The chief executive of Dundee cloud services firm Brightsolid has spoken of the huge responsibility she has felt to keep critical IT infrastructure running through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Brightsolid supplies “mission critical” services to organisations like the NHS, local government, financial services firms and many businesses important to the Scottish economy.
Planning for Covid-19 began at the start of March, when the situation in Italy was getting serious.
While most staff could work from home, the firm’s data centres in Dundee and Aberdeen cannot be left unmanned.
Chief executive Elaine Maddison said she felt a “tremendous responsibility” to get the firm’s response right.
“I focused on three things – making sure our people were protected; providing continuity of service to our customers that desperately need it; and protecting our future plans as I didn’t want to lose the momentum of all the good work we’d done,” she said.
Talking to other business leaders at a Dundee-focused online session of the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, Ms Maddison said she wanted to share her leadership approach over the past two months.
“Resilience is a much talked about leadership quality but it takes on a whole new meaning during Covid-19 as it’s impacted every single aspect of our personal and professional lives,” she continued.
“Firstly, you’ve got to lead with the heart and the head. This is a people first issue and you’ve got to get the balance right. Decisions about the needs of the customers and business can’t be made in isolation.
“Secondly, you need to really focus on what matters. It was important that we gave clear priorities around what needs to stop and what needs to be started.
“It’s important to use sound judgement, make decisions quickly, act upon them and not be afraid to get things wrong and wind thing back if they need to be. It’s all about making progress quickly and being agile.
“As a leader, it’s also important to take control of the narrative in your business and communicate transparently, consistently and factually to the team.
“Finally, it’s important that all decisions taken over the past eight weeks have one eye on the future and making sure that everything we did was a no regrets move.”
Brightsolid, which has operated for 25 years, has a long history of reinventing itself to match the changing dynamics of the technology industry and responding to customer needs.
Ms Maddison said the firm was just about to go to the market with a new services when Covid-19 hit.
“We had invested heavily over the last six to nine months in Amazon Web Services public cloud capability and we were gearing up to push the button on a new product launch and services with pretty ambitious growth ambitions attached to that,” she said.
“To say Covid-19 took the wind out of our sales was an understatement.
“As a leadership team we have had to shift our mindset from tactical response to a strategic recovery mode.
“We are in the fortunate position that our pre and post Covid strategy is broadly the same. The cloud market is still growing and we’ve not had the immediate revenue impacts but we need to pick up quickly on our plans again.”
She said it was also important that business leaders used their networks for advice.
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