Sarah-Jane Smyth, Principal, United Kingdom
''I value the investment Netcompany puts into its people. Netcompany understands that its people are its business and it invests in each of us.''
Why did you choose to take a job at Netcompany?
I chose Netcompany as it ticked all the boxes for me; it is technology forward, has a great culture, and supports and invests in its people.
Netcompany is the UK’s leading scaled, digital and cloud native, full-stack IT services business. The Netcompany heritage is as the primary supplier of IT services to the Danish government where Netcompany were instrumental in supporting Denmark getting ranked #1 in the UN’s world ranking of digital public services. The ambition is to replicate the same success across other EU countries and I wanted to be a part of that transformational change supporting EU Governments to use IT differently and ultimately having a positive impact on the lives of everyday people.
The culture is one that is high-energy and forward-looking, our people are always horizon-scanning and looking for the next development in our industry and encouraged to ‘play and learn’, collaborating and sharing with our colleagues about new innovation frequently. This model drives a culture that is as energetic and youthful as it is supportive of one another.
Finally for me, I value the investment Netcompany puts into its people. Netcompany understands that its people are its business and it invests in each of us. Netcompany has its own unique Academy where you can access Netcompany designed courses in all IT disciplines, it has a very active Mentoring scheme designed to support every consultant through their individual journey with Netcompany, and importantly it has a very active social aspect. Netcompany finds its structured and systematic effort to train and develop each consultant via the Netcompany Academy, combined with extensive focus on social activities, both attracts and retains the best industry talent.
What are your typical daily tasks?
I lead our Defence sector, so for me each day is highly varied. One day I might find myself presenting to leaders in Defence about how our technology solution can solve a unique problem they are facing, the next day I can be in a brainstorming session with our internal team on how we can pull together a value-add proof-of-concept using the latest cloud innovation or open source technologies.
What all my days do include a lot of is talking! Netcompany is a highly collaborative company – we support each other as sounding-boards to develop ideas, we explore and solve challenges together. During the COVID-19 lockdown it has been no different, if anything there has been an increased effort to ensure everyone is engaged and feels supported.
What projects/tasks have been the most interesting – and why?
Each project and task I’ve taken on has had its own merit for different reasons. I enjoy learning new things and experiencing new scenarios, and each project I’ve worked on at Netcompany has offered me that.
My Background is in Apps Dev so I will always favour an Apps Dev project, specifically one that uses the latest technology solutions and/or solves a challenge that other suppliers consider ‘too hard’.
I always make a point of understanding the benefits to the users of what we’re building, it puts another context to the solution discussions and generates a real sense of pride when the product we developed is live and delivering those benefits.
What thoughts have you had on being a good leader and what is good management to you?
There are so many different ways to lead and each approach has its merit in different scenarios. Good leadership comes from being authentic.
A good leader sets direction, they don’t have all the answers of how they get to a destination but they do need to hold the trust of the team and empower their team so that they can successfully navigate their way together.
Good management is encouragement and support. It’s about empowering people and teams and giving them the tools and importantly the space to succeed and grow. It’s also about having those honest conversations and being prepared to catch someone if they are about fall. A good manager will make sure their team are challenged and stretched, driving innovation and new ideas, but equally not exposed.
How do you make work and family life come together?
I have 2 children (11 and 8), so work fitting alongside family life is important to me. It will always be a balance to work full-time and be that present and active parent that our children need us to be. For me I balance it by accepting I can only do my best. Sometimes I fail, like when I sent my son to school fully dressed up as a Roman Emperor on the wrong week, or when I did the old ‘purchased cakes’ for the school bake-sale. But positively my kids know I try my best, I might occasionally slip up, but they get so much more out of the stories and experiences I share about my day, they get access to a world that they are yet to experience.
Netcompany is very supportive of our lives outside of work, it is not the sort of consultancy that sees regular late working as a positive. We do all occasionally need to put in the additional hours to get something over the line, but that’s rare and only when genuinely important.
How do you experience work/life-balance at Netcompany?
Netcompany treats everyone as grown-ups so I have a positive work-life balance, and one which is within my gift to control.