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Brightsolid boss Elaine Maddison says culture is key to the firm’s future success

Elaine Maddison, chief executive of brightsolid
Elaine Maddison, chief executive of brightsolid

The boss of Scottish cloud computing and data centre specialist brightsolid has hailed a major culture shift as key to its financial stability amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Elaine Maddison, the firm’s chief executive, said her focus on moving the business beyond its reputation for co-location and managed private cloud work to offer consulting and managed services for hybrid and public sector clients was also helping to lay strong foundations for its future.

Ms Maddison took the helm at brightsolid – part of Scottish media group DC Thomson – two years ago.

Her previous job as transformation director at financial services company Aegon equipped her well for the past 12 months, when she has not only had to steer the company she leads to a secure future but do so against a background of seismic changes in the technology industry and wider economy.

The last thing I needed was to be responsible for the NHS going down.”

Elaine Maddison, chief executive, brightsolid

Brightsolid was already providing “mission-critical” infrastructure and services for the NHS and local authorities before the pandemic, so to some extent it has been “business as usual,” she said.

But the firm’s workforce had to get used to operating remotely from the outset,

Ms Maddison said the first few months were largely spent responding to customers who were themselves having to transition to a new way of working.

She added: “We’ve traded relatively well, thanks to our business being really clear about what we needed to do as a team.

“As chief executive, the last thing I needed was to be responsible for the NHS going down.”

Customers were forced to think more about their digital transition and accelerate it, creating a “sharpened focus” on cloud technology, she said, adding: “The way that we all work has changed, which we think will only be good for us in the longer term.”

Transformation

While some companies have put new investments on hold during the pandemic, others are expediting change as they need to adapt their business models to support new ways of working and changing market needs.

Technology and connectivity have played a critical part in the Covid-19 crisis and will continue to do so as part of a wider recovery.

As part of its own recent transformation, brightsolid has launched a new professional services practice to meet the needs of customers seeking guidance around cloud computing.

Ms Maddison said the company turned over about £10 million in its 2018-19 trading year.

Recently published accounts for DC Thomson said the wholly-owned subsidiary continued to grow revenue in the year to March 31 2020. Further growth is expected in 2020-21.

“I firmly believe that if you get the culture of the organisation right, it will stand you in good stead,” Ms Maddison said.

A more trusting relationship brings employers and their employees much closer together.”

She added: “During this pandemic we have seen a lot of organisations moving from ‘command and control’ to putting people at the heart of their business, and making sure everyone knows where they are  heading.

“A more trusting relationship brings employers and their employees much closer together.”

Since the start of the first lockdown, Ms Maddison has regularly called up employees to personally check how they are.

She also implemented a “buddy” system, allowing employees to connect with others to see how they are coping, or perhaps just have a virtual coffee meeting and chat.

These initiatives are helping to maintain the “community feeling” at the heart of the company’s new culture, she said.

brightsolid data centre at Lang Stracht, Aberdeen.

Dundee-based brightsolid is doing its bit to equip Scotland for a high-tech digital future.

It opened a £5 million data centre in Aberdeen just over five years ago and the new facility won contracts worth more than £1m in its first few months.

Unveiling its technology predictions for 2021 recently, brightsolid said Covid-19 and the transformation it has led to for workforces everywhere will mean changes this year are likely be more focused on improving user experiences, rather than on advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence or the Internet of Things.

Its five themes to “watch” for further progress during 2021 included cloud-based services, IT service delivery, cybersecurity, disaster recovery and homeworking.

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