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ITIL Specialist reunites with Network ROI
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ITIL Specialist reunites with Network ROI

Richard Smith has been appointed the Service Delivery Manager for Network ROI. He previously worked at Network ROI as the Client Services Manager.

He brings 35 years’ experience from a career in information technology, having worked in many large corporates including Royal London, Unisys, Scottish Provident, Edinburgh Airport, Murray Group, Lloyds, RBS, Clydesdale Bank and Virgin Money.

Richard said “I join Network ROI at an exciting time, with the chance to help develop and shape the companies service delivery management. As an employee-owned business, I have the opportunity to positively influence the company’s future direction, be part of the decision making and mentor colleagues in the service desk team.”

Keith Bevan, CEO, said “Our clients are the heart of our business, so this role represents one of our most important core activities, where the ITIL framework helps shape our data-driven decision-making business model and gives our customers the peace of mind that we are committed to delivering exceptional service standards. Richard brings not only a deep understanding of best practice but a key understanding of how this can be applied to our diverse UK client base.”

Defy Your Limitations
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Defy Your Limitations

Lucy Ashton talks about her biggest life challenges, the importance of employee wellness, how she boosted her self-confidence, and how employee ownership is evolving at Network ROI.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all

The unexpected death of Lucy’s brother Martin aged just 50, in May this year was devastating. On Martin’s woodland grave the quote reads;

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all

The quote symbolises how he led his life, and how Lucy wants to follow in his footsteps.  It made Lucy release how precious time is and hearing about all the adventures Martin did during his life inspired Lucy to make a bucket list of all the things she would like to achieve in the coming years.

Overcoming her fears

After having children Lucy began suffering with severe anxiety and depression leading to a lack of confidence. This included fear of loud noises, busy environments or simply being out of the house.  She was eventually diagnosed with an underactive thyroid and openly tells people about her struggles in the hope to put an end to the stigma.

Eight years ago, she found a passion that helped her deal with her anxiety head-on, that was the day she joined Crossfit Teesside. A local box (that’s what Crossfit gyms are called) where you lift heavyweights in a noisy, busy, open environment, all her worst fears!

After speaking with the Head Coach Lee and working through a private “On-Ramp” induction course Lucy’s confidence grew. At Crossfit, no two days are the same and it is now a part of her daily life. She has even managed to compete in the stadium alongside hundreds of other competitors due to the confidence she’s gained from Crossfit

Lucy describes the experience

At first it was a bit overwhelming, but over time being a Crossfitter has helped me mentally focus and overcome my fears, competing really helped me come out of my shell and build up my self-confidence, but the support and community are what keeps me going back every day.

If an opportunity comes along, say yes to it!

Defy Your Limitations is Crossfit Teesside’s motto and has become emblematic of the way Lucy now lives her life. She even has it tattooed on her body along with the Crossfit Teesside logo! Despite the Coronavirus pandemic, Lucy has wasted no time in achieving some of the goals she set herself for 2020. She started the year by aiming to do her first duathlon which was a 2-mile run, 10-mile cycle, 2-mile run. She then decided to join one of her training partners doing a half marathon indoor row. After spending every day in lockdown walking and running she decided to run/walk/hobble a marathon distance along the Cleveland Way with her daughter. Wanting to put all that training to good use and to do something that her brother had wanted to do, she has now signed up to do an Ultra Marathon, that’s 100k round the Lake District next year in one day!

The importance of Employee Wellness

Another passion of Lucy’s is her role as a Wellness Coach at Weight Watchers.  Lucy explains how she motivates her members;

I believe anyone can exercise, young or old, fit or unfit. Losing weight is about building healthy habits for life, with no foods being off-limits. Even during the lockdown, it’s important people get out. I told my class that this week’s challenge was to go for a walk and get wet in the rain, your skin’s waterproof after all!.

Lucy Ashton joined Network ROI 14 months ago to work as our HR administrator.  Her role was initially to maintain our personnel database but now it has evolved into being much more people focussed. Lucy explained what she enjoys most about her role “I am a people person, even when we are working remotely and not in offices it’s important to talk to people, get to know your colleagues, and build rapport. At Weight Watchers I love interviewing people and peeling back the layers to get to the heart of what motivates them,” this is a skill she is putting to good use when chatting to the Network ROI remote workforce, “I feel Network ROI, being employee-owned genuinely cares about employee wellness. I like to think I am approachable, and people can talk to me about anything in confidence. I like the fact that we have an open-door policy, even when that open door is a Teams call on video these days”.

What makes Network ROI different from other companies?

