The Modest Mentor
Greig McKenzie talks about his career journey at Network ROI, his personal career evolution to becoming a Training and Development Manager, the transformative power of learning, and how employee ownership changes the workplace culture for the better.
“Training isn’t about just transmitting information; it’s about transforming learners’ careers”.
Greig grew up as a logical thinker with a fascination for computers (Sinclair ZX80 and Commodore 64 to name but a few). Greig was even programming from an early age and as an analytical thinker, his guidance teacher recommended to him that he should build a career in the burgeoning tech industry. So Greig went on to study Systems Analysis and Design. That was what first drew him to work in technology.
Greig started at Network ROI as a level 3 engineer 8 years ago, but his views on what makes a great workplace culture started way before that. He learned from two wise business owners, Colin and Mick, that mentoring was about more than just offering guidance, but someone who can give you daily the confidence you need to progress in your career path.
Working in what was then a smaller Network ROI, his role soon evolved and he became the go-to person for other engineers, moving from being a Level 3 Engineer, through “Service Desk Mentor” to the “Training and Development Manager” he is today.
There is no typical week for Greig, but he relishes the varied challenges, from delving into training, HR policies and onboarding new employees to overseeing the Quality Management certification. But he still enjoys helping engineers with technical issues and has even become a shoulder to cry on for some if engineers have had a tough day.
Greig explains more about the approach he takes “It’s a bit like seeing a learner driver on the road, you have two choices, you can be very impatient and honk your horn, or you can ease off the accelerator and think ‘I was a learner once, show a bit of patience’”. Greig prefers the latter more tolerant and understanding approach.
Greig talks about expectation setting and how it’s a two-way street. “In the beginning, I try to connect with people to identify what they are good at and how to do it even better. I strongly believe in this collaborative approach to the personal development of people and I love helping people start on the road to fulfilling their potential. It’s about developing a pathway for success within Network ROI, finding one area they can become an expert in, and building on that. To me, it’s a privilege to be one of the first people to meet and get to know a new employee. We have a strong focus on life-long learning, being an employee-owned organisation, so onboarding never really ends; rather, it morphs into employee engagement and retention.”
Network ROI’s approach to training
Greig describes Network ROI’s approach to training and development from a comment made by Sean Elliot, the Chairman and founder of Network ROI who said “We might be an IT company, but
we are in the relationships business”. Greig went on to explain that what Sean meant by that was that it’s not worth burning a client relationship over a short-term profit if by doing so you lose that customers hard-earned trust. So, when Grieg trains employees he talks about our values-based culture and the importance of building trust with clients.
In a practical sense when Greig is training new staff on Network ROI values, he feels the soft skills matter as much as the technical qualifications. “I tell engineers to always do what they say they will, and how important it is to own a problem.”. When talking about how to treat customers Greig explains the importance of being down to earth, yet professional, when engaging with customers “we should talk to people like real people, that can mean dropping the Sir or Madam as that can be a barrier to deeper interaction”.
Greig went on to talk about the Network ROI culture and how it differs from other companies “As an employee-owned company and as a more flexible organisation, I like to think that when we hire someone we look at the whole person and what they have to offer, rather than pigeonholing them. I like to think staff feel they can approach the board and senior management, we have a relatively flat hierarchy, so senior management is on hand to listen to the entire workforce.”
Greig talked about what he sees as one of the most important aspects of the company’s culture “At Network ROI we don’t have a blame culture, issues that come up are a learning exercise, a springboard for improvement, we can all learn from our mistakes. We have a value-driven one team approach to our culture, and our staff are empowered through Employee Ownership.”
Greig spoke about continuous learning and lifelong education at Network ROI “We are focused on continual process improvement right across our business through aligning ourselves to best practice in ISO management system standards in Quality Management, Information Security Management and Service Management. As our business is constantly evolving and improving, so must we. Lifelong education is important to Network ROI, so when someone wants to pursue a course of study, we do our best to satisfy that wish. This will sometimes involve training someone not for the role they currently occupy, but for the role they are aiming for. One of the joys of working in a smaller organisation is the ability to evolve your role over time – I believe I’m testament to that!”
Last March, Network ROI’s employees shifted from working in offices to working from home (WFH) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional, classroom-based training at Network ROI stopped — yet our business operations clearly had to continue.
Network ROI evoked its well-rehearsed business continuity plan, so it was relatively straightforward for the workforce to move to fully remote working during the lockdown. But when days, became weeks it was important that we all stayed in touch said Greig, “For me personally it was a big help to have remote staff meetings and interact with my colleagues. I missed the banter and it was a good feeling when people approached me during and after lockdown”.
What are your passions when away from work?
Like many who work in IT Greig has a big interest in gaming as he explains “I am a gamer, I am never happier than sitting in my den surrounded by glowing electronics. When I am not gaming or hanging out with the family, I am a huge movie fan and love Japanese gore films.” “I came to family life quite late on and it’s changed my life, my wife and two step kids mean everything to me”.
Greig was asked if there is something that not many of his colleagues know about him and went on to describe one of his passions “when the clocks go back in October, I love to look up at the night sky. Still, dark nights are a great relaxation, especially if I get the chance to go to an area of the country where there are true dark skies and little light pollution, you see so much more and I am in my element as there is so much to discover!”
At Network ROI we have a shared purpose. We are not just employees, we are employee-owners. With a strong culture and an emphasis on training, we believe our people are our greatest asset. We look after our people, so they’re ready to look after your people. Working with Network ROI, you have a UK-wide team of technology experts available to help with strategy, give you feedback on your plans, and guide your business growth. You’re getting more than an “IT person”—you’re getting a strategy team.