After spending 5 years as President of Global Markets, Gareth Williams took over the role of CEO of Interoute in August 2007 and became the leader of a company that was undergoing a period of significant change. Starting with a restructure and relaunch in 2002–03, Interoute would evolve from zero-revenue to an operation with a revenue of over €700 million last financial year.
Today, Interoute is the owner and operator of one of the largest communications networks in Europe. It is also a global cloud services platform, providing unified connectivity, computing, and communications products to a range of clients, including start-ups, multinational enterprises, universities, and major European telecommunications service providers. The latest win for Interoute was the September 2015 acquisition of Easynet, a managed services provider.
Witnessing the growth of Interoute over the course of his tenure has been a long and exciting path for Gareth.
“We took what was, in the beginning, a big empty asset, and built it up into the meaningful and successful business we run today,” he says.
It’s an achievement he attributes in part to leadership style, as well as having the right team where every member is both committed and trusted.
“I think management is about leadership,” he says. “There are a few things that don’t change, and number one is knowledge. If you don’t know what you are going to do, then there is no point being in charge. Number two is you have to be prepared to get your hands dirty. The fundamental thing for me has been the concept that there isn’t a problem that I am not prepared to help with. If there was, then I’d be in the wrong role. And the last thing is trust; you have to employ people you trust and who will build the best business in a disciplined fashion. You have to trust your managers to make decisions, and you have to back them by rectifying any bad ones.”
Making the right decisions, for Gareth, involves both innovation and offering Interoute’s customers ‘more for less’. Right from the restructure of Interoute, the company has had a constant process of analysing the benefits of working with its existing suppliers and contrasting them to what’s best in the market at that time. Applied to one part of the company—in this case Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM)—Interoute has worked closely with key fibre suppliers, namely Ciena, Alcatel and Infinera. This has allowed Interoute to maintain its prominent position in the communication supply arena of Europe, as well as offering the best possible solution to customers.