In an interview with Insights Success, Gina Gray—Commercial Director of Celaton Limited discusses her journey to becoming a leader both in her organization and industry. Her unique approach to leadership and sheer determination have enabled her to achieve many milestones.
Insights Success admires such leaders and takes pride in featuring such women leaders in its special edition, ’The 20 Female Tech Trailblazers’.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Give a brief overview of your background and your role in Celaton Limited.
I have over 20 years’ experience and extensive knowledge in commercial and business development roles within enterprise software, managed services, communications, networks and SaaS. I joined Celaton in 2014 and have been key in developing the business model and building a varied customer base including ASOS, Dixons Carphone, TalkTalk, Kuoni, Zenith Hygiene (part of the Diversey Group) Virgin Trains and Capgemini. Initially at Celaton, my role was focused on business development by building relationships with partners and any new direct customers. My role has expanded signiﬁcantly over the last 6 years, and I now have overarching responsibility for the total business revenue, including business development, marketing, partnerships, and existing customers. I also work closely with our CTO, along with the project management, implementation, and support teams to ensure we are able to deliver to, and where possible exceed customer expectations.
How do you maintain a balance between your professional & personal life?
I must admit, this is a tricky thing to achieve and if I am honest, I sometimes ﬁnd it a struggle. Exercise really helps me achieve some level of balance and I attend yoga and ’Boogie Bounce’ classes—if nothing else the latter is great fun and enables me to “boogie” out some of the stresses of the week. In addition, I have been competitively riding horses since I was young, and it really is a sport that I am passionate about. Nothing helps to focus your mind more than riding half a tonne of living, breathing animal with a mind of its own!
What was your life-changing event/ incident that changed your life?
The biggest event that changed my life was when I was 18 years old and my whole family relocated 300 miles away to Cornwall. This fundamentally changed my approach to life, as I needed to become totally self-suﬃcient and independent. While many of my peers were at college or university, I was working hard to pay my bills and carve a career for myself. This experience gave me conﬁdence in my own abilities and helped to give me the drive needed to progress to the point where I am now. At the time I was terriﬁed of failing, but I was patient and persevered and looking back what seemed daunting at the time has really helped shape who I am today.
What strategies do you undertake to make your employees resourceful?
Resourcefulness is a crucial attribute for all employees at Celaton because it breeds innovation through having to ﬁnd creative solutions. This is at the heart of what we do –delivering the best and most innovative outcomes for our customers. To instill this resourcefulness in my team, I believe that it is important to have trust in them and because of this I don’t micromanage and ensure that there is a culture of open and honest communication. I provide them with the freedom to fail without consequence because it is only through exploring all options available that the best outcome can be achieved.
What are some of the vital attributes, in your opinion, that every leader should possess?
As a leader, above the needs of the business, your responsibility is to your team. As such you need to possess attributes which help to nurture and develop them from both a professional and personal perspective. To enable this a mentoring approach to leadership is required and it is essential that a leader is patient, compassionate and empathetic.
How necessary is it to align business with technology and what are its outcomes?
Aligning business with technology is imperative in today’s world. All too often the hype surrounding certain technologies can overwhelm organizations and there is a trend of ’technology for technology’s sake’. This leads to poor ROI and misalignment of expectations within businesses. It is fundamental before starting on a Digital Transformation journey that organizations truly understand their business case – what are they looking to achieve? What outcomes are they seeking? In response to this, suppliers need to create outcome-driven solutions, rather than trying to apply a ’one size’ ﬁts all technology. In doing so, greater operational eﬃciencies, enhanced customer service, employee satisfaction, competitive advantage and improved bottom line will be achieved. Ultimately, adopting an outcome-based approach will enable a stronger alignment of technology within businesses because of a shared end goal.
How do you sustain your entrepreneurial spirit in this changing technological era?
Success is a real driver for me – there is nothing better than being able to deliver a great solution to a customer which enables them to achieve real value. Due to this drive, I am continually thinking about the next problem we can solve for our customers. To do this I rely on my team, the culture of innovation and open communication enable ideas and research to be shared and fuel my entrepreneurial spirit.
What advice would you like to give to the emerging entrepreneurs?
Be true to yourself, believe in your convictions and don’t let anyone deter you from what you know to be the right path. Most importantly enjoy what you do and have fun.