CEO Q&A: Pat Ryan, Abtran

Business, Interviews | Wed 15 Nov | Author – Business & Finance
pat ryan abtran
Pat Ryan, CEO, Abtran

Pat Ryan, CEO Abtran, talks having a clear focus, being open to change and upskilling people to meet future demands.

Q. What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

As an Irish multinational business process outsourcing company, our service offering to our clients is designed and delivered by people equipped with the right skills supported by appropriate technology.

My priority is to ensure that we will continue to enable our people through skills development, application of the right technological tools and rewards, together with a well-defined career pathway, to retain and motivate them. Happy and engaged people mean that our clients are satisfied as well.

Q. What are your biggest challenges as a CEO?

My biggest challenge and opportunity is the pace of change in our industry and in our clients’ businesses. We are a market leader through the level of strategic foresight that we can bring to meeting client needs and in our resource planning and allocation. We are flexible and are continually adapting to market requirements.

Q. How do you keep your team/staff motivated?

Having a clear focus, vision and strategy which is well communicated and is seen to be progressing is the key to motivation. I believe in relentless communication to ensure that everyone knows how their role fits and is relevant to the strategy. This creates a very productive and progressive working environment.

Q. What are the challenges facing your industry going forward?

Our industry is very sophisticated, it is technologically advanced and also very competitive in terms of its performance compared to any other sectors. I think it needs to better showcase the value add it is bringing to client businesses and to the economy across multiple market sectors, which is being achieved primarily through the skills of the people in the industry.

Q. What new trends are emerging in your industry?

Like all industries, AI, automation, digital and data analytics are the future technology that will transform our industry for the better in my opinion.

Work hard, keep learning and developing yourself to support your people. Focus on goals while still remaining open to changing direction as change is constant.”

Q. Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?

There is major potential for further growth by our industry at home and abroad where the development of internationally-traded services is prioritised and marketed successfully abroad. We have significant advantages to offer in terms of skills and resources and, even though the Irish cost base may be perceived to be higher, we are an open economy and very competitive in the delivery of services and in the value-add we can bring to clients and industries at home and internationally.

Q. As an employer are you finding any skills gaps in the market?

Yes and this is in common with many other sectors. We are committed to upskilling to address these gaps. Our Lean 6 Sigma cultural change programme and our bespoke MyLearning platform are supporting us in upskilling staff to meet the future demands of our industry and in retaining staff through onward career progression opportunities.

Q. How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?

Our business grew significantly from 2009 to 2015 and in tandem with this, we adjusted our cost base very quickly from January 1 2009 with support from our people. This allowed us to pass on cost reductions requested by our customers while continuing to deliver critical services to our public sector and private sector clients.

Q. How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?

Brexit will affect all sectors and all industries to varying degrees. It is already affecting our decision making and growth strategy and in some ways it will make us more flexible and agile. We have always been a very competitive company and will continue to be competitive. We would like to see as gradual a transition as possible in arrangements agreed between the UK and the EU. We are confident of continuing to be successful in the UK market in the future.

Q. How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

Positive medium- and long-term progress is what motivates me and is what I consider success.

Q. What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

Work hard, keep learning and developing yourself to support your people. Focus on goals while still remaining open to changing direction as change is constant.

Q. What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

I have two. Seeing my colleagues deliver on our Lean 6 Sigma and MyLearning investments for our people and winning a €250 million plus long-term business process outsourcing contract.

Q. What’s next for your company?

We are a people, technology and service business. We prioritise the continued development and upskilling of our people to meet the future demands of our industry.

Q. What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2018?

Our plans for 2018 will see us grow all our sectors in Ireland and the UK.

Q. Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?

I want us to be seen as a brand that makes it easy for our people to learn, grow and develop to allow our people deliver great results for our clients, which we are already achieving and will continue to do. We recently won the “Multinational of the Year Award” at the it@cork Leaders Awards – this was a real boost for us as recognition of this type from peers and industry experts really strengthens our brand profile in the industry and in the marketplace overall.