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.”
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.
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.
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).
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.
Last night, Midlothian based Network ROI, Scotland’s leading cyber security and IT managed service provider, was proud to win the Business High Growth award at the Midlothian & East Lothian Chamber of Commerce Business Awards 2019, held at The Brunton, in Musselburgh.
The Business High Growth award recognised its exceptional business growth achieved by Network ROI over the last year.
Adam Johnson, Managing Director, Network ROI said:
2019 has been an exceptional year for us, we have grown our Midlothian based business by over 65% over the last three years to over £5m and I am especially proud we have created many local jobs over the last couple of years having grown from 32 to 50 employees.
Adam added: “As an employee owned company we fundamentally believe that if we look after our staff, who are fellow business owners, then they will in turn, look after our customers, with exceptional service. Winning the Business High Growth award and being nominated for Employer of the Year is testament to all the hard work, commitment and passion the team has put in and it will definitely motivate us to continue to improve and excel, in order to benefit our customers, through the products and services we offer.”
Midlothian based Network ROI is very proud to have been shortlisted by a panel of judges as a finalist in two categories in the Midlothian & East Lothian Chamber of Commerce Business Awards 2019.
The Employer of the Year Award will be given to the business that has a genuine dedication to their workforce, over and above any statutory duty. The Business High Growth of the Year Award recognises businesses that have experienced exceptional growth in sales, profit, market share, jobs or international trade.
Adam Johnson, Managing Director said: “As an employee owned company, I am delighted for the entire team. For us to have been nominated for two awards is a great achievement. Our culture is at the forefront of the business, as we believe that if we look after our staff, who are fellow business owners, then they will in turn, look after our customers, with exceptional service.”
“2019 has been an exceptional year, as we have recently opened a new office in Newton-le-Willows in North West England, to service over 90 businesses in the region. We have also significantly increased our employee numbers in our Midlothian head office; doubled turnover to over £5m and continue to upskill our workforce, with our clients benefiting from expert advice in cyber security through our Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSP), as well as undertaking numerous University and post University qualifications”
“We are driven by our clients’ needs to continually improve our services, including being ISO accredited for quality (ISO 9001), service (ISO 20001) and cyber security (ISO 27001), alongside our three gold and five silver Microsoft accreditation’s. We offer our clients round the clock 24/7/365 fully managed support services.”