Lucy feels Network ROI is evolving “I feel the senior management team are very approachable, no question is too daft to ask. I see how hard everyone works, going above and beyond for our clients, this makes me want to do more in my role. For me it’s about making people’s lives easier, whether that’s developing a “working from home” checklist, building improved HR procedures, creating a smooth induction process for new employees, or helping build useful information into our HR portal.  I love being busy and it’s great to have variety in my role”.

Overcoming daily challenges

Lucy explained that she is a big believer in positive energy and tries to go to bed thinking about three positive things that have happened that day. Lucy laughed when asked one thing that she hadn’t shared with her colleagues;

Fitness is part of my life, I work out before and after work, five days a week and I am proud of the fact that I can lift my own body weight above my head. But although I am focussed on healthy living, I don’t like fruit and veg, it’s something I need to push myself to eat every day.

Network ROI

At Network ROI we have a shared purpose. We are not just employees, we are employee-owners. With a strong culture and an emphasis on training, we believe our people are our greatest asset. We look after our people, so they’re ready to look after your people. Working with Network ROI, you have a UK-wide team of technology experts available to help with strategy, give you feedback on your plans, and guide your business growth. You’re getting more than an “IT person”—you’re getting a strategy team.

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The Modest Mentor

Greig McKenzie talks about his career journey at Network ROI, his personal career evolution to becoming a Training and Development Manager, the transformative power of learning, and how employee ownership changes the workplace culture for the better.

Training isn’t about just transmitting information; it’s about transforming learners’ careers.

Starting Out

Greig grew up as a logical thinker with a fascination for computers (Sinclair ZX80 and Commodore 64 to name but a few). Greig was even programming from an early age and as an analytical thinker, his guidance teacher recommended to him that he should build a career in the burgeoning tech industry. So Greig went on to study Systems Analysis and Design. That was what first drew him to work in technology.

Greig started at Network ROI as a level 3 engineer 8 years ago, but his views on what makes a great workplace culture started way before that. He learned from two wise business owners, Colin and Mick, that mentoring was about more than just offering guidance, but someone who can give you daily the confidence you need to progress in your career path.

Working in what was then a smaller Network ROI, his role soon evolved and he became the go-to person for other engineers, moving from being a Level 3 Engineer, through “Service Desk Mentor” to the “Training and Development Manager” he is today.

There is no typical week for Greig, but he relishes the varied challenges, from delving into training, HR policies and onboarding new employees to overseeing the Quality Management certification.  But he still enjoys helping engineers with technical issues and has even become a shoulder to cry on for some if engineers have had a tough day.

Successful onboarding

Greig explains more about the approach he takes “It’s a bit like seeing a learner driver on the road, you have two choices, you can be very impatient and honk your horn, or you can ease off the accelerator and think ‘I was a learner once, show a bit of patience’”. Greig prefers the latter more tolerant and understanding approach.

Greig talks about expectation setting and how it’s a two-way street. “In the beginning, I try to connect with people to identify what they are good at and how to do it even better. I strongly believe in this collaborative approach to the personal development of people and I love helping people start on the road to fulfilling their potential. It’s about developing a pathway for success within Network ROI, finding one area they can become an expert in, and building on that. To me, it’s a privilege to be one of the first people to meet and get to know a new employee. We have a strong focus on life-long learning, being an employee-owned organisation, so onboarding never really ends; rather, it morphs into employee engagement and retention.”

Network ROI’s approach to training

“We might be an IT company, but we are in the relationships business”

Greig describes Network ROI’s approach to training and development from a comment made by Sean Elliot, the Chairman and founder of Network ROI who said “We might be an IT company, but we are in the relationships business”. Greig went on to explain that what Sean meant by that was that it’s not worth burning a client relationship over a short-term profit if by doing so you lose that customers hard-earned trust. So, when Grieg trains employees he talks about our values-based culture and the importance of building trust with clients.

In a practical sense when Greig is training new staff on Network ROI values, he feels the soft skills matter as much as the technical qualifications. “I tell engineers to always do what they say they will, and how important it is to own a problem.”. When talking about how to treat customers Greig explains the importance of being down to earth, yet professional, when engaging with customers “we should talk to people like real people, that can mean dropping the Sir or Madam, as that can be a barrier to deeper interaction”.

Greig went on to talk about the Network ROI culture and how it differs from other companies “As an employee-owned company and as a more flexible organisation, I like to think that when we hire someone we look at the whole person and what they have to offer, rather than pigeonholing them. I like to think staff feel they can approach the board and senior management, we have a relatively flat hierarchy, so senior management is on hand to listen to the entire workforce.”

Greig talked about what he sees as one of the most important aspects of the company’s culture “At Network ROI we don’t have  a blame culture, issues that come up are a learning exercise, a springboard for improvement, we can all learn from our mistakes. We have a value-driven one team approach to our culture, and our staff are empowered through Employee Ownership.”

