Dancing in the rain with MTI UK

The UK business just had its half-yearly kick-off, which saw over 100 members of team MTI gather together. We started promptly at 1pm and I gave a “view from the bridge” presentation, where I told it like it is, as best as I could. I shared my perspective of our considerable successes, addressed some of the inevitable changes and aimed to provide everyone with the solid clarity, clear guidance and vision that I share with the senior management team for now and the foreseeable future.

MTI is and always has been a business that has succeeded because of its camaraderie. Success for us is built on integrity, honesty and collaboration. As a team we achieve great things, whilst building and evolving that team from time to time involves editing, curation and evolution. Of course changes can cause confusion. I addressed these points and explained that from my perspective “success is not about waiting for a storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

Little did I know what a brilliant opportunity I was about to be handed to demonstrate this….

Running slightly behind schedule, I then handed the floor to Ian Parslow who gave an update on sales and talked about new markets that MTI was going after. Ian also shared details of the steps the sales team is undertaking to keep abreast of changing market conditions. Tony Conway then provided a strategic overview of the services side of MTI and the progress of the managed services business. Both Ian and Tony’s presentations were extremely well received and I would like to personally thank both of them for their contribution.

Spencer Misstear then took the challenge to end all challenges by conducting a live role play exercise which saw him as the sales person. Ian Parslow pretended to be the customer. Spencer demonstrated the role of strategic, benefit-lead salesmanship, making the case for secure, software defined data centres. The example was so strong I think Ian probably bought two SSDDC’s. Well done Spence! We then had a mini awards ceremony where we called out excellent performance, and whilst it is always a team effort, this is an opportunity to acknowledge those individuals who have gone the extra mile and who have exceeded targets and expectations.

The party then decamped to Milford Golf Club where we engaged in a Rounders tournament with 4 teams. During the prevailing 60 minutes there was only marginal cheating by all parties.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

Ultimately it was Alan Ryan and his security team who were victorious. Unfortunately the trophy that was to be presented to Alan Ryan was left in the office. This gave rise to all sorts of “panic” at which point I grabbed an ashtray and used this as a substitute for the trophy. A wonderful and fun way to demonstrate the little ways in which we can “learn to dance in the rain”. So to whoever actually did forget the trophy, thank you! Please don’t feel bad about it, it created a special moment and you can see from Alan’s face in the picture, his smile is as broad as it could be.

Dancing in the rain!

Dancing in the rain!

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Ian Parslow keeps it up!

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Phil, myself and Craig, watching Ian

Another highlight of the day was when Philip Brown challenged Ian Parslow to round two of Giant Jenga. Ian had been thoroughly thrashed last year and so this was a big deal for both Brown and Parslow. Perhaps Ian was exhilarated by the sales masterclass he had just witnessed courtesy of Spencer. Or, perhaps he had been practicing. We know he really hates it every time he loses. On the other hand, perhaps nerves overcame Phil. What ever the reason, after much concentration, and wiggling of bits of wood, Phil pulled the brick which made Ian victor. Definitely it will be best of three for both gentlemen next year.

Chinwag time

Chinwag time

We then had a BBQ and generally chinwagged until about 9 pm. It was great to be able to see the teams from all the UK offices get together, with folks coming from Livingston, Manchester, Worthing and the HQ in Godalming all present.

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A smile to end on!

I am looking forward to catching up with our French and German colleagues later in the year. Thanks to everyone who participated in the day, either by presenting, asking questions or just getting stuck in. I really enjoyed seeing everyone and the feedback I am getting suggests that the day was appreciated all round.

New Pants Please

Regular readers of this blog will know that MTI loves celebrating the success of the team and marking our milestones. The previous post highlighted the celebrations that our very own Rainer Held hosted to acknowledge the tenure of Clarence Do Rego and Christine Renzaho with the finance team. As promised, the pictures from the event are now available and posted below. You will note that Clarence’s shirt is particularly fresh. This is because his luggage was lost and so MTI ensured that he had new “essentials”.

That shirt looks crisp Clarence!

That shirt looks crisp Clarence!

I wanted to also take this opportunity to congratulate Rainer on his leadership. A stable team is a happy one. To see his team thrive is a testimony to the loyalty he inspires and the mentorship that he provides.

(L-R) Clarence, Rainer and Christine

(L-R) Clarence, Rainer and Christine

Rainer and his team

Rainer and his team

Moving with the times

I had a very interesting day yesterday which highlighted the need we all have to be agile in business and in life.

