Exeleon Magazine

Rob May: At the Heart of Technology

ramsac - Rob May_Exeleon Magazine

Considered by many as a pioneer in the CyberSecurity space, Rob May is the Founder and MD of ramsac — an independent IT infrastructure consultancy. With ramsac, Rob is on a mission to deliver the best out of the technology by providing proactive management, and jargon-free IT support. Moreover, he also aspires to accelerate growth efficiently and securely.

Rob is a huge believer in life-long learning and is currently enjoying writing his next book ‘Preparing for Interruption.’ In this Exclusive Interview, Rob May talks about leadership, ramsac, his journey, technology, and much more.

What according to you makes one a transformational leader? How do you integrate the same thought into your leadership?

To me transformational leadership is about inspiring and motivating employees, encouraging them to be the best they can be, not just for the business but for themselves and their future. I’m a huge believer in lifelong learning, personally I’ve ensured that I’ve attended training and development of one sort or another, every month for the last twenty-five years, this journey has helped shape me and my thinking and that’s reflected in and shared within the entire business.

Six years ago, I launched the ramsac academy within the business, this is something I personally lead and a vehicle to share my learnings, thoughts, and experiences with my colleagues at every level of their career journey. The academy looks at all areas of work success, positivity, communication, leadership, time management, vulnerability and so on.

Talk to us about your growing up years. What is your earliest memory as a leader that you can remember?

I’ve been doing this a long time now, in fact I’m about to celebrate thirty years in this role. If I reflect on the early years, I think the biggest learnings came from the realization that just because something is important to you, it doesn’t mean it is the same for everyone else. This could relate the importance of salary or what car someone drives, or whether it’s more important to spend budget on advertising or a makeover for the working environment. Some of this comes from personal drivers and some of it comes from your own experiences.

We are a service organization and therefore Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) are vital to us because our clients judge us by them. What we value won’t fit every single potential client and therefore there must also be client fit (which sometimes we get wrong). But it’s important that your team buy into a set of standards that you agree is the experience that your clients will enjoy.

We did an exercise a number of years ago on customer WOW’s – what is it that makes a customer say wow. I started the exercise with discussing the experience of stopping at a hotel, we listed all the elements of a hotel stay e.g., having a bed and a shower etc., a lock on the door, and when we had all those listed, we put them under ‘customer expectation’ these aren’t wow’s, if you turn up at a hotel and there’s no bed you’re going to complain.

We were then looking for wow’s but what was interesting to me, is that we all look at things differently. I had one member of staff saying that they’d stopped in a hotel and there were a fleet of limos available to them on demand and that was certainly a wow, I equally had a member of staff saying that they’d checked in to a hotel and there were bathrobes in the room which for them was remarkable, very different perspectives based on life experiences and the resultant filter we apply to our expectations.

What led to the formation of ramsac? What was the idea behind the name of the company?

Early in my career I found I had the ability to see problems, not from a negative perspective, rather in terms of something not making sense to me along with suggestions for how I would tackle the situation if it were me. All the time I worked in an environment where that was a good thing, we all excelled, and I was happy. Unfortunately, I ended up in an international corporation where my approach didn’t fit their model, I felt very unsettled and unhappy and decided to do something about it.

I’d experienced a lot of in-house empire building and I could see that many people in the technology world seemed to think it was a good idea to make the industry appear as complicated as possible. I believe that if you make someone feel comfortable with a theory or a product, helping them to feel good about it and grow in their knowledge, you are far more likely to build trust and long-term relationships and that was what we set out to do as ramsac.

I’m often asked about the name ramsac which is an acronym for the values of the business. All of our staff are Reliable, Approachable, Motivated, Skillful, Adaptable and Committed. Our values are extremely important, in addition to the acronym there is the core understanding that we do the right things, and we do things right. The combination of these is a permission to act, anyone who makes a decision based on this framework cannot be wrong, it might go wrong but they would have the backing of everyone to sort the issue as the decision was made for the right reasons and in line with our drive to always do the right thing.

What is the approach followed by the company in order to ensure optimal client satisfaction?

We’ve always measured and celebrated customer satisfaction. Whether that’s a cybersecurity forensics response, a 100-day project or simply a support call, we measure performance, delivery but most importantly satisfaction. Customers feed back on their experience and each month we celebrate with ‘I am ramsac’ awards.

Being the Founder and MD, what role do you play in the day-to-day proceedings of the company?

In the early days of ramsac I was very hands on in technology delivery but these days my role is to guide the board, drive direction and be an ambassador both for the business but also our industry.

Being a Speaker, Author, Entrepreneur, Industry Expert, to name a few, how do you ensure work-life balance?

Work-life balance is a misnomer that I suspect few manage to achieve, I think what is far more likely is work-life harmony, the question is, do the things that you do, the time that they take and the commitment they require fit in with the needs of the other elements in your life? I do a lot of speaking internationally on cybersecurity and I get tremendous satisfaction from this, it energizes me and the people that I have met in doing so, have opened many doors in different areas of my life. When I’m inspired myself, I’m far more likely to be inspiring to others.

What has the journey been like for Rob May over the years? Looking back, what would you have done differently if you were to start again?

The journey has been tremendous, I’ve learned so much and frankly I continue to do so. In terms of what would I do differently, in the early days we didn’t think we had the budget to pay for top dollar advice, the reality is, most expensive advisers are expensive for a reason and their experiences, contacts and influence on your business is worth investing in as early as possible.

What would be your advice for emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in the current changing work environment?

People talk about new normal; the reality is that whatever today is, is normality. The role of a businessperson is to respond and adapt to customer and employee needs and provide the best possible solutions to those stakeholders. The big challenge that we all face right now is ensuring an equal experience, this means thinking about everyone, whoever and wherever they are and working out what we need to do to make it equal for all.

Finally, what does the future look like for you, both personally and professionally?

The future is exciting. I work in an industry that is hugely in demand and I spend my time with people whom I can inspire and they in turn inspire me. Our business grew significantly as a result of Covid, and we are now in a position to really benefit from that and maximize on the opportunities we have before us. Personally, I love every day whether I’m at work, on a stage or in one of my advisory roles, I’m also currently enjoying writing my next book ‘Preparing for Interruption’.

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