Getting to know you: Stewart Smythe, CEO, Adapt

What do you currently do?

As CEO of Adapt, I am responsible for leading the development and execution of our long term strategy, with the aim of becoming the “go-to” provider for enterprise-grade cloud services in the UK market. Since joining Adapt 18 months ago, I have driven two headline-grabbing acquisitions and increased the company’s turnover from £35m to £55m.

What is your business?

Adapt is an award-winning, end-to-end managed IT services provider. Put simply, this means that we help our customers get from where they are now to where they want to be, using technology as the accelerator.

We help customers make the transition to highly secure, scalable, enterprise-class IT that delivers real-world competitive advantage, enabling change and innovation. We want to be a company our customers are proud to tell people about, a company that helps them achieve more by designing customised solutions that are precisely aligned with specific commercial outcomes and objectives.

Ultimately, it’s about delivering transformation to our customers’ businesses that has a visible impact on their bottom line.

Looking back are there things you would have done differently?

One of my biggest career setbacks involved trying to persuade a large PLC employer to invest in innovation and growth markets at the expense of its declining legacy business. It was something I believed passionately about and, in my opinion, was its best option. The company’s size meant it lacked flexibility and was more nervous about the legacy business shrinking than excited about the emerging growth opportunities.

After struggling to try and overcome the company’s lack of vision for a short period, I left – determined to make it happen elsewhere. That’s how I found myself at Adapt, with financial backers who are buzzing about the huge opportunity in the industry. So looking back, I think I have learned how and when to push concepts forward into reality and when to leave them.

What defines your way of doing business?

At Adapt, we strive to become a seamless extension of our customers’ IT teams. We work to deliver the most effective technology, wrapped in the highest quality service management and, importantly, we always know where our customers’ data is at all times (amazingly, a lot of companies cannot make this same claim).

Our unique high-touch model means everyone at Adapt individually focuses on a small number of customers, up to and including our dedicated technical teams. We have created a culture of ownership and encourage every team member to use his or her initiative to help deliver the best service. This means every customer gets individual attention from his or her own personal account manager and technical support team. None of our competitors does this.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

In business today, there are many (many) people with an ego. I would encourage anyone starting out today to not develop one – no matter how great you think you are! It happens all over the place at all levels. Sadly, too many people tolerate it rather than calling it out, so too many people get away with it.

Besides this, I would say know your business inside out. Knowledge and passion are what will set you apart from the rest.