Greig spoke about continuous learning and lifelong education at Network ROI “We are focused on continual process improvement right across our business through aligning ourselves to best practice in ISO management system standards in Quality Management, Information Security Management and Service Management.  As our business is constantly evolving and improving, so must we. Lifelong education is important to Network ROI, so when someone wants to pursue a course of study, we do our best to satisfy that wish.  This will sometimes involve training someone not for the role they currently occupy, but for the role they are aiming for.  One of the joys of working in a smaller organisation is the ability to evolve your role over time – I believe I’m testament to that!”

Working Remotely

Last March, Network ROI’s employees shifted from working in offices to working from home (WFH) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional, classroom-based training at Network ROI stopped — yet our business operations clearly had to continue.

Network ROI evoked its well-rehearsed business continuity plan, so it was relatively straightforward for the workforce to move to fully remote working during the lockdown. But when days, became weeks it was important that we all stayed in touch said Greig, “For me personally it was a big help to have remote staff meetings and interact with my colleagues. I missed the banter and it was a good feeling when people approached me during and after lockdown”.

What are your passions when away from work?

Like many who work in IT Greig has a big interest in gaming as he explains “I am a gamer, I am never happier than sitting in my den surrounded by glowing electronics. When I am not gaming or hanging out with the family, I am a huge movie fan and love Japanese gore films.” “I came to family life quite late on and it’s changed my life, my wife and two step kids mean everything to me”.

Greig was asked if there is something that not many of his colleagues know about him and went on to describe one of his passions “when the clocks go back in October, I love to look up at the night sky.  Still, dark nights are a great relaxation, especially if I get the chance to go to an area of the country where there are true dark skies and little light pollution, you see so much more and I am in my element as there is so much to discover!”

Network ROI

At Network ROI we have a shared purpose. We are not just employees, we are employee-owners. With a strong culture and an emphasis on training, we believe our people are our greatest asset. We look after our people, so they’re ready to look after your people. Working with Network ROI, you have a UK-wide team of technology experts available to help with strategy, give you feedback on your plans, and guide your business growth. You’re getting more than an “IT person”—you’re getting a strategy team.

 

The Long Road to Recovery
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The Long Road to Recovery

By day Stuart Gunn works for Network ROI as a technical dispatcher, but Stuart has another passion, fast bikes.

Back on the 12th of March 2002, the day of his accident, Stuart’s life was changed forever.

Stuart was on his way to a hospital appointment, riding his beloved motorbike (a Kawasaki ZX6R) in Edinburgh when a car pulled out in front of him, with no time to react he was catapulted into the air. Despite his feet crashing through the windscreen and his head and shoulders through the sunroof, Stuart tried to get up and walk. Immediately falling down again, he knew something was very wrong. When the hospital examined him, they discovered he had broken his back in three places, broken four ribs, and injured the same shoulder he was going to the hospital for treatment on (from a previous accident).

Losing everything

In the face of undergoing 10 months of arduous rehab, Stuart still tried to hold down his job (whilst still in a wheelchair) as an engineer with IBM. But with a territory covering the length and breadth of Scotland it became clear that he was struggling and in March 2004 Stuart agreed to be made redundant.

Over the next few years, Stuart worked as a contractor and worked for some large corporations, such as Standard Life as a network engineer.

But then Stuart faced yet his biggest challenge, following a seizure, he started losing his sight. Stuart described losing his sight “Everything just went black. It was my worst nightmare, overnight I lost everything, my income, my house, car, and the ability to ride motorbikes”.

Adapting to a new life

Stuart used his IT skills to learn to cope with his new life, using his IT skills to work out angles in his head to create a new level of awareness. He enlisted on a Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) course, using JAWS speech software. Not only did Stuart become highly competent himself, but he also started helping others.

By the start of 2010, Stuart had lost his house and job at Standard Life. Stuart thought his life could not get any worse, until he was attacked at his front door by a knife-wielding thug, who cut Stuart’s face, requiring yet another hospital visit and over thirty stitches.

Stuart described the incident “I could live with losing my money, but I was heartbroken when the mugger stole my chain, it was irreplaceable and was given to me by the band Motley Crue”. “My life was at rock-bottom and I needed something to get my life back”.

Setting a new World Record

Stuart came up with the crazy idea of wanting to get back on his motorbike and ride it at high speed. So, Stuart googled the record for the fastest blind/disabled motorcyclist and discovered it was 140mph. From that day, he was determined to beat it.

Over the next few months, Stuart discovered there were many hurdles to overcome, locating a suitable racetrack, finding a support team, and more importantly trusting them with his life. Hence, there was no better person to support Stuart than his father Geoff, who quite literally became Stuart’s eyes, shouting instructions to Stuart during the many practice runs.

