CEO Q&A: Patrick McAliskey, Novosco

Business, Interviews, Technology | Wed 17 Jan | Author – Business & Finance
Patrick McAliskey, Managing Director, Novosco

Patrick McAliskey, Managing Director of Novosco, takes on the CEO Q&A and speaks of new technologies and adapting cloud services to meet the needs of clients.

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

Above all, my priority is to ensure that we have the best people working at Novosco and that they are happy, energised and pulling in the same direction to achieve outstanding results for our clients. All of our success and our ability to continue to grow stems from this. So, my main goal is to see us living our company values of teamwork, excellence, respect and fun every day.

Q. What are your biggest challenges as CEO?

Any CEO will tell you that every day brings a new challenge, but that’s what makes it so interesting. Two ongoing challenges include the fast-changing nature of the technology sector, which means that I have to keep reading and keep learning to stay on top of, and ahead of, developments. Any CEO will also tell you that it is a job that can be quite lonely, but I try to surround myself with positive-thinking people who share my vision for Novosco.

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

This is something that we spend a lot of time on. I truly believe that every single person in the organisation can get better every day and we invest significantly to help them to do it through training and development. We also believe that the environment we create for our team is key, so we have invested in things like a staff gym, a library, a coffee dock and a virtual reality room to provide a great place to work. But above all, keeping a team motivated is about having a strong culture. We seek to be the ‘Fearless Champions of Better’ and that is something I try to embody in order to get buy-in from everyone in the team.

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

The pace of change in our industry is phenomenal, but for the large part, I see that as an opportunity as much as a challenge. On the opportunity side is the growth of cybersecurity and the expertise we now have in our team due to recent acquisition. On the challenge side, we are competing with large public cloud companies like Amazon and Microsoft who have huge resources. We need to be agile, clever and fearless in order to stay ahead.

Q. What new trends are emerging in your industry?

In addition to the growth of public cloud, we are seeing technologies like virtual reality and artificial intelligence being invested in by customers who two years ago would not have dreamt of making such an investment. It is very exciting to see this happen and also a challenge to make sure that Novosco is providing the solutions customers need in these areas.

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

I would like to see a stronger pipeline of skills coming out of education establishments across the island of Ireland. Some great work has been done to promote IT careers, but such is the growth of our sector that we need to see even greater focus in this area.

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

Skills gaps are prevalent in the IT sector across the island. There are many emerging and fast-growing companies, and there isn’t the supply of skills to fill all of the roles. We work closely with education providers to try to develop the skills. We also work hard to make Novosco an attractive place to work. But it is definitely an ongoing challenge. We are therefore creating opportunities for apprenticeships at Novosco, and we have brought in an internal recruiter to support our recruitment efforts.

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

We were very fortunate that we had our best growth years during the banking and economic crisis. At that time, we were expanding our business outside of Ireland, which really fuelled our growth. Ireland remains our home and our core market, but our success in entering and succeeding in England has cemented our ambition to continue to grow in overseas markets.

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

The only real impact to date on our business from the UK’s decision to leave the UK has been in relation to the exchange rate, as sterling has devalued. Longer term, any impact on economic confidence could influence investment decisions by our clients, including their willingness to invest in IT. Other than that, we don’t yet know what Brexit is going to look like, so it’s hard to say what impact it will have. But as a business that operates across Ireland and the UK, it’s something we continue to watch closely.

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

We have clear goals in terms of growth, revenue and profitability. But what really drives me is the value I see our team delivering for their clients and hearing how strongly clients advocate Novosco as a result. We use the globally-recognised Net Promoter Score (NPS) to measure how likely our customers are to recommend us. Above zero is good (many get less than zero). If you are getting an NPS above 50, you are considered to be doing really well. Novosco’s most recent NPS was 70. This is considered world class and puts us alongside the most customer-centric organisations in the world, including the likes of Apple.

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

It’s a simple piece of advice but one that I think people forget – keep learning. I continually encourage and support our team to learn and develop, and I think it is important for business leaders to do so, too. I think too many people are so busy doing their job that they don’t spend enough focused time learning new things, developing new skills and broadening their horizons.

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

We’ve done some fantastic business in the past 12 months, including with global financial companies, major universities, some of the largest NHS trusts in the UK and one of the biggest housing associations in London. This includes our biggest-ever contract to date, which will be a real catalyst for further growth in our footprint and headcount.

Q. What’s next for the company?

We have just finished integrating a recently-acquired company into the Novosco family. This has been very successful, adding expertise, bringing in some fantastic new clients and expanding our business in the UK market. The next step will be to build on this, potentially including some further strategic acquisitions.

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

We see real opportunities to grow organically in 2018, including in some of our key vertical markets such as the NHS and housing associations. But we also want to explore further acquisitions, and we will be seeking opportunities to acquire the right business that will help take Novosco to the next level. Watch this space.

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

Novosco’s ambition is to be the best managed cloud provider in the UK and Ireland. I want to see us make further significant progress along that road. This will include growing our headcount, expanding our office space, adding new clients and building the skills of our people.

It’s a simple piece of advice but one that I think people forget – keep learning. I continually encourage and support our team to learn and develop, and I think it is important for business leaders to do so, too. I think too many people are so busy doing their job that they don’t spend enough focused time learning new things, developing new skills and broadening their horizons.

Novosco has delivered enterprise-level hosting services to mid-market organisations in the UK and Ireland for the past 20 years, and its industry-leading service levels have allowed them to keep all their customers ever since.

Novosco advises on and delivers the industry’s best technologies for each customer’s specific need. Its consultants expertly choose the most appropriate solutions by leveraging a portfolio of public cloud, private cloud and a combination of platforms.