A man of strong principles

UCcert's Managing Director Darren O'Connor is as open and honest as he is fiercely competitive and pragmatic, which along with his customer-first approach is the guarantor of long-term success.

O'Connor first got to grips with the fundamentals of networking during a five year stint in the Royal Signals. Soon after leaving the military he became a Cisco accredited engineer and set off on a path that would lead him to establish Calne-based UCcert in 2008. Prior to the company beginning its commercial life O'Connor had left full-time employment to become a contractor, picking up his own client base along the way. Most notably, O'Connor's first customer was Balfour Beatty, which, unsurprisingly, he rates as a major win, deploying an IP telephony solution and LAN across its key UK sites. "Things have grown leaps and bounds following my first customer," he said. "I haven't looked back since."

O'Connor sticks to what he knows and nailed his flag to Cisco, firstly as a registered partner then moving on to Select. UCcert serves customers in a range of sectors including education, public sector, gaming, financial, construction, retail and manufacturing. "We deliver converged network solutions to businesses but this year we'll be focusing solely on our hosted propositions," he explained. "On-premise still has its place in the market but our clients are seeing the advantages of moving to the cloud. I've closely followed the tech trends from IP telephony to collaboration to virtualisation and now into hosted, it's a constant journey. Cloud networking is an ever changing landscape. On a daily basis new ideas and new ways of working come about and if you don't keep up you are left behind, so I am always researching and looking into what's coming next and how I can advise my clients."

This strategic thought process led to the formation of another important partnership, this time with Channel Telecom. "This came about two years ago," recalled O'Connor. "I was looking for a channel partner that could supply a hosted telephony solution plus data connectivity and Channel Telecom ticked the right boxes. There are many partners on the scene that claim to do the same, but for me it was also about the people."

UCcert capped last year with an award scoop that reflects its ambitions. The company picked up Channel Telecom's ‘Fastest Growing Partner of the Year Award', and O'Connor attributed this success in large part to his laser focus on giving customers what they want. "My priority is always my clients," he added. "It's vitally important to ensure that a client is happy and feels that they got what they asked for, so I listen to them and make sure that I develop my offerings to ensure I deliver what they expect and need. For example, we're seeing a big shift to the cloud so we will be focusing on our hosted propositions for the foreseeable future. I strongly believe in not diversifying too much otherwise you risk becoming a jack of all trades. We're proficient in networking and telephony so we'll always lead with these."

Although located in the south west of England UCcert works all over the UK and Europe, and its growth has delivered a dilemma that O'Connor hasn't yet fully resolved. "I'm getting to a point in the business now when I have to hand off some of the work to other people I trust and that I know will do a good job," he added. "However, it's still hard to let go. I need to work on relinquishing control and trusting that others can deliver on my promises. I built UCcert from scratch so I'm conscious of the way that I expect this business to perform, that means every single aspect of it."

As a man of impeccable principles and standards, O'Connor's promise to his customers and family is to ‘do the best that I can in the most open and honest way'. "What more can anyone ask of me?", he added. "I'm a family man, so running my own business also gives me the drive to better myself and grow the company."