Barney Taylor of Ensono discusses opportunities and challenges in the tech sector, and why he books gym sessions like he books meetings.
As managing director for Europe at IT managed services company Ensono, Barney Taylor is responsible for business operations and client initiatives across the region, leading sales, solutions architecture, consulting and client services.
Taylor has more than 20 years’ experience as a tech business leader. He joined Ensono in 2018 from Dimension Data, where he held a number of senior leadership roles, most recently as managing director of its UK and Ireland business.
‘The biggest opportunity within the tech sector is, ironically, also its biggest challenge’
– BARNEY TAYLOR
Describe your role and what you do.
Ensono helps enterprise organisations optimise and modernise their complex IT infrastructure – from the mainframe to the cloud – to support new technologies and mission-critical applications. We consult on, deploy and manage infrastructure that enables our clients to meet their business goals and deliver great experiences for the people they serve.
As managing director for Europe at Ensono, I’m responsible for all business operations, sales, client and strategic initiatives across the region. In addition to this, I am responsible for the success of Ensono’s culture and overall business performance. We have recently undergone a period of high growth and change, achieved through acquisitions and organic business growth.
I feel passionately about the power technology has to drive business transformation, which is the reason that I was so keen to enter the technology industry. I’m very happy to be doing what I love with a supportive team of like-minded people.
How do you prioritise and organise your working life?
Despite the changeable nature of the tech industry, I ensure that my priorities constantly remain aligned with those of our clients, my team and the wider organisation. Sometimes these priorities shift, but I always make sure to prioritise the big events that make a difference to our culture, clients and deliver valuable outcomes.
Being organised is a critical part of success for any business leader. I work on a tight schedule and manage my working week very closely. My trick to ensuring that I make enough time for my family and friends is to manage my personal time just as rigorously. I book in gym sessions just as I book in important meetings.
I am a strong believer in balance. Those that have the best work-life balance are happier, more rounded and more productive people. It’s really important to set the right example to my team in developing a healthy work-life balance. While sometimes it’s unavoidable, I do try to avoid really late nights in the office and working on the weekend.
What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?
The biggest challenge facing the technology sector is the sheer pace of change. The speed at which technology develops requires the teams that support it, and the organisations that facilitate it, to move at the same rate. This can be difficult to maintain.
Businesses are transforming at a pace previously unseen, and we advise our clients that the digital transformation process is better understood as a journey rather than a destination, as there will always be a need to change and innovate.
It is an exciting time for the technology industry, but such a rate of change poses a challenge to the workforce of today and tomorrow. In order to succeed, organisations must support their staff through this ongoing transformation, ensuring that they have the skills to adapt and thrive in the ever-changing working environment.
What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?
The biggest opportunity within the tech sector is, ironically, also its biggest challenge: keeping up with the ever-evolving nature of IT infrastructure. In an industry that never sits still, organisations are constantly on the cusp of change, and success is measured by the speed, complexity and impact of such transformations.
At Ensono, we help facilitate this change, despite the complexity involved with modernising legacy systems and moving entire organisations to the cloud. No two digital transformations are the same, and our expertise in the hybrid IT sector allows us to cater to specific business’ needs efficiently with as little planned downtime as possible.
What set you on the road to where you are now?
I was lucky that my biggest grounding in the world of business and leadership happened in my early 20s when I worked in client-facing sales roles. The sales world is all about doing – making the calls, meeting the targets, prospecting and learning the maths of selling. This momentum really helped drive forward my career and created a work ethic in me that gave me the confidence to aim high and aspire for leadership.
I later developed a love of technology and an enjoyment of managing people that set me on the course that I’m on now. I’m fascinated by technology – how it can change business, events, people, experiences – and I wanted to be involved in this forward-looking movement.
What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
One of my biggest mistakes was selecting the wrong organisation to work for and taking on too much too early in my career. I moved from a role as a young salesperson at a company I enjoyed, into something that did not fit me and, in hindsight, which I did not fit. The experience really knocked my confidence.
However, it taught me to have a level of humility to learn what my strengths and weaknesses are, and it made me really value and prioritise a business’s culture. You are the company you keep – quite literally – and it’s so important to enjoy work as much as possible and be in an organisation that you can learn from and progress within.
I have since understood that even the best business leaders have experienced failure – you cannot win them all, you just have to learn from your mistakes. If you choose a business with a good culture that you are passionate about, it’s easy to contribute to it and create the right foundations for your career.
How do you get the best out of your team?
The creation of a positive working culture is vital. When supporting my team, I ensure that I keep communication channels open and am measured in my approach to problems. I try to make work as enjoyable as possible and ensure that my team are respectful to one another.
When hiring, it’s important to consider people’s personalities as well as their skills. Consider how they will gel with the rest of the group, as negativity can spread like wildfire and is difficult to stem once started. I always bear in mind that I am hiring the leaders of tomorrow, and it’s a pleasure to be involved in their career journey.
Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector?
The tech industry doesn’t have anything like the diversity challenges that it used to, but there is still so much more to do. The number of men in tech, for example, still far outweighs the number of women in the sector in both operational and leadership positions.
I’m happy to say that, within my immediate management team, we have all but eradicated this gender imbalance. With the support of Ensono’s women initiatives, their engaging training and strong stance on women in tech, the department has progressed into a diverse, multi-skilled team.
The wider industry, too, has taken large strides in improving its diversity issue, as the ‘old school’ way of thinking is challenged and replaced by a more innovative, inclusive philosophy. Our biggest proponents for diversity have been our senior leadership team – including our CEO, Jeff VonDeylen – and this united push has allowed us to start building a more diverse organisation.
I believe it’s vital that businesses don’t just wait for change, but make a stand and evoke change internally, whether that’s investing in career programmes for underrepresented minorities or raising awareness of the ongoing diversity issue. Diversity in any sector shouldn’t be about box ticking, but about building a well-balanced organisation in which people are encouraged to work collaboratively.
Did you ever have a mentor or someone who was pivotal in your career?
I have been fortunate enough to have mentors throughout my career, and I learned at an early stage just how important it is to have someone who can offer you support, guidance and advice both inside and outside of work.
At each point in my career, I have made a point of seeking out and working with a mentor, many of whom I’m still in contact with. In fact, I still regularly speak to my first ever mentor who I met at my first job working in a bike shop!
What books have you read that you would recommend?
The books that really changed my outlook on business and leadership were B4B: How Technology & Big Data are Reinventing the Customer-Supplier Relationship and Consumption Economics, both written by JB Wood, Todd Hewlin and Thomas Lah from the TSIA [Technology Services Industry Association]. I would also recommend their more recent book, Technology-as-a-Service Playbook, as an inspiring and informative text for those hoping to enter and excel within the technology sector.
What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?
In my working life, I rely upon collaborative tools such as Teams and Webex to help move agendas along. I like to empower, delegate and take guidance from my team as much as possible, and so I love tools that let me communicate and set targets with them.
I also try to inject some pockets of free time into my working week in order to allow me to keep an eye on the market, research any new and emerging technologies, help me prepare content and think ahead. I find it hugely beneficial to have these brief moments of pause to ensure that I fully understand and assess whether we are continuing to meet Ensono’s overarching goals.
In my personal life, I find that keeping active really helps power me through the week. I run, cycle and go to the gym as much as possible. Without keeping active, my work life would be less productive.
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