We Return to our Roots, 17 years on

News and information from the Advent IM team.

  • by Olivia Lawlor-Blackburn
  • General

We have gone full circle and after 17 years, have returned to the place where it all started.

In 2004, we moved into our first office space at Cradley Enterprise Centre and in less than twenty years, have gone from one information security man with a laptop, to a respected cyber security consultancy with a turnover of £3.5m, employing 19 people.

Eighteen months ago though, things were looking very challenging for us. Working from our salubrious, purpose-built offices in Halesowen, our clients were feeling the effects of Brexit which was affecting spending and our position was uncertain for the future. As if this wasn’t enough to try and navigate a business through, we then found ourselves in the throes of a global pandemic and uncertainty was ubiquitous. So how have we managed to achieve growth with the world in crisis and a large office space with high expenses hanging around our necks?

First and foremost, we had to adapt by finding new ways to engage with our clients, to fulfil the high expectations and quality of service we are known for and committed to providing. But this was easier said than done at the start with restrictions on movement. Working from home was the only way to continue and the Government encouraged those who could continue to work, to do so in this way.  But this too came with challenges; office-based staff were unprepared for these new changes and needed to adapt quickly. Our consultancy team was heavily impacted by the pandemic; a team that was accustomed to delivering consultancy and training onsite for clients now had to deal with remote delivery and a range of platforms to ensure key security and data protection projects did not flounder and fail. For many years, our large HQ had hosted our highly successful training courses and our clients would travel from all over the country to undertake classroom-based training with our expert trainers. This had to pause as we transformed our training into an online offering delivered by those same experts in the Advent IM Virtual Classroom.

Internally too, embracing remote working and digital communication and delivery platforms was even more change to deal with. Whilst initially it was a huge departure from how we all worked together, collaboration has grown and has brought great benefits to our teams. Those who were always remote workers are now more ‘in touch’ with office-based colleagues and vice versa. This has led to more efficiency and communication between colleagues who rarely saw each other before.

A break clause in our lease for our HQ provided the perfect opportunity to secure the future of the Advent IM team for years to come. We made the decision to leave our large offices and training centre and fully embrace the change to hybrid working that had arrived so unexpectedly. The downsizing of our office has been integral to the extraordinary success we are now encountering. Freeing up money that was spent on an office and training centre that was now unusable due to restrictions has meant we have been able to expand and grow quicker than we had imagined possible during such uncertainty. Fewer overheads have meant we can reinvest into the business; ensuring our staff are comfortable and set up for working at home and also to expand our team, with the recruitment of not one, but FIVE new full-time employees.

The new normal of working from home has allowed us to look beyond geographical restraints when recruiting new staff and has meant we have truly been able to pick the best candidate with great talent to join the team at Advent IM, regardless of their location in the UK. Over a year ago, it would have been a requirement for Sales and Marketing team members to be office based. The flexibility we have now allows us to truly ensure all colleagues are the best fit. A really great situation for the business and for employees.

Advent IM has always been a family-style company, where we appreciate the importance of regular contact, a space to work collaboratively in and the tools to do that. Although this can be achieved via Teams and Zoom, we recognised the requirement to have a physical place where we can still do this. A place to share ideas, get support or just get around a table together to brainstorm.  The stars aligned and as the break clause in our lease arrived so did the opportunity to downsize and return to our roots in Cradley Enterprise Centre.

The Centre was the birthplace of Advent IM, 17 years ago. For it was there the founders and directors, Mike Gillespie and Julia McCarron moved the fledgling company when the need for a more formal environment than a back bedroom beckoned and the team started to expand. Cradley Enterprise Centre offered the perfect, flexible solution.  It is a great starting place for young and start-up businesses. The Centre only work on monthly licenses, so there are no long term commitments and it is home to a number of small businesses and entrepreneurs who can move up or down in size to suit their business demands.

Since adopting the hybrid working approach and moving back ‘home’, the Advent IM team, at varying stages, have all benefited from a more balanced work and home. By taking advantage of the unexpected circumstances in 2020, our team are happier with their new flexible way of working which allows them to prioritise family and wellbeing, while Advent IM benefits from employees working in a way that suits them leading to increased productivity and motivation. As Managing Director, Mike Gillespie explains, “Advent IM was well placed at the start of the first lockdown because agile and flexible working has long been part of our culture albeit not across the whole team. Our core values state that, “It’s results that matter, more than where you work or when you work”. Relocating to Cradley Enterprise Centre has enabled us to significantly reduce our property costs, releasing money that is already ringfenced for further company growth as we embark on another round of recruitment this Autumn, creating jobs in and around the West Midlands and beyond”.

Connor McBean, started with Advent IM in June 2021 during the period of expansion at Advent and said ‘It is great that there is a place for us to go when we need time with the team. As a new starter, I really needed that face-to-face contact with the Marketing team so I felt comfortable while settling into Advent. You really can’t get to know people unless you are in person with them”.

And so, Advent IM has returned to its roots. In recognising the need to balance remote working with providing a safe and comfortable place for teams to be able to meet should they choose, have private space away from home for confidential client calls and just be a place we could come together again, we have taken up residence in a new, smaller suite of offices. And that’s not all…

On September 10th, MP James Morris for Halesowen and Rowley Regis, visited the Cradley Enterprise Centre, to officially open the new Advent IM office. We were pleased to be able to get the good biscuits out and celebrate our move with James, who has been a friend of Advent IM for several years.

Cradley Enterprise Centre 09/21
Copyright – Richard Southall

Where will Advent IM be in 5 years’ time, you ask? The unexpected events forced us to work in new ways but those ways have seen us grow financially and in numbers, and develop skills and mindsets that have set us up to build a bigger and better Advent IM over the next few years. Where will we be? Watch this space!

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