60 Seconds With

“Success for me is best defined as an internal sense of fulfilment”— 60 seconds with John Savage of ActionPoint

By Business & Finance
25 July 2023

John Savage is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating and Technology Officer at ActionPoint, a digital transformation services firm that is part of Viatel Technology Group.

What was your first job?

When I was thirteen, I got a job for £5 a day selling strawberries on the side of the road outside the Regional Hospital in Limerick. At the end of my first day, I took my £5 and spent most of it buying a magazine Zzap!64 for the Commodore 64, so it was great fun.

What pushed you to pursue a career in this field?

I was about eleven or twelve when my folks got me a Commodore 64 and I obviously played games on it initially. I then got a book from the library that taught me how to type in code and quickly got a ball bouncing around the screen and to me, it was simply amazing and magic.

By the time it came to fill out the CAO, I had done quite a bit of programming and found it a natural fit. It’s a very rewarding field. I loved it from the beginning and still do now.

What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

Undoubtedly, the achievement that has been the greatest due to its rarity, is that alongside my best bud from college we started a business and over the course of eighteen years, grew it into a significant enterprise.

We’ve just succeeded in what most entrepreneurs set out to achieve and managed to sell the business successfully. 

Beyond that, I believe the people and the team that we’ve built, the work ethic and our approach to cultivating a positive working culture that has allowed us to sustain that through many years of growth, is on a par.

Career wise, would you do anything differently?

I wouldn’t change anything in my career. However, if we lived in another century and this career wasn’t an option, I would have pursued law or become a lecturer because both involve skills that programmers require — including problem-solving, communication and articulating complex ideas.

In one sentence, how would you define success?

Success for me is best defined as an internal sense of fulfilment. If it’s defined by external factors, such as earning a certain amount of money or increasing the size of a business then you may never get there!

The problem is when you achieve that, you’ll then see a new external goal of “more” and you will never actually achieve a final sense of success.

Whereas if, in doing what you do, you yourself reach a sense of fulfilment and contentment personally and professionally, then that’s true success.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 

Compartmentalising your work life from your personal life will allow you to enjoy both your home life and your professional life to their fullest.

It allows you to deal with high stress work situations, but then to draw a line under them and avoid bringing them home… most of the time!

How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

I believe in intrinsic motivation over external rewards.

By showing the positive impact of your team’s work and creating a sense of internal reward, it encourages your team to do great quality work and continuously improve.

Make sure people are proud of what they do and they’ll do great!

How do you handle adversity? 

I like to use Integrative Thinking, which involves considering all perspectives involved in a dispute and starting with the premise that all parties are good-faith actors within their own perspective.

By working out what could be true in the other parties’ world to make them believe something different to you, you can then integrate that belief into your own thinking.

It really helps me to find middle ground and solve issues.

How do you relax?

I run two or three times a week and it’s great for headspace. I’ve targeted two marathons a year and I’ve just finished my ninth marathon. I hope to finish my tenth in Dublin this year.

I also love just sitting down on the couch and relaxing with my wife and kids and watching a good old kids movie. Harry Potter is a favourite at home right now!

What are your aspirations for the future of the business?

Our business has just been bought by Viatel Technology Group. We’re currently in the process of working through integrations and I want to make sure that it’s the smoothest, best, world class integration possible and that everything is set up for success.

As a group, the goal is international expansion, covering the full range of digital services from connectivity through to security, cloud and advanced artificial intelligence software solutions.

It’s a very exciting time for us as a group.


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