Roger Pearson has to keep up to speed with the latest in IT for his job – but when it comes to commuting to work, a low-tech pushbike is his preferred mode of transport.
The joint managing director of Lockwood-based IT services firm P2 Technologies, who lives at Upper Cumberworth, says: “I commute on the bike two or three times a week – to help save the planet and ease congestion in the Holme Valley!
“I don’t like to waste a minute. The 25 minutes I spend sitting in a car driving from Upper Cumberworth to Lockwood is a waste of 25 minutes in my book. If I go by bike, I have a clear head, I’m getting fresh air and exercise and I’m all fired up and ready to go.
“On the way home, I can think about any little issues from work – which means I don’t even notice that steep climb up Sude Hill to the Sovereign!
“I also cycle with a couple of pals from Holmfirth. Last year, we did almost 200 miles to Cleethorpes and back in 14 hours.”
Roger set up P2 Technologies with fellow joint managing director Martin Page eight years ago after more than 25 years combined experience in IT.
They had both worked for a Liversedge-based company providing IT services to firms in the legal profession. Roger was installations manager handling a variety of projects and was the man in charge when the company won its first £1m contract. “It involved working in Portsmouth for four months,” says Roger. “But it looks great on the CV!”
Roger and Martin teamed up when the firm was acquired by a stock market-listed company and they set up P2 Technologies in offices at Lockwood Park.
He says: “The involvement with legal firms was good grounding for what we do now, working with professional firms such as law firms and accountants, although we also work with manufacturers.” Clients include ones Roger worked with before P2’s formation. They include small companies that are nevertheless highly dependent on their IT systems.
Roger says P2’s role is to help make clients’ IT systems as efficient and effective as possible. That means keeping up with a fast-moving sector. He says: “The latest thing is Cloud computing, but it’s also a ‘cloudy’ word and covers a whole host of things.
“We are working with customers to help them find the right Cloud solution. Everyone is moving towards Cloud, but our aim is to ensure a firm with 15 computer users can get access to the same technology as one with 1,000 users.”
It seems a career in IT was always on the cards for Roger, but that wasn’t necessarily the case. He grew up in the steel town of Stocksbridge and admits: “If I had done what people told me to do I would be working in the steel mill.
“ I have some pals who work in the industry. But at the time, computers were the new thing. My family had computers at home and I got into programming. I got a degree in computer science at Sheffield University.”
That doesn’t mean Roger has no experience of other lines of work. “My first job was being a paperboy,” he says. “I had a double round and I also organised all the other deliverers. I played piano in a hotel bar for three hours on Friday and Saturday nights. I even got a tip from one guy, who must have been enjoying his stay. I also worked on a garage forecourt pumping petrol.
“I also did a Prince’s Trust course. I’d spent three years staring at a computer screen at university and I needed to do something else. We did some work at a special school; clearing land; dry stone walling, and putting up fencing at a sheltered housing complex. It was interesting doing something which was a total change of pace, meeting different people and organisations.”
Now stability is the key to success for P2. “Stability is very important to me,” says Roger. “That’s why we get on with our customers. We are a stable outfit. We’re not as super-flash as some, but we do a really good job.
“Trust is a massive factor for us. It’s not like selling a mobile phone. Our business is very much about service and relationships.
“I take time to get to know people and explain what we do. All our business comes from references, which is where you build the trust factor. You have to go out of your way and show what you are about. Trust has to be earned.”
Roger started out as a computer engineer, but now heads a 10-strong team alongside Martin – overseeing services provided to about 40 customers. P2 also works with third party suppliers who provide the firm with HR, PR and accountancy services. It means P2 can focus on what it’s good at doing, he says.
“I’m highly motivated,” says Roger. “I get up, go to work and do as much as I can during the day. My work is mapped out for months in advance. I like to have things planned as much as possible. We started in the recession – and some companies have come to us because of the recession to see how more cost-effective their systems could be.”
The IT world has changed even in that short space of time. “Ten years ago, people did most of their work on the premises,” says Roger. “Now everything is interconnected and people can work remotely as well as at the office. That means people can be more efficient and businesses can work more flexibly.”
Customer service remains vital, however. “We have a highly sociable team working for us,” says Roger. “They want to make our customers happy.”
Roger obviously provides the template – because he’s as far removed from the archetypal socially-awkward IT geek as it’s possible to imagine. “I have always been a chatty lad and maybe that helps,” he says. “I just want to get things done. The drive has always been there. I am still a technical person, but I am using my skills in a different function.
“I need to know what’s going on and put the pieces in the right places. I have learned how to manage the ‘people’ side of things. I have done bits of training here and there, but most of those ‘people’ skills come from within.
“Qualifications are important and it’s good to get that ‘mark’. But you have to mix it with experience. If you have the ‘badge’ and no experience you can be a loose cannon in the workplace.”
Apart from cycling, Roger enjoys music – playing piano and guitar. Singing is something of a family tradition, so at Christmas Roger was playing the piano while his relatives sang carols. “I like my music,” he says. “Music provides that little bit of magic in life.”
Role: Joint managing director
Family: Married to Debbie
Holidays: My ideal holiday is to go off on a bike ride and swim in a river. We go camping in the Dales, Cornwall and Devon. We put our boots on and go for a walk to the harbour or the beach
First job: I was a paperboy and also worked in my uncle’s butcher’s shop. I’ve also played piano in a hotel bar and worked on a garage forecourt
Best thing about the job? When a customer contacts us and we have done what they needed us to do. I get great satisfaction from seeing our team sort out a difficult problem
Worst thing about the job? I hate seeing things left untidy. I have to have things mapped out
Business tip: Be a good Scout. Be prepared. Things always go better if you have planned properly
Work: IT services for businesses
Site: Lockwood Park, Lockwood, Huddersfield
Phone: 01484 779020