October 2018 How to succeed when the odds are stacked against you

We hear every day about the business challenges faced in many sectors of industry, whether it is the financial woes experienced by high street retail, industrial relations problems caused by a change-resistant workforce, skill shortages in nursing, or the disruptive effect of new technology on the established IT firms.

But what happens when several of these deep-rooted issues are present in your business at the same time and the way ahead looks entirely bleak?

Our case study contributor Bill Halbert, Group CEO of KCOM PLC, has experienced many of these challenges over the last 10 years. KCOM, formerly Kingston Communications, provides retail and wholesale telecoms and IT services to residents and businesses in the North East of England. Turnover over £300M.

Originally owned by Hull City Council, KCOM was floated as a PLC in 1999 and went through the growing pains experienced by all newly privatised ex-public sector companies. Financially challenged and loss-making, it grew through making acquisitions and raising debt finance and is now a profitable and highly successful business.

As a leader of KCOM, Bill’s challenge has been to make a series of difficult choices to turn the business around, return to profit and deliver shareholder value at a time of change.

His challenges are many and varied …

➢ How to determine which assets & services are core and non-core and could be sold ?

➢ Where to invest, which technology platforms and which could be wound down ?

➢ What to do when your workforce is trained in example; copper wiring whilst the world is moving to fibre? And data centres are being replaced by the cloud ? Do you train and upskill, hire in new, acquire, partner or outsource?

➢ How to futureproof your business against the threat of fraud & cyber attacks?

➢ How to change the culture and mindset of a workforce steeped in example; local government bureaucracy?

➢ Given the need to invest, how to raise much-needed capital in the most cost-efficient way?

Bill will shares, with all his learning and experiences of tackling these and many other challenges at KCOM and how he has been able to help other client businesses across many sectors of industry face similar issues.

Over the last 10 years Bill has served as Executive Deputy Chairman, Executive Chairman and then Group CEO at KCOM. Prior to that, he spent nearly 13 years as CEO of Syntegra, the consulting and systems integration subsidiary of BT. Bill also holds a number of NED, consulting and advisory roles in the technology space.

During the Boardroom, Bill shared his insights into the impact of technology innovation on business and the transformation opportunities which arise as a result.

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