On the lighter side of things, we caught up with Maginus’ CEO, Simon Weeks, to find out what makes him tick.
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
Being the CEO of a company with a £10m+ turnover that is debt-free and profitable has been a great achievement. But more so than that I’d say I’m very proud to have raised four normal kids! Three of whom are now in their 20s and the other is a four year old who keeps me very busy.
What first made you think of a career in technology?
I was always more interested in science at school. I grew up during the Information Technology revolution with the first Apple Macs and Windows PCs. At this time, I also started playing around with some software languages in my spare time. I then did a degree in Computer and Control Systems Engineering at Coventry University. When I graduated, mainframes were being superseded by mini computers, which meant my knowledge and passion for tech was useful.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
If you hire the right people into the right roles you can give them the opportunity to do the job with autonomy to the best of their ability. I’m not a micro-manager. I used to doubt the importance of recruitment, but now I see it as the most important business process. You have to invest a lot into the recruitment process and take your time to find the right people with the right skills. When it comes to hiring more senior people, I think it’s also important to really get to know them before they’re hired – what’s written on a CV isn’t enough to tell you if they’re going to fit into a company’s culture.
What do you think will emerge as the technology trend of 2019 and why?
I see AI gaining more traction, firstly in the consumer sector and then in business. AI and connected technology will continue to evolve, enabled by cloud infrastructure on the back end. For consumers, we’ll see more people investing in home technology, with the likes of Alexa and the Google Home getting smarter. AI will also make a big impact in retail as it can power quality personalisation – presenting consumers with the right offers at the right time.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
We are increasingly working in the cloud as it enables us to work faster, more efficiently and more effectively together. As well, more retailers are investing in online platforms rather than focusing on bricks-and-mortar. This requires a completely different mindset because, for example, the replacement cycle alone is much faster online.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside of the office?
I’m a keen rower. I also love good food and simply chilling out; I spend a large amount of my time playing with my four year old which keeps me busy.
If you could go back and change one career decision, what would it be?
I don’t regret much but I would’ve enjoyed working in the US but was never able as I had a young family to support. Of course, I do still have the opportunity to move across the pond in the future, so who knows what will happen.
What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in Europe?
Brexit is creating uncertainty because we have no idea how everything will pan out. For example, fashion retailer Next have recently put out a statement saying that a no-deal Brexit could lead to disruption at UK ports and higher prices in its shops. However, Brexit hasn’t caused any major issues yet and retailers are just carrying on as before, rather than waiting for a resolution.
More generally in Europe, challenges can arise if tools don’t have interfaces or teams that can support a multilingual audience. Other challenges include varied labour costs and economies running at different rates with different competitive price points. Some nations are also far ahead in terms of digitisation, for example the UK, Netherlands, France and Germany, so need to be mindful when doing business with nations that may not have adopted broadband or online shopping to the same extent.
What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these
developing in the next 12 months?
In the last year we introduced a COO to the company who has allowed me to take a step back from the day-to-day so that I can focus more on strategy which has been a great help. Although, as a CEO you can never really step away from profit, sales and cash flow, can you?!
What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain C-level position in your industry?
You need to be prepared to put in the ‘hard yards’ to make it to the C-Suite. I’d also recommend working to the best of your ability and not getting too hung up on the little things. If you do a great job, you’ll get there.