In the latest of our series of articles with senior executives, Vanessa Moon, Director at Moon Executive Search, talks to Giles Letheren, Chief Executive Officer at Delt Shared Services who has recently been named IOD South West Director of the Year. In this article, Vanessa and Giles talk about their shared love of the TV series Blake’s 7, Giles’ passion for his business and the inclusive, people centred approach he’s adopted.
If you cast your mind back to 1978, the first series of Blake’s 7 had just hit our TV screens. It had spaceships, robots, galactic empires and aliens, but above all it was fun to watch – a theme that resonates both with myself and Giles. It was obvious from our discussion that this thread runs though Giles’s business, and is underpinned by both professionalism and the desire to do the right thing by the businesses’ customers and partners, comments Vanessa.
So, putting the sci-fi aside for a moment, let’s talk about Delt Shared Services.
Founded in 2014, Delt Shared Services is an innovative shared services partnership between local government and the NHS. In the last five years they have grown from 80 staff to 180 staff and a turnover of £18 million. As an independent business they provide a bridge between local government and the NHS and offer outsourced back office services such as IT, payroll as well as digital print, change consultancy and cyber security.
Strong values, such as integrity and transparency, are important to the business, and the values set in 2014 are not only still relevant but continue to be followed throughout the business today, explains Giles. We have ambitious plans to grow the business to £100 million and 1000-1500 employees, move to a new head office in Plymouth, expand the services into new areas and build a UK wide offering. I believe that it will be our values led platform which will support the business as we drive towards being the best in the sector.
It was interesting to hear Giles talk about the values led culture at Delt, comments Vanessa. While the traditional hiring pulls of salary, role scope and career path are still important, in today’s candidate driven market more emphasis is being placed the softer elements such as culture. And, those organisations which have a values-led culture will find it easier to attract and retain strong candidates.
A Changing Market
While the concept of shared services has sometimes had a negative connotation in the past, Giles believes that perception is changing. It is important to make sure that your business model is not all about the bottom line, as whilst cost savings are important, clients want to work with a business partner that has a culture and work ethics which reflect their own.
At Delt, we have a strong relationship with our shareholders, and we incorporate their values into our business model, comments Giles. We place a lot of emphasis on the importance of our employees’ health and well-being. We want to promote a people first culture where our employees are treated respectfully and there is a real balance between work and family. We invest in our people and actively encourage training and mentoring with our executive coaches.
Blockers to Implementation
If you look at the NHS, for example, it may be viewed as one whole organisation, but in reality it is a whole host of different organisations that have different ways of working with their own finance systems and HR systems, which adds a layer of complexity and cost. For the different entities within the NHS to be able to operate efficiently, effectively and share patient data, a degree of consolidation of back office services is needed, and that’s where Delt comes in, explains Giles.
Of course, there is scope for the shared services model to be used on a wider basis across the public sector, but one of the blockers to wider implementation is the fact that things can, and do, go wrong. You get headlines which say, “we are folding this because there was a pensions issue, it failed to receive the commercial revenues we were inspecting.” In truth, what you are not seeing is that the real reason for the fail is because the partners involved in the project fell out, adds Giles. For this reason, a good working relationship and a business model based on integrity and transparency is so important.
My background is a mixture of public and private sector but delivering a cheap IT service isn’t something which motivates me, explains Giles. My passion is being able to grow a business and while the mad capitalist in me is determined to see double digit year on year revenue growth, this will only be sustainable if we properly embed our values into the business.
When I joined Delt it had a set of eight very clear objectives, the biggest of which was the creation of a platform for sustainable economic growth. Five years later we have done just that. To keep doing it we need more partners, more customers and more reach but alongside that we have to stay true to our values.
Whilst we are an IT and technology business at our core and 80-90% of our revenue comes from technology, the fundamental principle of the business is that we are able to take people out of the public sector, bring them into the Delt Shared Service model, and a year later you have got the same people doing broadly the same jobs, but they are doing them better and they cost less money, explains Giles. That is not a technology thing, that is a people thing, and our real success is built on our ability to change the narrative in people’s heads and make them want to come to work.
Moon Executive Search has worked with a range of shared service providers from those just starting out in the market to established businesses. Our experience has always been about the positivity in such businesses, the desire for great customer service and upholding the integrity of all parties. From talking to Giles, Delt clearly fits this model, comments Vanessa. As CEO, Giles displays a real passion for his role and the business. He is immensely proud of his colleagues and the business’ growth to date. There is undoubtedly more to come though, so we will be hearing more from him and Delt as their story continues.
In terms of our recent work in this area, Moon Executive Search have been working with a newly formed Shared Service group in the South West on a multi-board build including CEO, COO and Non-Executive Board members. If you’d like to have a confidential discussion about your business requirements then please contact me on email@example.com or +44 (0) 1275 371 200 .