Spotlight interview with Phil Bird managing director of The PC Support Group

Philip Bird MD of the pc support group
Phil Bird MD of The PC Support Group

Phil is the managing director of The PC Support Group who provide IT support to small and medium-sized business in the Northwest.

Who in your life has influenced you most and why?

A man called Allan Gray. He was my boss at a software company when I was in my twenties and when that business folded he and I set up our own business but he was the main driver as I didn’t have a clue about setting up and running a business. His positive approach to challenges and the way he managed people was a real inspiration.

What do you do for fun?

A few years ago I took up road cycling and that’s just escalated. I’ve since done a London to Paris ride and the Tour de Yorkshire sportive. I’m a bit of a masochist as I prefer riding in the Derbyshire hills to the Cheshire plains.

What’s the best bit of business advice you’ve been given? 

It’s probably a bit of advice that’s become a cliché but I still think it holds true… employ people that are better than you. To start a business and get it moving you have to be pretty good but for it to grow and become truly exceptional you need people who can bring more expertise in each area.

If you could have a 1 to 1 with anyone past or present who would it be with and why?

Josiah Wedgewood. The man was amazing and he’s a real hero of mine. He was scientist who did thousands of experiments to perfect his pottery and invented various instruments to assist this process, he was an artist who designed much of the pottery too, he was a businessman and entrepreneur, he changed the face of marketing and he was a campaigner for social reform, even designing broaches against slavery. Incredible!

What is the biggest challenge in your industry right now?

There is a real skills gap looming in the IT industry so finding great IT people to provide great PC support is probably our biggest challenge. We focus a huge amount on service and communication which makes this challenge even greater for us as technical staff are often not strong in these areas.

Tell us about the most memorable client or customer that you have interacted with during your years in business?

I have a few but one situation I recall was when I was working with a client based in Italy and I went over to Genoa to present to them. I did a 2 hour long presentation to 9 of their senior management and had a long lunch with them, all conducted in English and they were all Italian. I felt humbled by their generosity and embarrassed in my lack of linguistic skills!

How is Brexit affecting/going to affect your business?

We’re very lucky that our business doesn’t directly deal with any overseas clients or suppliers so the main impact will be the knock on from the successes or failures of our clients due to Brexit. As we deal with a lot of businesses I expect that some will shrink and some will grow due to Brexit so I expect it will balance out for us. I really feel for those more directly impacted as the lack of decisions being made in government must be putting them under huge pressure.

Where do you believe are the biggest opportunities right now for your business and in your sector? 

I think cloud computing is still advancing and security is also a major area of growth. With regards to cloud computing we see a trend towards more clients moving from in-house servers to cloud offerings (such as Office 365) to save on capital expenditure and give them greater flexibility with things like remote working. As one client recently put it “I think us having an overheating lump of metal in our office is just old fashioned”. And the huge increase in cyber-attacks on small and medium sized businesses (58% increase this year to date based on Lloyds Bank survey) has made security a hugely important area for us. We have already added a number of new security related services to our portfolio to help protect our clients and more are in the pipeline. The hackers are constantly adapting and we have to help our clients keep up to date.

How do you motivate your staff?

I believe motivation has to come from within so the best way to encourage this is to create a positive and open environment where everyone feels they are part of something special. I ensure everyone knows our plans and all the staff know they can come and ask me for more detail any time, and we hold social events outside of work to foster relationships.

What do you most enjoy about running your business?

The main thing that gives me a buzz is to see staff learning and growing through the business. It doesn’t always happen as sometimes we’re not a good fit but when it does it’s fantastic and I want to see how far they can go. Maybe taking my job one day!

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