Meet the UKFast Directors
Who's at the helm of UKFast? Meet our board of directors, a group of experienced professionals who have lived the UKFast experience and are now leading the the way with the future of the business.
Lawrence Jones is the co-founder and CEO of UKFast. He has a hands-on approach and is responsible for inspiring and steering his senior managers with creative leadership and passion.
Lawrence brings 25 years of business acumen to his leadership of UKFast, having successfully founded arts and corporate hospitality businesses in the 1990's. Lawrence first saw a gap in the UK hosting sector in 1999 and created UKFast.
Thanks to his vision, UKFast has grown year on year, every year. With his focus on helping clients to grow, UKFast has featured twice in the Deloitte Technology Fast50 and three times in the Sunday Times TechTrack 100.
Lawrence was named Technology Entrepreneur of the Year by EN and in 2007 as the Institute of Director's Young Director of the Year for Manchester. In 2012, Lawrence became Ernst & Youngs Technology Entrepreneur for the UK in the North. This follows his success in 2011, as the EN North West Entrepreneur of the Year.
Amongst Lawrence's proudest achievements is UKFast's recognition by The Great Place to Work Institute as the UK's Most Fun and Friendly Workplace. Lawrence also was awarded an MBE in the 2015 New Year's Honours List for Services to the Digital Economy.
Find out more about Lawrence Jones at his blog, www.lawrencejones.eu
Gail is the co-founder of UKFast. Her role places emphasis on delivering a quality product and service at the best possible price.
Managing UKFast's relationships with suppliers and constantly assessing our best practice, she allows the network to develop ahead of our client base to ensure successful growth. She takes director level responsibility for the remit of the UKFast research & development team which creates software that streamlines internal processes and gives clients added functionality for their solutions.
Gail has been instrumental in the business since its inception and has taken on a variety of roles, including administrator, finance manager and support manager as the business has grown. Prior to starting UKFast with husband Lawrence, Gail attended and graduated from Newcastle University's prestigious Sciences Faculty.
Jonathan became Managing Director of UKFast in April 2012, when Lawrence Jones took the role of CEO. Responsible for the day-to-day running of the business, he works with the directorship and senior management team, focusing on clients and the team and is heavily involved in training, recruitment and corporate relations.
Their extensive overview of commerce on the internet has led to a successful series of round table events and presentations for businesses. In an industry full of jargon their job to clearly explain and translate complex technical information with a human touch.
Prior to UKFast, Jonathan spent two years as a broadcast journalist with Independent UK radio and the BBC, followed by two and a half years developing writers on all disciplines for the BBC's New Writing department.
As IT director at UKFast, Neil is in charge of delivering all hosting solutions to clients. In this respect he runs the technical core of UKFast's business. Neil manages the construction of servers, data centre deployment and all complimentary software creation and implementation. His leadership ensures that our clients and the solutions that we manage on their behalf are supported to our award-winning standards 24x7x365.
Furthermore, it is part of Neil's responsibilities to maintain UKFast at the cutting edge of our industry. His strategy allows the company to continue growing in regards to our technical abilities and stay ahead of the competition in regards to new technology, services and products.
Neil joined UKFast in 2000, making him one of UKFast's early visionaries. He has 15 years experience in the IT sector, 12 of those for hosting companies, which has made him an expert in many fields of IT, including Cisco Networks, Linux and Windows hosting.
Helping UKFast to attain its industry leading position is Neil's proudest achievement and he believes that technology is nothing without a support team that ensures its success.
Research and Development Director
Before joining us as a developer twelve years ago, Darren completed a degree in Computer Science. In early university years programming was not a favourite subject; however, he was inspired by an industry placement, and explains that something just clicked during that experience when he saw how it could be used creatively to make a difference. Developing systems is now one of Darren's biggest passions and something for which he is well respected here at UKFast.
Darren remembers the beginning of his career with us well, having been interviewed by our very own IT director Neil and offered the job the very same day. His first role was to develop an internal system to help streamline the sales process, organising people, orders and stock.
Nowadays, Darren leads our RnD team and is proud that during the past twelve years, the initial systems he created have been expanded to support every team within the company. The RnD team is integral to what we do as a business and strives to improve things in order to make people's lives easier, whether that's employees or clients. By developing systems that give users more control, and removing tedious processes, the RnD team helps everyone to focus on the important task of delivering a better service.
Mergers and Acquisitions Director
Catherine, a qualified Chartered Accountant, joined UKFast in the summer of 2013 as Mergers and Acquisitions Director and is now working with the rest of the management team to help drive value in the business above and beyond its already strong organic growth.
Catherine's expertise in corporate finance is extensive. She spent seven years at PwC as a director in their M&A team, advising management teams and private equity houses on management buyouts before moving into an investment director role with LDC - the UK's leading private equity house and part of Lloyds Bank.
In 2012, Catherine joined LDC portfolio company kidsunlimited, the UK's fourth largest childcare provider in the UK, full time as Commercial Director and shareholder, where she drove the £45m exit to US public company Bright Horizons.