In the morning, Ian Parslow and myself were invited to a breakfast with The Economist’s Adrian Wooldridge, management editor and Schumpeter columnist. Adrian has just written a book, The Great Disruption, in which he examines the impact of forces such as the internet, financial capital and globalisation on business. The event, hosted by our PR consultancy Champion Communications, covered a lot of topics, ranging from the changing role of content in our lives through to the new way in which businesses need to adapt to stay ahead of the game.

www.championcomms.com

Adrian Wooldridge’s book on The Great Disruption

We then hot-footed it across the West End, through Soho to the Park Lane Hilton for a luncheon held for the Royal Warrant Holders Association. MTI (Security Practice) has the honour of having been granted a Royal Warrant for being a provider of data security services and products to Her Majesty The Queen. We are one of 700 companies to hold a Royal Warrant, and feel very proud of this. Ian Parslow, Alan Ryan, Sheila MacKinnon and I from MTI hosted a  table which included Pete Smith of The Royal Household, Ben Spencer, Beazley, Tim Raworth, KIO, Dave Exall, SafetyKleen, John Singh, DAC Beachcroft and Richard Cook, Champion Communications.

MTI (Security Practice) table and guests

MTI (Security Practice) table and guests

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KC and Tim Raworth, KIO.

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KC and Dave Exall, SafetyKleen

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L-R: KC, Robin Wodehouse of the Royal Warrant Holders Association, Pete Smith of The Royal Household

Over a three-course dinner, we heard from Robin Wodehouse, of Walker and Wodehouse Wines, one of the few Wine Merchants to hold a Royal Warrant and Grantor of Royal Warrants, who explained the work of QEST, the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, which raises funds to provide scholarships to support the education of talented crafts-people.

We also heard from Sir Charlie Mayfield of the John Lewis Partnership who made the point that holding the Royal Warrant is a mark of pride for everyone in an organisation, not just the business leaders. Upon reflection of the two parts of the day, the consistent theme for me was the need for agility.

On the one hand, we had a futuristic view of the world from a journalist who talked about the pace of change and shared his view that only those individuals and businesses that can adapt will service. On the other hand, we had lunch with one of the UK’s most traditional organisations, and here it is investing in the future and creating new opportunities by developing talent. In both environments, the benefits of being able to adapt whilst staying true to core principals seem to be the best way forward.

Robin Wodehouse at The Royal Warrant Holders Association dinner

Robin Wodehouse at The Royal Warrant Holders Association dinner

MTI in the fast lane at EMC World 2015

I write this blog from EMC World 2015, taking place at The Venetian in Las Vegas, which has once again proven itself to be a hugely inspiring event. The scale of the production and the quality of the speakers are literally amazing, with keynotes and celebrity performances throughout the agenda.

KC of MTI meets John McGuinness

KC of MTI meets John McGuinness

In addition to business leaders from within EMC and beyond are individuals who have literally redefined what is possible. The road racing giant John McGuinness, who can claim 22 TT wins in 25 years, was on hand earlier in the event to share his experience of breaking through the 130 barrier. John has a current lap record of 131.5 mph.

Ian Parslow of MTI meets road legend John McGuinnes

Ian Parslow of MTI meets road legend John McGuinnes

Another winner who has just given a presentation, but in this case because he doesn’t need wheels is John Maclean. John was hit by an eight-tonne truck. The accident left him an incomplete paraplegic in a wheelchair. 26 years later he completed the Nepean Triathlon as an able-bodied athlete. Defying the odds, John has gone on to establish a foundation which inspires and helps those who need surgery, wheelchairs, house modifications and other types of support.

John Maclean at EMC World 2015

John Maclean at EMC World 2015

After his story “to end all stories” John received a standing ovation from over 4000 people. Simply stunning.

Of course no EMC World would be complete without an awards ceremony and I am delighted to be able to report that for the second year running, MTI was awarded the EMC EMEA Award for Service. Our very own Nicolas Naulot collected the award on behalf of the company.

Nicolas Naulot of MTI receives  EMC's No. 1 EMEA Service Award, 2015

Nicolas Naulot of MTI receives EMC’s No. 1 EMEA Service Award, 2015

It was an honor for MTI to be on the same stage as these giants and to be acknowledged by EMC in this way.

MTI sets up German bakery

grains

Those of you who are familiar with MTI will know that we have been managing data securely for over 25 years. Clients include Barlow Robbins, Christ’s College and Toyota. You can read all about them here. So you might be surprised to learn that MTI has indeed invested in a German Bakery.

This move was driven by one man’s passion for German bread. In Germany, bread is more than just a food – it is a part of the German culture. Germany produces more varieties of breads than any other country. Over 300 varieties of dark and white breads and over 1,200 varieties of rolls and mini-breads (Brötchen & Kleingebäck) are produced in Germany.

