior Managers’ Regime, GDPR, the Modern Slavery Act and more, there needs to be thorough records that businesses are taking positive steps to stay compliant, manage risks and for leadership to effectively govern the company. Every organisation in the world is realising they can’t compete without having a central governance, risk and compliance management system. We had record growth in 2018. This is only set to continue in the next five years.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Always employ people who are smarter than you.
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