I’m a software engineer by training and MBA drop out by choice. After a ten year corporate career at BT, I left to go it alone. My first business was a design and marketing agency which I ran for seven years. Eventually I realised two things :
- Consultancies are really hard to scale.
- I was terrible at being a consultant.
Around 2006, I sold that business (more like “gave it away”) and founded a business that became Reward Gateway. This was my big success and I ran that company for 12 years. During my time there we grew to over 400 staff servicing over 2,000 clients from 6 offices in UK, Bulgaria, USA and Australia. I sold shares in the business twice through two private equity deals, one in 2010 and another in 2015. It is now run by a most wonderful man Doug Butler who has take many of the things I started and made them his own – much better in most cases!
Reward Gateway is a SaaS technology company helping corporate and enterprise clients with their employee engagement journey. We built a platform and tools that companies used to better communicate with, reward and survey their employees. This work, combined with my own efforts to scale the business to 400+ people caused me to develop my skills in people, company culture and employee engagement.
I stood down as CEO of Reward Gateway in September 2017 and spent a year in a new full time position as Founder. This gave me time to finish my first book, Build It : A Rebel Playbook for Employee Engagement where, along with my co-author Debra Corey, I tried to explain everything I’d learned about people and how to get the best out of them.
I travelled a lot as RG CEO visiting our offices and customers around the world. Attempting to build Reward Gateway USA saw me spend three years living between London and New York and another two living between London and Boston. As a result of that I’ve developed an allergy to long-haul travel. It’s Europe all the way for me, regardless of the Brexit debacle.
In 2020 I joined Tenzing Private Equity full time (which is four days a week for me) to help their portfolio companies to grow. It’s a lovely team, well intentioned and together we’re trying to build a new type of PE firm that is founder-focused and entrepreneur led. I get to work with great people internally and also to build a wonderful network of kind, helpful and understanding entrepreneurs and specialists.
On the personal front, I’m gay, happily married to a wonderful Danish guy, Kristian, for 10 years and we’re also in a committed long term relationship with a German textile designer called Noël. I’ve been living happily and healthily with HIV for over 27 years. So I guess I’m not the most conventional of guys in PE. Not that there’s anything wrong with being conventional – it’s just nice to have the odd alternative I think.
“If only I was black, I would give Tenzing enough diversity points to win at diversity bingo. Which wouldn’t take much as PE is a shockingly non-diverse industry. Something I hope to have a small influence on in the coming years”
And perhaps my slightly less than traditional life has given me a way of seeing things differently. I guess I’ve certainly learned (or been forced) to question authority, challenge established wisdom, make my own mind up about things and decide what my own values and ethics are. It probably also helps my to me more empathetic which combined with a naturally high level of curiosity makes me very much who I am.
I currently live between London, Berlin and Ibiza, so if I’m not at home, you’ll probably find me at London City Airport. We have a daschund called Wesley who is a real sweetheart.