Rainer Held, MTI's SVP of Finance

Rainer Held, MTI’s SVP of Finance

The man behind this diversification from normal business is none other than MTI’s very own Rainer Held, our SVP of Finance. You may be asking yourselves: “Has MTI gone mad?”, “Is this a new form of Managed Service?” or even “Will MTI be able to make sandwiches?”

Let me explain….

This weekend, Rainer celebrated his 50th birthday with his closest family and friends. Mrs. KC and I travelled to Darmstadt in Germany and enjoyed the beautiful weather with a beer in the square before heading off to dinner to celebrate with Rainer and his wife Jutta.

Daarmstadt Square

Darmstadt Square

The dinner, at a local, organic eatery called Müller and Müller, was wonderful. Fresh, line caught cod was my main course. Delicious, fresh, warm, German bread was served, but it wasn’t the bread or beer which lead to MTI’s investment in a German Bakery.

In fact, Rainer has decided that he wants to build a clay bread oven in his garden,  MTI and the other guests at the party were delighted to be able to make a contribution towards this. Pictures of this feat in culinary engineering and project management will be shared in due course.

Rainer and Jutta Held, in celebration mode

Rainer and Jutta Held, in celebration mode

 

It was an honour for Mrs. KC and I to be able to celebrate with Rainer. As head of finance Rainer has been looking after MTI’s “dough” for over 18 years, and I know one thing: There is no way he would allow MTI to get into the bread business!

 

The future is coming

The news in the UK this week has us salivating at the prospect of 15% growth in the technology industry, fretting about whether our TV’s are spying on us and marvelling at the prospect of driver-less cars.

driverless cars

Of course behind all of these stories are innovations in technology, and whilst these headline grabbing innovations may be the ones getting all of the attention from the mainstream media, the biggest leaps forward are less celebrated but more consequential. In fact those who are familiar with modern flight technology (auto pilot…) or indeed the hit TV series Gogglebox (which I am personally not a fan of- for the avoidance of doubt) might be wondering what the fuss is about.

IT Security is one of those technologies that only grabs headlines when it goes wrong. At MTI we manage the security for some of the world’s highest profile institutions. Whether it is penetration testing, identity access and management, endpoint or infrastructure security, our team is quietly and diligently making sure that our clients are always one step ahead.

Datacentre technology is another area that has seen tremendous innovation over the past few years. Whether it is the advent of virtualization, hybrid cloud or flash storage, each of these leaps represents cost and energy savings, liberating businesses to do more with less. Our partner, EMC is arguably the world’s leading provider of these technologies, and to put this into context, getting a laser to read and write on a spinning disk at exactly the right point, is infinitely more complex then sending a car down the M4 without a driver.

So I welcome the news that the UK Tech industry is about to enjoy unprecedented growth. It is well deserved and I know that we are ready, with systems and solutions that are scalable, more agile and more secure than ever before. I just don’t believe that that growth is going to be coming from driverless cars or TV’s that spy on us as the nation tunes into Corrie.

“Don’t tell Camilla where I am!”

On Thursday 29th of January, I was invited by Adrian McDonald of EMC to The Prince’s Trust Leadership Dinner, a black tie event in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales.

Mrs Clark and I set off to London, hitting the UK’s first blizzard of the year on the way, to arrive at the Park Lane Hilton at 6.15 on the dot, just in time for the Champagne reception. In the picture below you will see Chris Gould of EMC along with HRH.

Chris Gould of EMC presents HRH The Prince of Wales

Chris Gould of EMC presents HRH The Prince of Wales

It was an honour to personally meet His Royal Highness, who expressed interest in the Royal Warrant that has been awarded to us as a result of the work that MTI does for The Royal Household. Prince Charles explained that he is dependant on technology and IT security as he is on the road so extensively during the week, and appreciates the opportunity to catch up over the weekend. It was quite something to meet such a high profile end user of services provided by MTI.

We then joined the rest of the guests for the dinner and had a wonderful meal during which The Prince of Wales gave a presentation about the important work of The Prince’s Trust. During the speech, Sean Horne’s phone rang, interrupting the proceedings. Trouble causers could be heard imploring that Sean be locked up in the tower. To his credit Sean quipped: “It is Camilla, she wants to know where you are!” The Prince of Wales retorted: “Don’t tell her where I am!”

Prince Charles talks about The Prince's Trust's work

Prince Charles talks about The Prince’s Trust’s work

So, if The Duchess of Cornwall should happen to be reading this and wondering exactly where her husband was on Thursday night, I can confirm that he was in fact creating a very memorable evening and raising the profile of The Prince’s Trust.

Thank you once again to our friends at EMC for the invitation. It was very much appreciated.

You can read more about the event here

Clarence House Letter

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