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5 minutes with Lee Etheridge

August 4, 2022

Tell us about your career to date.

My whole career has been spent in IT. I was attending a computer course at college and one of my fellow students, a programmer, was involved with Quintech working on databases. That led to my initial engagement with the business on a two-week work experience placement. I went to university and when I left in 1997 I applied for a full-time job with Quintech as a Workshop Junior. Since then, I’ve progressed through the business in roles including Junior Installations Engineer, Customer Services Manager, Support Desk Manager, through to Operations Director which I am now.

What does your role as Operations Director involve?

As a Director I have an influence on future decisions for the company and play a part in deciding the direction we want to be heading in.

I’m responsible for two teams – the Support and Installations. Primarily I plan and schedule all the client orders. We make things a technical reality, ensuring projects are carried out as smoothly and professionally as possible. I liaise with our clients from the outset to set the scene and, unless anyone wants to talk tech, I try and explain things in simplified terms making sure the finer details are clear. IT talk can be confusing so it’s important to relay it in a way the client can understand and relate to. I like to say we are as open and honest as possible: if we haven’t discussed it, we haven’t thought about it and we haven’t planned for it!

So basically, if there’s an issue it stops at your door?

Yes, which is why I say my secondary job title is “The Caretaker” because I’m there to sweep up!

Over the past 25 years you must have seen some significant changes in the business.

Definitely. IT moves as such a fast pace. In the early days of emails when they were just becoming popular, we used to receive all our emails into one central computer. It was my job to review them every day, print out the important ones and hand them out to the relevant people! Obviously, email is just a way of life now.

Nowadays we’ve moved into an era where security is a number one factor and providing the latest and best technologies to secure our clients’ networks is key for our business.

Another transition has been the move to remote support. For example, in the past, we used to go out and fix people’s mice on their desks. We could drive two hours to a customer to do that! You’d never think about doing that now. That was a very reactive approach. Nowadays the focus is on being proactive. We can respond to most scenarios without any prompt from the client with the use of automation, alerts, and monitoring. Take last week when a client server system reported to us that they were offline over the weekend. I’d already arranged for an engineer to turn up on site to fix the problem on Monday morning before the client even noticed or began thinking about what to.

What’s been one of the highlights of working here?

Becoming a Director. Working my way through the organisation and getting to where I am now is the main thing.

There must be some challenges that come with the role.

Yes…the challenges are numerous! Large project planning and time management are high up there, but the biggest challenge is people management. Not only the people who work for you but also client management. Communication is vital, we need to make sure we’re in full communication with our clients and that they communicate back to us.

What motivates you and gives you the most enjoyment?

One of the best bits is helping people resolve an issue. No matter how big or small you get satisfaction from it. Also, project planning something well. When it all goes to plan and you’ve discussed it with the client and they’re happy, I get enjoyment from that. The goal is to deliver a project as efficiently as possible…exactly what it says on the tin…and that’s what motivates me.

What are your goals for Quintech?

Like most businesses, we want to continue to grow and thrive. It’s important for us to keep up to date with the latest technologies to remain competitive. We need to stay at the cutting edge because the industry moves so fast and as a business you’ll fall behind if you don’t keep up the pace.

On that note, how does Quintech stay ahead of the curve?

We’re continuously in discussion with industry experts. You’ll find us at the IT roadshows where the big industry players in the market come together to demonstrate the latest threats, products and solutions. We talk to a lot of new and existing vendors about their products to understand what’s new and to assess where the gaps are in the market. In IT you call it your “stack”…your suite of products…and you continuously add to your stack with the products you want to promote to your clients. Essentially every product we take on fits a need or gap. Some of them overlap. We’ve added to our stack lately with further security products such as user security training and phishing campaigns because each of those products are filling a current gap and need.

Do you think businesses are taking security seriously enough?

No. I still believe businesses don’t think they’re really a target. It comes back to communication. We’ve got to make clients aware of where the vulnerabilities are to make them want to do something about it. Even things like email accounts…people need to understand that simply protecting them with a password still leaves them open and easily susceptible to breaches. People don’t realise that the possible consequences are a total unnecessary drain of time and damaging to their reputation. When a company has to explain to their customers and suppliers that an email that looks like it came from them is actually spam, they risk facing questions about whether their data has been compromised. This is all a result of people not adding extra layers of security to their accounts. They think it’s an added annoyance that will cause them more work throughout the day, which it doesn’t or at least it’s very minimal.

What key challenges do you see facing the IT industry?

Still on the security theme, making sure all IT systems are as secure as possible without compromising on production and usage.

What’s your favourite animal?

I really had to think about this – a honey badger, because it’s tenacious and won’t take a step back!

What are you currently binge watching?

I’m not a big Netflix person. I am a big cycling fan so the things I binge watch are pro cycling races, especially with the Tour de France on at the moment. I’m a big GCN+ subscriber.  

Do you cycle yourself?

Yes, and I set myself personal goals of miles per week, which, for this year, is an average of 120 miles per week.

You can connect with Lee on LinkedIn.

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