Mike, you have wide-ranging experience in digital infrastructure and great success in a variety of sectors both in and related to data centres. What about the opportunity to join Portman Partners enticed you most?
It’s been a personal challenge to search out and successfully recruit the best talent in the market over the years. Finding passive high performers that fit in culturally and make an immediate impact in a business has, for the longest time, been considered an art form more than a science. I wanted to contribute and possibly add science to the art if there was a way. Portman also offers the opportunity to help people, our clients, potential clients, and candidates while staying very close to an industry I love.
Can you tell us about your work identifying and hiring talent for businesses you ran and how that experience will play into your new role with Portman?
It’s about your network, your credibility, and your marketing abilities. I found myself marketing candidates to my business or investors, marketing my business to candidates, marketing myself to the candidates, and then marketing the ethos, mission, strategy, and vision. Getting all that right is about tailoring the package, not just the financial piece, to the candidate’s needs. There are so many choices for career-savvy candidates in a sector struggling for resources that you need to bring your A-game and be consistently consistent. Top Tip – Candidates that are actively looking aren’t necessarily the best fit!
As you know, the data centre sector and digital infrastructure industry have received incredible attention since the pandemic began, some of which have highlighted sustainability concerns.
How do you view the attention, and do you think it is hurting or helping industry initiatives?
The need for sustainability, and a sustainable approach, should be all-encompassing. Shining a spotlight on one area always leaves other areas in the shadow of darkness. We need fewer ‘spotlights’ and more constructive ‘illumination’. I would caution against a knee-jerk reaction towards the data centre sector. It’s a pivotal industry, even more so with the new way of living and working, which undoubtedly has positively impacted our environment.
Transformational leadership that drives innovation and growth in the digital infrastructure sector is a Portman focus. Tell us about what you believe to be the essential leadership characteristics and behaviours senior executives in the digital infrastructure space and all spaces must possess for success.
This one is easy; Integrity, Inclusivity, Positivity, Diplomacy, Dependability, Confidence and Flexibility.
What did you learn about leadership during your career progression, and what type of leader would you say you are?
I’ve learned to rule things in rather than rule them out. I allow myself to imagine, to dream. I’ve learned not to feel constrained by a need to build upon what had gone before or by ‘tried and tested ways of doing things.
I consider myself a game-changing leader who, at my best, leads through the power of ideas and possibilities. I imagine possibilities that others don’t and engage others with the excitement and the vision of what is possible. My contribution to the world is one of transformational change rather than incremental change.
How does today’s ideal digital infrastructure business boardroom look? What positions are needed, and what type of people should fulfil those roles?
It all looks, and feels, a little stale to me. It’s not so much about positions or roles; although some are newly required, it’s all about diversity of age, sex and demographics. It needs to feel a whole lot more relevant and exciting. Ultimately, I think this will come from diversity of experiences and upbringing—the more diverse the boardroom, the more diverse and innovative the business.
With all the analytics, AI, and other technology available today, do you see any tools that can play a crucial role in helping recruiters and companies identify talent? What about tools to help qualify talent for capabilities and the impact they would make on a team?
Yes, the GC Index® does precisely that. Portman Partners is now powered by the GCI, a universal language and business profile tool that measures how people feel most engaged and energized when it comes to making a positive “impact”. It’s a technology-based organimetric increasing global knowledge, wealth, and harmony. The GCI is creating impactful collaboration. The GCI helps people think about how they can play to their strengths, maximizing their contribution to a role, team, and organization.
What are your goals for Portman in the next year, three, or five years and how do you plan to achieve them?
Honestly, more of the same. We are the leading firm in leadership recruitment in the Digital Infrastructure space globally. We want to stay boutique and niche enabling us to respond and move quickly. Maintaining our in-depth knowledge of the sector means staying close to it to be relevant. Networking and continually building our network will always be a priority for me.
As a qualified GCologist, with the GC Index, I will be expanding Portman’s use of it with our candidates and clients, which is already significantly impacting our search process.
What is your favourite quote about business, and why is it your favourite?
“If you can’t change your people, change your people.” No reason is necessary; it speaks for itself. Call me if you need a further explanation. I may be able to help!
What would you most like to hear someone say about you when you aren’t in the room?
I’m not sure it matters. I’m only interested in the things I can control and what people say about me isn’t one of those things. I generally live my life without regrets and have helped as many people as I could along the way. I’d hope that most people I’ve crossed paths with would have felt that positive impact.
Can you name someone who has had a tremendous professional impact on you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
I have been really fortunate to work alongside some amazing people. One that stands out for me is David Hogg, now CFO at Cannaray Ltd. David was my Managing Director at 8 Solutions Ltd, and he led us to an eventual acquisition by ABM. He helped me immensely with my personal and professional development in the UK, and it was through his leadership, positivity, and hard work that I learned to run an SME like a Corporate. He involved me in critical business decisions, increasing my awareness, understanding, and confidence. Thank you, David.
Mike is a practiced industry leader with 25+ years of hands-on experience across Digital Infrastructure, Data Centre, IT, and Telecoms businesses. As a seasoned director, founder, and entrepreneur, he has founded, grown, and exited numerous businesses successfully, and has recently joined Portman Partners as a Partner.