Catherine recently led the £40m fund raising from RBS to create a war chest for future UKFast acquisitions and is on the board of related companies Farinet and Secarma.
Account Management Director
Account management director Charlotte is a great example of the steep learning curve you can scale when you believe in your ability to achieve. In just five years, she has taken on countless challenges and embraced them with positivity and quiet confidence.
Charlotte completed a degree in History and during her time at university, she worked at a local shop that sold fireplaces, which she found more engaging than her studies! Enjoying the buzz she got from giving people advice that helped them decide what to buy, Charlotte decided that a commercial career was the direction she wanted to take.
So, after graduating from university, she scraped together the last bits of her student loan and bought some smart clothes for her one and only interview with a hosting company called UKFast!
Charlotte started out in the sales team before moving into the account management department, eighteen months later. Shortly after this, in the summer of 2012, Lawrence acted on her ambitious nature and outstanding results and promoted her to director of account management. As of January this year she was given even more responsibilities joining the board as a fully-fledged director, ensuring that our clients receive the best customer service possible from both account management and support teams.
Head of Legal and Company Secretary
Nicola was attracted by the dynamic nature of UKFast, alongside its dedication to its core values. Having spent her entire career in law firms, it was a real change to move to an in-house role. But hearing Lawrence's vision for the future of UKFast made it a very easy step, and she hasn’t looked back since.
Nicola became Company Secretary shortly after entering the UKFast folds, and she has rapidly become an indispensable figure at UKFast, providing expert legal and administrational knowledge as the business continues to grow.
Nicola was promoted to partner at age 32 at national law firm Cobbetts. When in practice, she was ranked in Chambers and Partners 2015 as a leading individual in the Manchester area, and held a coveted place in the Legal 500 in 2014.
In addition to her role as Head of Legal, Nicola is involved in UKFast’s mentor programme; she relishes the opportunity to work with our superstars as they develop, and is delighted to share her experiences as a successful woman in business.
Before UKFast, Elizabeth worked as a journalist for 10 years, progressing in print journalism across a number of titles before specialising as a business journalist for EN, the Magazine for Entrepreneurs. She interviewed industry heavyweights including Sir Rocco Forte, Harvey Nichols’ Joseph Wan, Charlie Mullins, Steve Purdham, Jennie Johnson and Tim Bacon and developed a strong contacts book of key figures in the North West business community.
Elizabeth experienced the limitations and constraints that existed in the journalism industry at a time when publishing houses were just starting the transition to taking their services online. She recognised the opportunities that existed with firms in the digital industry with their eye on the future; in that respect, UKFast was leading the way.
Joining as features writer, Elizabeth worked on copy for general business and specialist tech titles, reporting on UKFast’s round table debates and putting journalists in touch with UKFast’s experts. She moved into the role of PR Manager within a year, progressed to Director of Communications in 2012, and joined the board in early 2016.
UKFast constantly innovates and invests in its team and the region; this, alongside its reputation for doing things differently has allowed the Comms and Marketing teams at UKFast to thrive.
UKFast’s involvement in the education sector and community projects like Harvey’s Den and Mission Christmas make Elizabeth most proud. When UKFast gets behind something, incredible things happen. She sees UKFast as a force to be reckoned with.
William’s commercial drive and passion for progress led him to UKFast in 2012; he vetoed the prospect of university and its lingering debts, preferring instead to get down to business straight away.
Starting on the Lead Generation team, he made the biggest profit for a first year UKFast team member to date.
His impressive performance and dedicated work ethic saw him move into the Sales team, and a management position followed shortly after. In 2014, William stood out once again, achieving the highest revenue across the business for the year. His consistent achievements and contributions to the UKFast family meant that his progression to Sales Director in late 2015 was entirely natural.
William’s successes have continued without fail throughout his career at UKFast. He is dedicated to maintaining the business’ forward-thinking commercial operations and brings innovation to all aspects of his department, from internal systems and pricing strategy to product development and launches. A key spokesperson for UKFast, William is passionate about driving the company’s growth and is intrinsic to its commercial success.
Joe is responsible for ensuring that UKFast is financially functional and compliant as well as financial reporting and controls, budgets and forecasting, and ensuring regulatory requirements of statutory bodies are met.
After leaving sixth form where he studied Business, Economics and Law, Joe decided against university and instead started an apprenticeship at an accountancy practice for 3 years where he got his first experience in the world of finance and studied for his AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) qualification.
Joe joined UKFast as the Accounts Assistant in 2008 and in 2010 started studying for a CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) qualification. UKFast helped Joe to complete his CIMA studies and he qualified as a Chartered Management Accountant within 3 years. In 2012 he was promoted to Finance Director, the position he holds today.
In today's rapidly changing business world, getting the right people on the bus and holding on to them, rank as the top challenges entrepreneurs and managers face.
Are Core Values Hype or Necessity?
Whether you are a seasoned entrepreneur, or one that is just starting out, I believe your business needs an identity. You need Core Values. Now you can copy these from other businesses, but a word of warning. It won't work.