The Wetherby IT pioneer leading his ‘family’ of employees to keep business in the UK
Q: In a nutshell, what does your company do and how did it start?A: My career has always been based in IT, and after a long career with BT and then working with third-party maintenance companies, I decided to set up my own company. Some years later, Claritas Solutions was born.
We provide IT solutions and support across many industries within the UK. Working with customers from the Home Office to the Police to the private sector, sharing our expertise to small and large companies.
Q: What's the most surprising thing about it?A: The corporate world’s appetite for working with honest and hard-working SMEs like ours, that can offer that personal touch and adaptability. And getting to this point in time just through recommendation and referral.
Q: What do you do in the business?A: In the past I have done everything from writing programmes and building systems to overseeing our clients. This included significant projects like the roll-out of Lotus Notes across Europe, and helping to build a single secure database of indecent images of children – the Child Abuse Image Database (CAID) – which has helped UK law enforcement agencies improve and speed up investigations.
As the business grows, I see my role is more maintaining the culture of the company and nurturing the staff, who I see as family. Our focus is also about sharing the technology we create, collaboration with key partners and contributing to the greater good.
Q: How did you end up here?
A: I have always been interested in IT, even before electronics became mainstream. From the age of 10 I used to build radios, but had to save my pocket money for the parts. While I was working for BT in my earlier career, I joined their new computer division, rolling out IT across the UK. To be honest, it was not welcomed by many companies and was seen as a threat – ironic, when you look at people’s dependence on it now. Intrinsically though, it is in my blood, so to end up running my own IT company felt inevitable.
Q: If you weren't doing this, what would you be doing?A: Yachting, making music and building electronics. I have always had a vision to provide solutions to problems and effectively make systems work better for people.
Q: What motivates you?A: Our team and workforce. We have a culture that is built on respect, because I believe that people can create great things, given the freedom to do it. Take Einstein and Darwin as examples – they had the time to explore and research.
There is no 9-5 mentality – just to do your job to the best of your ability in a culture that enables engineers to thrive. The length of time people have worked for us shows this works, and employees who have left the company have then returned. We are a family, and we support each other.
Q: What one thing do you wish you had known when you started out in business?A: How ruthlessly and greedy some people can be. Power and lack of morality for some takes priority, not the well-being of others.
Q: What excites you about business?A: Getting people out of holes. Hearing the challenges companies are facing and providing bespoke IT solutions to resolve their problems. We have worked with a wide range of companies from retail to transport, building many IT systems.
Q: What is your pet hate in business?A: Greed. Industries have now been contaminated by it. That is not what we are about – our focus is the client, not continual expansion jeopardising the quality of our work. Money doesn’t motivate me.
Q: What advice would you give to people just starting their careers?A: Ensure you have robust contracts with people and get everything written down. Don’t rely on trust, but ensure you have agreements in place to back you up. Everything changes when money is involved. Money changes some people.
Q: Who in business do you most admire, and why?A: Any companies who invest in the UK. Many companies sell out to China, but it’s not the way forward. We need to support our own economy and workforce, growing our skill base for the future, above profits.
Q: What moments of your career so far stand out?A: We have worked on several government and police projects that have not only saved lives but helped policing and capturing offenders at a national level.
Q: What sets your company apart from the competition?A: Without question our people. We have a collection of talented individuals, and we wouldn’t be here without them. We are always actively recruiting and looking at different ways of bringing people into the industry, including a new pilot work experience scheme with York St John University.
Q: What is the most difficult challenge your company has faced? And what challenges are you experiencing at the moment?A: The same answer for both questions – finding good staff. We have always had work and will always continue delivering great work, but having the right staff makes all the difference in the world.
Q: Have you got a five-year plan for the company?A: Whilst we have grown organically until now, we are implementing a longer-term strategy and this includes working on UK-designed initiatives, like our soon-to-launch Sovereign Cloud secure hosting platform. This is a commitment to keeping business and information purely in the UK.
Q: Why is it good to do business in Wetherby?A: We enjoy supporting a local economy and employment – and where better to be based than the home of the original Wetherby Whaler?