We recently had the pleasure of being introduced to Julie Simpson, Founder and CEO of ResourceiT Consulting Ltd…a real inspiration! Read on to find out more…
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Julie Simpson, and I am the Founder and CEO of ResourceiT Consulting Ltd. My organisation was created in 2003 to support technology businesses with accelerated, profitable growth. We provide business, sales and marketing resources to our clients as a complement to existing in-house teams or as a fully-managed out-sourced service. Microsoft is our biggest client, and we are a preferred vendor to Microsoft in the UK, US, Canada, APAC and throughout Europe. Microsoft will often fund or co-fund our services to help its partners drive growth faster. We have delivered over 2,000 projects for Microsoft and its partners over the years from the largest to the smallest and our clients come in all shapes and sizes, and at all stages of business maturity.
What is it that you love most about your work?
I have a thirst for learning and I love the part of my job that means I can meet and engage with so many different people at all levels, every day. This goes from being closely engaged with the outstanding team of people that choose to work with me at ResourceiT and within our clients. I learn something new from someone every single day, almost every hour sometimes. By listening carefully to what people say to me I find myself inspired to go and research something, look something up and then absorb it and try, where relevant, to pass that knowledge on. It makes for such interesting and diverse conversation and I love that I get that knowledge simply by going to work every day and listening to what people have to say.
What strengths or personal attributes do you think have really helped you to succeed?
I never give up until I have exhausted every possible option. Being the youngest of nine children I have always had to fight for my seat at the table and nothing was ever given to me without working for it. I believe being so competitive and my deep-seated raw determination has enabled me to build the amazing organisation that is ResourceiT. I’ve always been creative and quite entrepreneurial and ran my first event when I was about 7 years old, lining up all my old toys at the end of the street and selling them to people. I think I wanted money for going swimming or something like that – whatever the reason I made a sum total of 51 pence which was a lot of money back in the 1970’s! I also really enjoy having a good time and always try and bring a bit of fun and personality to the office. Life is far too short and we spend ever such a long time at work – no-one wants to deal with a bore and be yawning through a business meeting or call, so I believe my humour and energy has helped me a lot to succeed and I hope is one of the reasons people choose to work for me or with me. Just because you are at work doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time – whoever you are.
How have you managed set backs / challenges along the way?
I don’t believe you learn much when things go right (as good as that feels). I feel you learn more when thing go wrong, so for me a set-back or challenge is again an opportunity to learn. I always try to think logically through a challenge, doing a simple SWOT and weighing up the potential conclusions in a logical way helps me to put my emotions to one side and make robust decisions. The best way to learn from setbacks I think is to take responsibility for them. Asking yourself what part you played in whatever it was that went wrong and what you could have done differently (essentially taking responsibility) are key to personal and professional growth. My network is also critically valuable to me. I am very fortunate to have built up some long-term, trusted business relationships with some absolute super heroes in their field. I’m never afraid to ask people for help or for an opinion, although I can honestly say that if I had listened to everyone I asked, I would never have gone out on my own and started up the business. Although in the early days I experienced some major challenges (cash-flow being the most painful), knowing that you only have yourself to rely upon to make the big decisions really focuses the mind. There’s no-one to blame, no door to knock on – I think that’s where taking responsibility really kicks in and helps me to get over things quickly. So I manage set-backs by saying ‘get over it’ and challenges by applying logic and not emotion (and am never afraid to admit I don’t know something or need help).
What is your formula / top tips for a successful work / life balance?
The incredible support I get from my husband has meant that I have been able to strive forwards and reach higher than I could have ever hoped in my career. There have been some major highlights, attending global conferences, gaining the Number One Top Session at Microsofts global partner conference last year from over 700 sessions being a big one, but I couldn’t have done it on my own. Without his support with the family, home and business I would never be where I am today so I think one of the tips for a successful work/life balance is having the right support around you. In our house we are a team, and we work as a team. I know that sounds corny (and there are definitely some pink jobs and some blue jobs in there), but mostly we both do whatever needs doing. There’s no difference between putting the washing on or going to the US on business. It’s just a set of tasks and whoever is best placed to do it at the time takes it on. We also have a few ‘curfew’ rules at home (although I must admit I do break them sometimes). The rule is I work whatever hours I need to from Monday to Thursday – but unless there are exceptional circumstances, the weekends belong to my home life. Even during the working week I do try not to be reading emails after 10pm, or I go to bed thinking about work, can’t sleep and am not at my peak performance the next day. So my tips for striking the right balance are to make time for yourself, have and look after the people around you, the right people, and don’t live just for work. Oh and enjoying a gin and tonic or nice glass of wine J
What advice would you give to a woman looking to achieve a senior role?
If you want a senior role then it is imperative you understand how the business works. I am always shocked when I meet Senior Directors of big businesses who don’t know the turnover, mission, or objectives of the company or how many people work there. How can you be in a Senior position and not understand the business? So if you want to progress get to know the business. Ask questions, show you are focused on what makes the business successful and are a key part of that.
When I started to move into more Senior jobs I learnt very quickly that the person I worked for was of critical importance to me. I really needed to believe in that person and the goals, objectives and culture of the business. In my experience, it’s great to be different, and bring different skills to a role, but to truly make a difference there has to be a fit. A fit for you, for the team and for the company you choose to work for.
I also believe that anyone can have just about anything they want if they work for it, but should always do it for the right reasons. For example, if you want to be the boss, ask yourself why that is? Is it because you want the bigger salary/car etc or because you want to be a leader and build something amazing? Sometimes we find ourselves pushing and pushing and running and running and don’t stop to ask – why am I doing this? Is this really making me happy? Finally, I would say that being a leader and having people respect you is the most amazing achievement and a lot of that respect will come from taking responsibility. It is my belief that for a true leader, when it goes right you say ‘we’ and when it goes wrong you say ‘I’. Anyone going for a Senior role should be ready, willing and prepared to take the hit whenever they need to so always remember that the buck stops with you. Throwing people under the bus was never my preferred strategy – I’ve seen people do it, but you really don’t need to be like that to progress. Don’t forget who you are and what you stand for. Be true to yourself.