If you’d like an insight into the workings of MD Stephen Alexander’s brain take a look at the interview below that appeared recently on the North West Business Desk…..
LOGGED In With. . . Stephen Alexander
Organisation: First Internet
Job title: Managing Director
Career highlights: Knowing that I started the First Internet business from my kitchen table and seeing the success it has become is one of the biggest career highlights I have.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career to date? Early on in my career my boss once said something that has stuck with me ever since. He said: ‘I don’t pay the wages; the clients pay all our wages’ A service business like ours can only prosper if we provide an unbeatable service to clients. It’s a sentiment I pass onto all my employees and one that informs everything we do at First Internet.
What are your key responsibilities? As the managing director I oversee the day-to-day running of the company. I’m involved in every area of the business in one form or another. The nature of the industry in which First Internet operates means that it would be impossible to take your eye of the ball for a second because the technology is evolving so rapidly.
What do you enjoy most and least about your role? Most: I’ve seen many changes over the years with the changes in technology, and it keeps us fresh as a company and keeps me on my toes. Least: As I’m getting older my tastes in design are more and more frequently getting out voted! I don’t really mind to be honest – I’m happy for the rest of the studio to bring their more up-to-date opinions to the table!
What’s your secret to managing people? Patience is the key. It’s essential to let your people develop in their own way (within reason of course). I’m happy to give advice and guidance but I don’t believe in trying to make people ‘perfect’ or mould them into something they’ll never be. It’s unrealistic and more often than not stops them reaching their own potential.
What are the biggest barriers to your organisation’s success? The constant evolution of technology and new media is not so much a barrier as a constant challenge.
How has technology changed your life in the last five years? Technology has transformed almost everyone’s lives in the last few years. It’s certainly made it more difficult to escape the studio – my blackberry is constantly in hand, wherever I am.
How has it changed/impacted on your business in the same period? It is at the centre of our business. In particular, the introduction and popularity of technology like smart phones and iPads has transformed the requirements of our customers hugely. I can only imagine what First Internet will need to be able to develop for its customers in the next five years.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what alternative career would you chose and why? I think I would like to have been a history teacher. I love reading history books. Ironic considering my business is all about future developments.
Which sectors do you think will thrive/ struggle in the coming years? It sounds glib but online stores are only going to go from strength to strength. You can buy almost anything online and traditional high street shops simply can’t compete.
What do you feel are the key skills/qualities needed to run a successful business in the 21st Century? Flexibility is the key. We created Delicious Design, a division of First Internet, as a result of listening to the needs of our customers who kept asking if we could design collateral such as exhibition panels and print brochures. Being flexible enough to incorporate these new services gave us a great opportunity to grow the business.
Which public figure do you admire most and why? David Attenborough. When you’ve been around as long as he has and to remain as successful and enthusiastic in all that he works on is a great achievement.
In five words, describe your character: Patient, determined, experienced, confident and candid.
Which actor/actress would you chose to play you in a film? I’d like to say Sean Connery but I’d probably end up with someone from Coronation Street!