By Simon Woodhead
Whenever I post a blog about management changes, the click through rate is astonishing which I could take the wrong way! Today’s post is what some of you may have been looking for on those past occasions! TLDR: I’m stepping down as CEO, Grahame Davies is replacing me.
Over 25 years I’ve done every job in this business, and for many of those years it seemed I did all of them alone. In recent years we have a great Board and a really strong Senior Management Team, as well as 30-odd wonderful colleagues. I believe leaders should eat last, and it has therefore been far easier to recruit to the fun rewarding jobs and keep hold of the problems. My shite to fun ratio has therefore increased exponentially, but that’s progress and it remains a privilege.
However, alongside all this I’ve had challenges in my personal life with my middle daughter’s health for the last 5+ years. I don’t tend to broadcast it but some of you may know already. The extreme medical drama is hopefully mostly behind us now but her condition remains severe. Her care is a 24×7 relay and dealing with the insane bureaucracy in the health and education systems is draining to say the least. That is perhaps more information than I would normally share but as I hope you’ll understand, she takes priority and that leaves me unable to devote as much focus to Simwood as I would have historically done.
Thankfully, amongst our amazing team Charles Chance or Grahame Davies would be eminently capable of succeeding me and taking the business to the next level. Given Charles’ amazing work (and workload) in technology, and Grahame’s past experience, not least as Group MD of Easynet managing 450 people, I have asked Grahame to succeed me as CEO.
I’ll be assuming the role of Executive Chairman and will still be very much involved. I care deeply about our staff, customers and place in the world; the company has my name over the door; and I remain the majority shareholder. This is fundamentally a shift of expectation, enabling me to lead from the back, whilst Grahame takes the helm and takes us to new bigger and better places.
This isn’t a new conversation either. When Grahame joined as COO, it was in part to rehearse the role of Managing Director. Further, in planning for Simwood Networks, we discussed my succession then, such that I could focus on our network build which would have been fun. Our favourite monopolist and beloved Regulator put pay to that however. For the Americans: I use ‘favourite’ ironically – when you care about fairness and transparency, the filth in this industry really wears you down over time! Those same succession plans are now progressing, just with a different trigger.
This isn’t goodbye, or even au revoir. I’m still going to be here! I will still be writing blogs championing fairness and transparency and upsetting wokes wherever I can, just from the slightly different perspective of working on the business rather than in it. Our fabulous team will be doing the hard work and Grahame will be cleaning up after me, so some may say there’s really no change there at all!
I’m hugely grateful to our extended team for enabling me to take this step and genuinely believe the changes are for the better for our customers, staff and the business.
Lastly, the stalkers amongst you will have already noticed the formation of a new subsidiary in the group – Simwood Futures – which I’m going to be building. It has nothing to do with telecommunications, has no regulator and no incumbent. It is blissfully clean in every sense of the word and going to be fun! In short, over the last couple of years the group has been very active amassing cryptocurrency investments and I will be managing those and developing a business around them involving renewable energy and rural diversification. It has huge similarities to where this business began. Cryptographic eh! But that’s for another day…
Thanks for all your support this far and I hope you’ll share my enthusiasm for this next chapter in Simwood’s history.