Eoin Goulding, speaking at the 2013 Business & Finance Awards.
Winner of the AIB Enterprise of the Year Award 2013, Eoin Goulding from Integrity Solutions talks to Business & Finance about future growth plans for the firm.
In 2005, when US company Align Communications moved out of Ireland, Integrity Solutions were quick to see, and seize, a gap in the Irish market.
It was humble beginnings for the trio of entrepreneurs – Eoin Goulding as managing director, Sean Rooney as technical director and Anthony Walsh as sales director started the company from a basement in Percy Place, Dublin 4. “We had one client and got paid for the work upfront. It was a small operation to begin with, but from there we have continued to grow,” recalls Goulding.
One thing that Goulding is keen to stress off the bat is the entrepreneurs’ ethos of constantly reinvesting back into the company, which they see as being crucially important to the growth and development of the firm.
After three years in Percy Place, Integrity Solutions moved to an office in Sandyford, and after two years there, it was necessary to move again to larger premises to facilitate growth. “We are now looking at moving again due to further expansion and are looking at getting somewhere three times the size of our existing premises,” Goulding explains. “We started off with a focus on technical expertise and that philosophy still remains today. We also place an emphasis on getting our technical team skilled up to the highest levels possible.”
Year on year Integrity Solutions has grown between 25% and 35%. The company has gone from three employees in 2005 to 55 employees currently, with plans to hire 20 more people in 2014. “We appreciate that the reason for our growth is as a result of the continued confidence our clients place in us as their security partner, and because of this we’ve gone from one client in 2005 to more than 300 today,” Goulding adds.
Of course there have been many casualties of the recent recession and trading conditions are still tough, especially for early stage enterprises. But according to Goulding, the opposite is true of Integrity. “If anything the recession has actually helped us,” he says. “Companies are trying to get the most out of their security infrastructure and are using what they have already. Given the nature of the industry things will never stay still for long so as I see it there will always be a requirement for security.” Equally, Goulding is optimistic that companies are now looking at projects that two years ago they wouldn’t have considered.
Building a team
Equally, keeping pace with changes and developments in the IT industry can be a challenge, but according to Goulding keeping up with the growth of the company itself is the biggest challenge.
“We’ve been expanding since the word go, so trying to keep a structure internally has been demanding. We implemented ISO standards quite early on though which has helped greatly with this. Getting the right people is also sometimes tough to do but we take a considerable amount of time to find the right person for each job.”
On the plus side, there are many rewards for Goulding and his team and again he refers to the employees as being central to the success of the business. “Seeing our people develop is a major plus for us, not just professionally but also personally. A lot of our staff stay with us for a long time and it’s refreshing to see them grow and develop. Taking on new team members and working with new clients is also rewarding. We work very closely with our clients and that’s how we build our business. A lot of our business is repeat business and the relationships we build with our clients are extremely important to us.”
In relalation to the industry as a whole, according to Goulding there has been shift towards managed security services where infrastructures can be monitored 24×7 by security analysts. “Companies are realising that they don’t need to have the expert security skillsets in house, that these functions can be managed externally much more efficiently,” he explains. “It makes a lot more sense for clients to be monitored in real time from a threat centre that can react to any issues and also pre-empt them,” Goulding adds.
With the large number of daily security breaches occuring, Goulding thinks there will be more ‘focus on incident’ response plans put into place over the next number of years. “It’s not acceptable anymore for companies to have no plan should something happen. Not only are companies looking at prevention but remediation is also becoming a key area of security projects,” he says.
In late 2013, Integrity Solutions entered and beat stiff competition to win the AIB sponsored Enterprise of the Year Award at the Business & Finance Awards. The enterprise award was established as part of the awards programme in 2010 and the business success of previous winners is a testament to the calibre of entrants on a yearly basis. “The awards are totally independent and we wanted a non-bias endorsement that would make the hard work of our entire team worthwhile,” Goulding enthuses.
