Practising what you preach

A strong team is crucial to longevity and for Enterprise Solutions, at the core are two sisters who have embraced the rapidly-changing landscape

Back row: Shane O’Neill, principal EUC architect; Shane Garry, technical director; Declan Harris, financial controller; Derek Cullen, founder & sales director. Front row: Denise Cullen, managing director; Niamh O’Donovan, sales manager

To hit the 25-year mark is an achievement many organisations aim for, but few reach. A constantly evolving world makes even the first couple of years a challenge – but while external factors change, the consistency of standards and ethos pulls them through.

Enterprise Solutions finds itself at this point where the products and approaches have significantly changed since it was first founded in 1997, but the core principles and ethos remain the same.

Derek Cullen, the founder of Enterprise Solutions, maintains the strategic position of sales director; simultaneously, the heart and drive that make the company stand out are down to Denise Cullen, its managing director, and Niamh O’Donovan, its sales manager.

Cullen and O’Donovan are unique in that they’re sisters working together and veterans of the technology industry. While more women are advancing to C-suite and executive roles, the sisters are two of a collection of women who have paved the way for the next generation to take inspiration.

That said, neither thought of themselves as representatives but were instead focused on delivering the best-quality service possible.

“I didn’t initially think of myself as a woman in tech because I saw it as being an engineer or deploying [software],” said O’Donovan.

Much of the work in recent years is breaking down perceptions on what “being in tech” means. Technology is just a way of life now, a standard part of our day-to-day working lives where it is no longer just software development, it’s business, advertising, legal, HR, communications and more.

Ireland leads the global ranking for the highest number of female leaders in top companies. Research from Heidrick & Struggles in 2021 found that Ireland’s top Iseq companies have the highest percentage of female CEOs among stock indices globally at 14 per cent – more than the UK, Australia, the US and Canada.

What’s noticeable about many of the roles is that those women in leadership positions don’t just have backgrounds in business; they cover a wide area of disciplines and experiences, which gives organisations new perspectives on how they operate.

“We’re coming at the business from different angles,” added Cullen, referring to both her and O’Donovan’s backgrounds in HR and sales as helping them with their approach.

While hitting that kind of standard is important, the success of Enterprise Solutions didn’t just happen. What had started with helping clients with in-house data centres has transformed into offering managed services in remote working – offering products and a layer of support thanks to a focused and dedicated team.

Backing it up is its Citrix Platinum Partnership, a relationship it has had since the beginning, and it’s also a Microsoft Gold Partner. It offers a full stack of services to complement any work set-up.

This focus and attention to detail have won it many clients, like John Paul Construction, RSA and William Fry, and helped it develop a strong reputation.

Even when the pandemic hit, the company’s core offering was so well versed that its clients experienced no hassle making an instant switch from office to remote.

“Because of the industry we’re in, when the pandemic happened customers were able to pick up their laptops and walk out the door,” said Cullen. “[In general] the key is finding out the business problems. It’s about establishing what those problems are and creating the solutions.

“As we’re experts in technology, we enable solutions – and that’s our differentiator.”

Strong culture

O’Donovan added that the team always engages directly with clients and keeps things in-house — contractors are never relied on – which gives their work a personal touch. That allows consistency for the client and an ability to tackle problems efficiently and concisely.

All of this wouldn’t happen without a strong culture, and building it up is one of many things Cullen is proud of creating over the years.

Ensuring that camaraderie and support operate outside the perimeters of a job was key, and she made it her mission long before it became a talking point in the corporate world.

At the base level, this meant drilling down into the company’s core values, the standards they hold to, and ensuring there’s room for growth and communication.

Knowing that there will be no blame game and that you have the space to recover and be helped leaves a lot of breathing space for employees, creating a more cohesive experience. Similarly, small rituals were formed over the years that, when added up, develop a culture greater than the sum of its parts.

For one, every morning has two huddle sessions for everyone to join in, a practice that was kept up during the pandemic and ensured communication remained high.

Others like Tasty Thursday and Good News Friday are small additions to a company, but when it all comes together and is championed by those high up like Cullen, they make a difference.

“They make for a group that stays together so that even when people move on, they stay in touch,” said Cullen, with O’Donovan adding: “And if something goes wrong, nobody is looking for blame, they’re looking to help resolve it, and that really stands to our team.”

With the company recently celebrating its 25th birthday, it is a time of reflection and looking at where the company is going. Cullen mentions there’s an overwhelming sense of achievement when looking back –and at times, it was (and is) like a rollercoaster. Like all companies it faced challenges and setbacks, but also it made the most of the opportunities afforded and further refined its offerings.

“What we’re striving to achieve is proactively optimising our managed service offerings,” Cullen said. “We want to grow our customer base, our offering, in line with what is strategically suitable and grow our team steadily.”

“The old mantra of being a trusted adviser is something we want to be at every stage of the journey for clients,” added O’Donovan.

Enterprise Solutions acts as an extension of the client’s technical team. “It really is a testament to both our people and the team that we can do that.”

For details visit: www.enterprise-solutions.ie