‘Covid has driven the accelerated adoption of cloud-based, SaaS solutions’

16 Mar 2023

Donal Sullivan, CEO of CompuCal. Image: Michael O'Sullivan

CompuCal’s Donal Sullivan talks to SiliconRepublic.com about his role as CEO and the importance of customer satisfaction.

Donal Sullivan is the CEO of CompuCal Calibration Solutions, a SaaS/AI platform for the management and orchestration of calibration and maintenance activity in complex environments.

Prior to his current role at CompuCal, Sullivan worked with a variety of big names in tech such as Apple, Flex and Johnson Controls, and he has extensive experience working with smart buildings and cities and sustainability.

“My role as CEO is to deliver great value to our clients, by reducing downtime, increasing capacity and optimising engineering time used in keeping processes running under controlled conditions.

“We help customers with the digital transformation of their calibration and maintenance environments. We are equipment agnostic, with an open architecture that enables us to integrate with other digital tools and data sets.”

‘For me, customer is king. If you look after them well, then everything else tends to fall into place’

What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?

Right now our customers are adding capacity as the demand for new medicines is growing and our clients also need to get more from existing investments.

There are digital skills shortages and also a retire-out issue for skilled technicians and engineers, meaning knowledge and tools need to be modernised to enable digital natives to perform these tasks more efficiently.

What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?

We are getting great traction in life sciences, food and beverage, and oil and gas industries where there’s a lot of measurement instrumentation, ensuring processes run correctly. Process uptime and capacity are hugely valuable and ensuring batches are produced exactly to approved recipes is paramount.

These sectors have performed very well in recent years and Covid-19 has driven the accelerated adoption of cloud-based, SaaS solutions.

What set you on the road to where you are now?

I have spent a career working for great multinational companies including Apple, Flex and Johnson Controls, and I have learned how to run great businesses and build great teams. I now have an opportunity to scale an SME, using that experience. We have built an excellent reputation with our customer base and so we get a lot of referral business.

Our focus now is on building key partnerships and ecosystem relationships that enable us to deliver even more value to our end clients. I enjoy building relationships with our customers and delivering solutions that make an impact to their operations.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

I would say that was at Johnson Controls, seeking and winning a mandate to build a global business services center in Cork. This was just post our property crash, so delivering on a world-class building at One Albert Quay in Cork and scaling an organisation from zero to 500 was a huge challenge, but hugely satisfying.

Many of that team have gone on to build great careers for themselves in Johnson Controls and beyond, and I’m delighted for their success.

How do you get the best out of your team?

I treat people how I would like to be treated, with care and respect. I give people challenging problems to solve and then give them the freedom to go after it. For me, customer is king. If you look after them well, then everything else tends to fall into place.

There’s great satisfaction in solving a problem, making it commercially relevant and building expertise in our team, which makes us stronger.

Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector?

Yes, there is a diversity issue, like a lot of engineering and software businesses we tend to be male-dominated and have an older workforce.

In our business, we have dealt with this head on. We are majority women-owned, all our hiring this year have been students and we will consciously correct these imbalances going forward.

What’s the best piece of career advice you have ever received?

That would have to have been from my father, sadly now passed away. His advice was to get stuck in, do something and seek out great people.

I have found over the years if I threw myself into something, many doors would open and opportunities arise, it was then about having the courage to go after them and deliver. I like dealing with customers, seeing the big picture and making sure they are beyond satisfied.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

That’s a tough question, my wife has a first-class masters in education and English literature and so feeds me with a constant flow of great books of all kinds. I read a lot, three to four books a week. Anything that fires the imagination and gives you energy – that can come from biographies or crime thrillers or history.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

I need my phone and laptop, good food and creative space with the team. I need fresh air and exercise and then I’m all set to go. We have a lot of touch points with end clients and we build great solutions for the problem sets that they describe. It’s hugely rewarding when the customer says yes and is delighted with what they get.

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