Gareth started his career working for a global testing inspection certification (TIC) company, joining in a junior position, and working his way up through the company, eventually becoming the Commercial Director. Whilst he was working Gareth undertook a part-time degree, the ILM Level Five in Leadership and Management. Upon graduating top of the class with a Certificate of Excellence, his tutor recommended that he should go for an MBA, for which he managed to secure funding from both the Welsh Government and the European Social Fund.
During this time period, Gareth changed job roles, moving into the manufacturing sector, where he was the Sales and Marketing Director and from there on changed positions and industries, learning more about the different roles and responsibilities within business. He spent some time in recruitment and various Sales and Marketing and Business Development Director positions before arriving at Software Solved in June 2021.
The biggest lesson learned
The biggest lesson that Gareth has learned in his career is the importance of people. He says, “In any great organisation, you can have a great product and you can have a great service, but ultimately, it always comes back to the people. I think that the culture that you create, the way that you treat your staff, and support your staff ultimately defines whether you’re going to be a successful organisation”
Measuring his own success
In answer to how he measures his own success, Gareth responded “I’ve always been the type of person to plan. I’ve always set myself objectives and broken those down into individual milestones. I think that success is measured in multiple ways; some people look at it from a financial perspective and others from a status perspective. For me, and I think it’s something that the last few years in particular has highlighted, success is about being happy, it’s being comfortable whilst being challenged. It’s having the correct work life balance, being in a workplace you where you can actually apply yourself, somewhere where you can feel that you really added value, really make a difference. But not to the point that it takes its toll. I think I’ve arrived at a business that really fosters that sort of community type spirit really looks after its staff. And, you know, I think it’s probably the best business I’ve worked for in terms of the culture and the really strong ethical values of the business.”
Gareth explained that he’s had some really great mentors along his career so far, but also some really bad ones. “Those kinds of people who you would expect to be role models but in fact have shown you how not to do it.” He thinks that he probably learned more from those individuals than actual mentors because he could see their mistakes and learn from them. “I think if you’re in tune with that, and you can see how not to do something, you’re able to refine your own approach to ensure that you don’t make that other person’s mistakes. So that in effect, you’re learning by default.” Aside from that one of the individuals, who made the biggest or most profound impacts on him was one of his undergrad lecturers, “he’s the guy that really pushed me to apply myself and really pushed me into studying for my master’s degree. And we’ve stayed friends since; we touch base from time to time grab a coffee, and he’s probably had the most profound impact on my career.”
Continuing to develop and learn
“I think a lot of people use this or throw this term around quite flippantly as having a ‘growth mindset’ and I think a lot of people don’t really understand what it is. It can mean different things to different people. For me, a growth mindset is constantly being introspective, looking at the areas that you can improve, being realistic with yourself, as well understanding that everyone has weaknesses and constantly exploring what those weaknesses are, and looking at ways to improve yourself”, doing the best you can, with the resources you have at your disposal, in that moment. He goes on to explain that at a macro level, it’s “constantly scanning the horizon, looking at what changes are happening within the industry” and that at the micro-level, “looking at your closer business community within your network is essential.” Taking yourself out of your comfort zone is an important thing to Gareth, as he says, “no one really progresses by sitting in the comfy chair.” It’s important to be exposed to different scenarios, different challenges, and try to see things from other people’s perspective. Something that he constantly strives to do, and something that he thinks has really helped him as a professional.
Biggest challenges as a leader
The biggest challenge that Gareth had in his career, was his first step into a leadership position. “You know, that move from being ‘one of the boys’ on the shop floor, and then being seen in a supervisory position. The way that you’re perceived just changes; you’ve gone from being a colleague or co-worker to someone’s leader. I think that transition was probably the hardest. That shift in mindset, that I’m not just responsible for delivering a task, now I’m responsible for people’s livelihoods.”
Continuing this topic, he states that he feels that as a person climbs the career ladder those transitions become easier although each presents their own challenges and each organisation also bringing its own unique set of challenges. “I think is important to realise that part of the job is being inspired by life and how you address those challenges is very important.”
Generating a good team culture
“Firstly, you’ve got to start by having the right team. I think that’s very, very important. I think that having members of the team who are closely aligned to the company values and your own set of values; obviously there should be a consistent thread throughout.”
“You quickly understand if there are people within a team that don’t necessarily fit, so fostering the right sort of team mentality is key. Really, I think you’ve just got to be authentic. If you’re genuinely aligned to the company values and you are authentic with it, I think that comes across. I don’t think there’s anything that can really replace that authenticity as a leader. I think generally people resonate with you when you are your authentic self. When you are able to show a little bit of vulnerability by showing your own personality, you can’t fake it.
The other aspect I would say is, try to lead by example. Eg, I wouldn’t ask anyone to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself.”
When asked about how to motivate the team, Gareth was of the viewpoint that it’s a combination of both employing effective motivational methods and the psychology of the team itself which makes the difference. But that the root of all effective motivation is based on communication and of by leading by example, of taking the time to celebrate successes and give people the recognition they deserve. “Unfortunately, a lot of organisations aren’t celebrating those successes and taking the time to really give people the credit and recognition that they deserve for doing a really good job. Unfortunately, in Western culture, a lot of us are just expected to do the job and if you do a good job, then that’s great, but you’re just expected to get onto the next task without getting any credit.”
Ultimately, for Gareth, where his strengths lie and what has made his career a success so far, in terms of leadership, motivation and team success, is all based around being authentic and having really good communication between team members and managers. “keeping those lines of communication open, flowing both ways, being willing and open to receive feedback both constructive and positive. Ultimately I try to manage how I want to be managed.”
Find out more about the people at the forefront of what we do on the Meet the Team page.