It became all-consuming, when Stuart wasn’t practicing, he was fundraising. Following backing from key sponsors and sheer determination Stuart had improved his speed to the point where he was ready to make an attempt at the world record.

Stuart was interviewed by for Biker FM, by a female journalist known as Noz. She told him about the Straight Liners National Championship, a one-mile track, like at Elvington Air Field, at York Elvington, where each year, bikers attempt to break motorcycling records.

So, on the 17th August 2013 in front of a crowd of thousands, he made an attempt at the world record. Stuart didn’t let the 35MPH crosswinds or rain put him off and on the third attempt, he broke the record, achieving an average of 167.4 mph over the one-mile track, on a Suzuki Hayabusa GSXR 1300, loaned by a friend in Edinburgh at Saltire Suzuki.

Stuart commented at the time “It was a great feeling, with a massive sense of achievement, mixed with relief, satisfaction and an overwhelming release of emotion. When the team went back to our rented cottage and opened a bottle of champagne, it felt great to be alive and achieve the dream I had set out for”.

Stuart was in demand, not only from journalists around the world but Stuart spoke at schools, bike shops, and charity events, even doing promotional work at the world-famous Isle of Man TT.

Regaining his Vision

Following his world record Stuarts, life began to come back to some normality where he had to cope with ongoing leg injuries and blindness. He even volunteered to have electric shock treatment in an attempt to restore his eyesight, but it was all to no avail. It wasn’t until he tripped over his cat, injuring his face and head that something remarkable happened. Following his release from the hospital, he was brushing his teeth when he started to see blurred objects, Stuart dared to dream.

Over time, Stuart’s sight came more and more into focus, but he still has issues with light and has to wear sunglasses on a permanent basis.

Getting Back into the Workforce

Stuart began his job search again in early 2019. Although Stuart had a great deal of experience up his sleeve, finding a role proved difficult. It was hard to explain the gaps in his CV, with one employer even thinking it was wrongly due to Stuart spending time in prison!

After nearly 150 applications he had two interviews and was finally offered a job at each company. Stuart chose Network ROI. He valued the employee-owned culture at Network ROI and the positive attitudes of the staff he met. “Network ROI made me feel at home, they accepted me and my disabilities, I could wear my sunglasses, and lights were adapted for me. I even volunteered for the Employee Ownership Committee in January 2020, representing the Engineers on the service desk, I am proud that people feel I am easy to speak to”.

In February 2020 Stuart got the chance to start a new role as a dispatcher “I really enjoy working with the whole of the UK wide Engineering team, helping find solutions to our client’s challenges.”

In March 2020 Network ROI implemented its business continuity plan and employees all started working from home. Stuart relished the chance to help customers in their time of need “Everything went crazy, I found myself working 12-hour days. But I was learning the job so quickly and having fun doing it”.

Network ROI changed the way IT providers operate by becoming one of the few employee-owned IT Managed Service Providers in the UK. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook for stories about our staff and IT insights.

Duo complete Network ROI’s new-look executive team
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Duo complete Network ROI’s new-look executive team

Network ROI has appointed Keith Bevan as its new Chief Executive Officer and Neil Douglas as Chief Information Officer. The highly experienced duo to take up the newly created roles as employee-owned Network ROI further develops its growth and development strategy. 

Sean Elliot, Chairman at Network ROI said the appointments were made to ensure we had the right team in place to lead the employee-owned business into the future, growing its services and client base further.  

“We have reached a point in our growth where we need a new mix of experiences and capabilities to take Network ROI to the next stage. Keith and Neil’s skill sets are complementary, Keith is a results-orientated business leader and Neil’s extensive technical knowledge is second to none”.  

“Keith possesses a wealth of experience in the development and growth of SME businesses.  He has taken previous companies from UK based businesses to global operations”.  

“Although Neil has over fifteen years’ experience in information technology, he has never stopped learning and having recently been awarded the ISACA’s Certified Information Systems Auditor, a worldwide standard of achievement, he can impart his high-level knowledge to both our employees and clients in equal measure”.  

Keith said: “I am excited to take up the position at Network ROI, as an employee-owned business I feel I am a custodian of the values Sean created and relish the challenge of growing the business further in the UK. 

“While many industries continue to be challenged by the pandemic, there is an opportunity for Network ROI to help empower customers on their digital transformation journeys as well as by giving timely strategic advice in their cost-based decisions, such as downsizing their office space.” 

Neil said “I feel energised and thrilled to take up this newly created role, we have a great dedicated team at Network ROI and I feel now more than ever clients need our down to earth advice and support in order for them to come out of the pandemic stronger than before”.  

Network ROI provides IT managed services to clients throughout the UK. As an Employee-Owned business, employees are co-owners and recognise the importance of service and value above all else, and work hard to deliver this to every one of their clients. 

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