Role and company:EMEA managing director and SVP Customer Experience at PEER 1 Hosting. Our European HQ is in Southampton, which is where I’m based. Essentially my job is to ensure that customers are our number one priority.
Company turnover (and most recent ebitda/most relevant profitability metric):£23m annualised EMEA revenues.
Employee numbers:105 in the UK.
Growth forecast for the next three years:We’re looking to double our business over the next two to three years.
In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:We’re more like a hospitality company than a technology company. Our approach, our people and the service we provide is akin to a top class hotel. What we sell is a commodity but we deliver it in a world-class way.
What’s the big vision for your business?We don’t want to be the biggest, we just want to be the best. We want to be compared to the best service companies across all sectors, and be recognised globally as the best hosting company in the world.
Current level of international business, and future aspirations:We serve 13,000 customers in 190 countries and our business will continue to expand internationally.
Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:Getting fired for the first time was awful. I was fired from a restaurant when I was young and the experience taught me that you should always have enough money in your account so that you go to work as a volunteer, rather than relying on a salary. I call this the “screw them” fund. No one should ever have to put up with being treated badly just for a salary at the end of the month.
What makes you mad in business today?Terrible customer service! I must rant at at least one person every day because of the bad service they’ve provided. Either it’s an individual or a business that has a system that clearly hasn’t been built for human beings. People who don’t want to interact with people shouldn’t be in the service game.
What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?Hosting has only been around for ten years but I can see it becoming a bit faster, a bit cheaper and more consolidated. Right now there are about 35,000 hosting companies and judging by the way the market is developing, there will definitely be fewer in the future. PEER 1 Hosting is one of the major global players in the industry, despite this consolidation.
Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?Yes, they can. Our industry is awash with more money than it knows what to do with. Venture capitalists are piling into it.
How would others describe your leadership style?My staff would say I’m empowering, inspirational, passionate and straight-talking.
Your biggest personal extravagance?When I open my wardrobe in the morning I’m always amazed that I own more than three pairs of shoes. I don’t buy much but when I do I try to buy good quality products. From where I’ve come, this still seems like an extravagance to me.
You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:Stop taxing the hell out of small businesses! Let them generate an income and invest in growing their business. Large companies like Google and Starbucks are getting away with murder and small companies are being hit with big taxes – it’s not right. Also, the benefits system should work for people and not against them so that if you want to work, your benefits don’t disappear. For example, Germany’s part time jobs system is thriving because people can work and receive benefits too. If we copied that model it would suddenly open up a large pool of part time workers which small businesses could tap into. By Shané Schutte
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