The next chapter at Advanced – leadership secrets

Published 17/10/2019 by Gordon Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, Advanced

This month saw us finalise the investment deal that we announced in August, ensuring we are well placed to accelerate the plans for the next chapter of our business.

Although the deal is undoubtedly a significant marker in our journey, achieving sustainable growth also depends on solid foundations – a workforce with engaged and motivated people, loyal customers and, of course, a strong leadership team with focused goals and the vision to drive Advanced forward. These all come together to make a business attractive for that investment.

And this is where the value of the CEO really lies. I’ve always believed in building a business on some core principles – be bold enough to build the right leadership team, throwing politics and fear out of the boardroom to get people behind the leadership’s vision and goals. It’s a privilege to have recently shared these on the BBC as part of its programme called ‘CEO Secrets’. They were interested in my business motto: ‘No Politics, Be Fearless and Act at Pace’.

My core belief is that a company can only be successful by removing all politics, ensuring people are free to be fearless and making sure there’s only space for the right people with the same vision.

My lightbulb moment came several years ago, when working as a sales director in another company. Sitting in a board meeting, the people sat around the table were ego-focused, lacked trust in the CEO and had no shared vision or goals. Although the business had many of the right ingredients, a lack of some of these core areas meant the business was vulnerable – it could simply fall apart, lose share holder confidence and lose all business value. I was so confident in the importance of my core belief that I was compelled to share my views and, subsequently, got appointed as MD.

I’ve followed the same mantra ever since – it’s been fundamental in transforming fragmented leadership teams and broken businesses. Although not to the same extent, it was identifying some of these issues which made me so excited to join Advanced – I could definitely see the potential.

The last few years have seen us go through a huge transformation process, going from a board of 23 people, 14 MDs and a business that was essentially a federation of 14 businesses. We took a huge leap forward to create a powerful leadership team which has contributed to Advanced’s success in becoming the third largest software company in the UK.

Our very own Annual Trends Survey Report that we’ve been running for four years now – with the 2019/2020 being launched next month at the CBI Conference – highlights some of the most important attributes for a business leader in the digital era. One of these is the ability to react with pace and make bold decisions.

It was undoubtedly a proud moment to secure the largest enterprise value deal in the UK software industry in a decade, attracting the £2bn investment from leading private equity companies BC Partners and Vista Equity. And we will retain our focus to ensure accelerated growth for Advanced’s next chapter, which is to become number one in the UK business software sector.