Interview: Mark Gibson, Capito
In a year of change probably like no other in recent times there can be few white collar workers unfamiliar with the shift to home working and virtual communication.
Mark Gibson can claim to have been ahead of the game, spotting the trend last summer before hardly anyone outside the tech bubble had heard of Teams and Zoom.
Both are now the common language of those who, until the onset of the great pandemic, spent a large part of their working life sitting in meetings and conferences, and contacting colleagues and clients via email.
Gibson is an IT veteran who, as managing director of Capito, was an early adopter of virtually communicating and set about bringing his staff up to speed.
“I sheep-dipped everyone in Teams and Zoom last summer,” he says, using another of those phrases that transition easily from one application to another.
This act of dipping the staff in the new means of communication prepared Livingston-based Capito for the onset of Covid which, says Gibson, “set us back a bit”, but helped him to focus on the company’s strengths and how to be more mobile and flexible.
The new era of home working, he says, has given the whole concept of flexible working a much-needed seal of approval.
“Pre-Covid it was seen as a bit whimsical,” he says. “I suppose there was a lack of trust. But it is now part of the agenda, particularly among the younger generation who take it for granted.”
‘The move to the cloud has been under way for years – the pandemic has accelerated the process’
This move towards home or remote working has played into Capito’s strengths as it focused on helping its public sector clients ensure their employees could operate efficiently and safely away from their office.
It has meant his employees adapting their own skills to work with clients whose staff are no longer based together in one office location. It has also encouraged firms to review their IT operations and capabilities; what they need and how they use it, with a scattered workforce creating particular demands.
“The move to the cloud has been under way for years – the pandemic has accelerated the process,” he says.
His clients are largely in the education, health and third sectors and the firm has just added Skills Development Scotland to its roster, winning a three-year contract from an incumbent supplier. Gibson puts Capito’s success down to offering innovative solutions, rather than being the cheapest option.
“It’s a sizeable contract – worth about £1m over three years – and a great plaudit for us,” he says.
His journey to Livingston began with a role in data modelling after university and a tour of companies mainly in and around London before he met a woman from Glasgow who was to become his wife and he took time out to study for an MBA at Strathclyde.
His first experience of West Lothian was with intelligence management firm Memex – “I spent five years on a plane” – and later with the content filtering company Bloxx.
Gibson took over at Capito at the beginning of last year, having been introduced by its principal investor Murray Capital and says he set about building on “capabilities that had been hidden away”. He put everyone on a sales and marketing footing and made sure its partners “know what we can do”.
Capito reported a record profit on £5 million of revenue and, given its “key role” in helping to keep the IT wheels grinding, it is having a good year.
It has 50 direct employees, 10 up on last year having made a significant investment in sales and marketing.
“We are remaining focused,” says Gibson. “I think is a big part of our success.”
Occupation: Managing director, Capito IT
Birthplace: Middlesbrough, raised in Market Harborough, Leicestershire
Education: Bradford University, Strathclyde University (MBA)
Career highlights: got a taste for data modelling at a consultancy in High Wycombe whose clients included Cadbury’s Bournville – “I felt like Charlie in the chocolate factory”; later worked in London Docklands and one customer was a small firm called eBay which had an office above a shop in Chiswick High Street; moved to Scotland and worked around firms including Memex and Bloxx.
Do you have a working motto or mantra?
Don’t wait for perfection
Second is the first loser
What frustrates you?
Failure to make a decision
I turned down a job with Google in Europe. At the time no one had heard of them. The guy who got it did very well.
Any guilty pleasures?
My current one is motorcycles. I just sold a Harley Davidson and bought a Ducati.
I like survival courses and spent a week on a Scottish island making knives and long bows.
Also spent a few years coaching a junior rugby team. I may do it again one day. I seem to have more patience with kids.
If you could invite three people, past or present, to a dinner party who would you choose?
Charles Dickens to learn about his thoughts on society
Malcolm Gladwell, a Canadian journalist, staff writer for The New Yorker, and public speaker
Paul Cuatrecasas, investment banker and author of Go Tech or Go Extinct