This is where an interim such as myself can help. Many of these businesses require leaders with the commercial expertise and skills to guide them, as they look to establish themselves or undergo a period of change.
Interview: Jennifer Peart
Jennifer Peart, specialist interim, discusses the art of managing change in the technology sector
The UK tech sector is set to grow four times faster than GDP this year, and, to support this, strong leadership is crucial. Jennifer Peart is a performance-driven senior executive with over 20 years of successful interim and corporate experience, primarily in the technology and software sector. With a career that has taken her from Silicon Valley to London, you would be hard pressed to find someone with more leadership experience in this sector.
In 2014 Jennifer was placed via Odgers Interim as Interim Chief Commercial Officer at Nominet, one of the world’s leading internet registry companies. Here she talks about her experiences providing leadership in the constantly changing tech industry…
Have you always been interested in the technology sector?
In one of my first roles, straight after graduation, I worked for one of the world’s top financial small business and consumer software companies. The company was based in Silicon Valley, and it was during the boom period of the internet, so it was one of the most exciting and stimulating periods of my professional career. Since then I’ve worked for a variety of companies across a number of sectors, but the innovation and resilience of the tech industry always draws me back.
We have seen a real upturn in demand for interims within the IT and technology sector. What do you think the drivers are?
The technology sector is continuously undergoing new advancements. For example the powerful growth of online services and mobile applications and the recent emergence of quad-play. As a result of this innovation, a number of fast growing start-ups are appearing. In addition, a number of existing companies are seeking to make significant changes to the products and services they offer.
Quite often companies in the IT sector have varying requirements. They may want an interim with specialist expertise relevant to their company, or they may require an interim that doesn’t have the specialist expertise but has a much broader range of experience and can offer a fresh and more commercial perspective. Luckily for me, in this sector I can offer both.
Why do you choose to be an interim?
I often call myself the ‘accidental interim’. I was working at a large organisation and had reached director level, but was at a cross roads. I was ready for a new challenge, but wasn’t sure which direction to take. It was at that point a previous colleague got in touch regarding an interim role opportunity and I haven’t looked back.
Working as an interim for over 10 years, I love the variety and the diversity of experience that it offers. I also enjoy the sense of being parachuted into an organisation in order to problem solve and to help equip a business to meet its goals.
Can you give us some background on your current role?
The previous CCO had left and the company required someone to fill the role and deliver on the existing strategy, already approved by the board. I was able to use my commercial experience to influence the implementation of the plan, helping to provide guidance on strategic delivery.
For example, a key initiative that we’ve introduced is an integrated marketing approach, leveraging the use of online, social media and PR across the board. This has helped to provide a consistent, multi-dimensional brand experience for the customer. More emphasis has also been placed on monitoring and evaluation to ensure that strategic objectives are understood internally and are being met. I have also used my previous experiences to evaluate the current product management processes in place, with a view to introducing enhanced efficiencies that should help to reduce costs and improve customer experience.
In your view, what is next for the internet domain sector?
Since Nominet first came into operation, some 20 years ago, it has been at the forefront of the domain industry. As time goes on, new codes are entering the market place providing more choice and resulting in more competition. In addition, the market is now very mature, so a key challenge for many companies is to proactively identify new opportunities and keep abreast of emerging trends, to ensure continued success.
What challenges do you anticipate in the future for the technology sector and how might they impact interim demand?
The obvious challenge with emerging trends such as quad-play, IoT, smart machines and context-rich data systems, is the need to have people with the skill to bring together and utilise this range of technologies. More importantly, there will also be a need for people who are able to translate those technologies into tangible propositions and to deliver profitable services which engage and benefit the customer. This is where interims can add real value, through their breadth of sector knowledge and their ability to get up to speed quickly.