It was the Worst of Times, it was the Best of Times

“It was the worst of times, it was the best of times”

Yes, I know that’s the wrong way around but, remarkably, given the unprecedented circumstances since March 2020, I was part of TWO enterprise sales in the last month.  

Singlepoint, most easily described as Cloud technology architects for business, finally concluded their sale to Version 1, the pre-eminent Irish IT Services enterprise.  This is a great win for Version 1, and their Private Equity backers.  With Singlepoint’s consultancy pedigree, and their digital transformation track record, Version 1 are better placed to meet increasingly non-proprietary tech expectations from their clients, and scale their market ambitions accordingly.


Also,, one of Ireland’s showcase Artificial Intelligence and Data Science companies, and developer of ‘Talent Matching’ Recruitment solutions, were bought by iCIMS, a huge HR Cloud Tech leader from the U.S.  iCIMS, a constituent of the voracious Vista Equity Partners ‘Flagship’ portfolio, have already announced their new AI-powered product, Talent Logic, on the back of the acquisition, and they plan to use the team’s capability as a launchpad for further growth – ‘acqui-hire’ in real form, but with immediate commercial and competitive advantage.  Great result.


So, what’s the common denominator, you may ask?  Me – I was non-executive Board Director for both companies – and had worked with each over a number of years, before and after my formal appointment.  Now two former Beyonder clients…


What did I / Beyonder do, or maybe even what didn’t I do?  At the fear of risking my Chartered Director accreditation, I didn’t stand back and wait to be asked to advise, I got ‘stuck in’.  I learnt about the people, their skills, their likes and dislikes, their ‘weaker strengths’; I tried to understand how each company functioned, not just the documented procedures, focussed on the exceptions to appreciate the norms; I looked at the markets they were targeting, their competition, their perceived and real advantages, their sales and marketing smarts, their formal and informal networks; and, most of all, I listened to what they said and what was being said about them, internally and externally,  and I adapted my recommended actions around the gap-filling that I thought should be prioritised…


But, at the core of it all, I always tried to be the ‘objective perspective’ – what would somebody else say… not necessarily always the contrarian, but definitely the devil’s advocate, the challenging opinion, the ‘explain that to me again’ pain in the butt, or, alternatively, the optimistic back-slapper who restores morale or promotes the latest pipedream… Always a Team member, but not necessarily always on the pitch. 

And that is the essence of the Beyonder proposition.  Membership of the team is an essential part of being able to advise and stimulate practical, strategic change.  That’s not just to fulfil the role of Board Director, provoking, guiding, encouraging, assuring corporate governance and management discipline, but also because you need Board Effectiveness – you need to know that the rest of the team, the executive (in SME’s, most probably the key shareholders) buy into its execution and consequences.  

Like any good old-fashioned Systems Analyst, knowing the ‘as-is’ model is fundamental to the design of ‘to-be’ improvement – but sharing a vision is only the first step to bringing the team with you (ah, Jack Welch RIP!).  Being committed to that transition as part of that team is what really makes the difference.


For both Singlepoint and Opening, the planning, the goal-setting, the execution, the continuous change management, the absolute conviction that we could do this… all became embedded and natural Cultural values that empowered everyone to focus on enterprise value growth – developing our inherent distinctiveness to the market, and the market’s awareness of that impact… 


… and, guess what, a sale happened – Twice!  


OK, a bit flippant, but you get what I’m saying – both companies invested in long-term planning, and I would like to think of my role, the Beyonder service, as a new spark-plug in that engineering, that encouraged alignment between short-term and longer-term, making sure that commercial performance was always balanced with other market-respected ’best practice’ components, and always with a view to improving the perceived value of the company – in the eyes of any beholder.  


To reference 2 widely-leveraged sports clichés – ‘Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail’ (you know who – I’ll never forgive him…)… but possibly the more immediately apt – ‘the more I practice, the luckier I get’ (Gary Player) or – sorry Gary – to paraphrase for my purpose – ‘the more we plan for value, the more valuable we become’…