According to Goulding the win is reflective of the contribution of the entire team at Integrity Solutions.
“The award is recognition of our company’s growth and potential and the fact that it is chosen by an independent and highly regarded judging panel is something that gives reassurance to both existing and potential clients and proves that Integrity is a strong. Above all though, it has also given recognition to the staff for their dedication and hard work and has definitely boosted staff morale,” he adds.
Resilience and commitment
Ken Burke, head of Business Banking at AIB, says Integrity Solutions impressed the judging panel with their determination, resilience and commitment to their business and employees.
“For the judging panel, Integrity Solutions combines the strengths of the technology and service sectors and strong growth capability in Ireland and overseas,” Burke says.
“They impressed the judges with their passion for their business, the growth they have achieved both domestically and in the UK, and their continued strong focus on their employees. They are truly a worthy recipient of the Enterprise of the Year Award.”
Burke adds that the Enterprise of the Year Awards are crucially important for growing businesses. “These awards provide a unique and exciting opportunity for businesses to showcase their innovative ideas, successes and achievements. It is also an opportunity to network with industry leaders and gain national exposure.
He adds: “This is an award that publicly recognises the achievements of SME companies that have been in existence for less than 10 years and have not only demonstrated their ability to succeed in their chosen sector but have also demonstrated the capability and ambition to succeed both domestically, and in many cases, in overseas markets.”
Burke also believes that the benefits of winning this award for Integrity Solutions will be far reaching. “They will receive mentoring and business advice from some of Ireland’s most successful business and corporate professionals and access and networking opportunities with Ireland’s most influential and successful corporate leaders. They will also receive global and national business development and new business opportunities. Being associated with the AIB Enterprise of the Year Award is a mark of excellence, with global recognition.”
Boosting staff morale
Already, 2014 is set to be a busy year for the team at Integrity Solutions with plans to take on a further 20 people for its Security Operations Centre and open a new international office.
In addition to winning the highly coveted Enterprise of the Year Award in 2013, Integrity also enjoyed further recognition at the highest levels for its growth and for being a great place to work. Integrity was placed in the Deloitte Fast50 for Ireland’s fastest growing technology companies for the fourth year in a row, was placed in the top three companies in Ireland in the ICT Company of the Year category and Best Place to Work in IT at the 2013 ICT Excellence Awards.
“We are very committed to making Integrity a great place to work,” Goulding says. This includes providing world-class training, continuous career development, flexible work practices and a wide range of initiatives to promote a better work/life balance.”
One such initiative was to supply every member of the team with a customised bicycle from Funked Up Fixies. “This has encouraged everybody to cycle to work and also to client meetings. It has been a huge success with employees feeling healthier, and it’s also good for the environment and great marketing for Integrity as our branded bikes have been spotted throughout Dublin,” he says.
Goulding is keen to reiterate that the growth and success of the business has been down to the excellent team and not down to any single individuals. “We’re looking forward to taking on even more new people and expanding our team over the coming months,” he adds.
AIB’s Ken Burke concludes: “At AIB we are very proud to be associated with the recognition of all the nominated companies in these awards. We hope the story of Integrity Solutions encourages and inspires other SMEs to similar success, as Integrity Solutions clearly illustrate that amidst all the challenges there are many companies rising to meet that challenge and are thriving in the process.”
Integrity Solutions: At a glance
Integrity Solutions is Ireland’s largest IT security specialist. Founded in 2005 in Ireland, and with offices in Dublin, London and Glasgow, it provides a comprehensive security portfolio which includes security policy design, implementation, audits, authentication, intrusion detection, managed security services and training.
It also partners with many of the leading international security vendors, and all of its employees are technically skilled and accredited to the highest levels.
With increasingly sophisticated security attacks occurring all the time, Integrity’s proactive and tailored solutions and its managed security services’ team protects customers and their networks to ensure confidential assets and data are never compromised.