Tim Griffin

PCR’s November Big Interview With Exertis’ IT CEO Tim Griffin

This year, Exertis was crowned ‘Company of the Year’ at the PCR Awards. Here we speak with Exertis’ IT CEO, Tim Griffin to recap on some of its greatest achievements in areas such as DE&I and gaming over the past year.

Here’s what Tim Griffin had to say.

What have been the most outstanding achievements for Exertis this past year?
We’ve had a fantastic year of celebrating our people’s incredible achievements, creating new partnerships in charities, communities, customers and with vendors, made acquisitions, and made great progress with our D&I and sustainability positions.

What latest approaches to DE & I is the company currently undertaking?
We’ve been moving forward with a range of initiatives that will drive diversity and inclusion across the whole business. DEI was the theme of our annual global kick-off for the senior leadership, and around 600 of our managers have now done a training programme on inclusivity. Earlier this year we appointed Kim Lonas as Global Diversity & Inclusion Programme Lead. The creation of this new position within the company is a show of our commitment to making diversity and inclusion a core part of our corporate culture. Kim will play a key role in actively encouraging broader cultural and positive change with particular focus on how the business serves underrepresented groups and ensuring every voice is heard.

We’re seeking to take the business on a truly meaningful journey, a path of growth towards a more equitable and inclusive workplace, which all our people will travel together. We’re aware that diversity is more than gender. It’s ethnicity, disability, mental health, sexual orientation, neurodiversity and so many others. The diversity and inclusion programmes we create today will lay the foundation for the more diverse and inclusive company that we will become tomorrow.

However, diversity and inclusion must happen at all levels, our HR community, managers in all functions and at the senior leadership level. To achieve a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace, D&I has to be embedded in our culture.

We have set up Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) this year, focusing on women, people from ethnic minorities, and LGBTQIA+ communities – and the Chair for each division will drive support for, and progression within, their respective focal point.

The purpose of an ERG is to create a safe, supportive space for employees who share a common identity, where underrepresented employees support one another in building their community. The objectives of the group include providing support and a safe space for communities within Exertis; as well as to educate the whole business about each communities’ lived experiences and how to work with their members more effectively; and to increase the amount of talent from each of the three focal communities at all levels of the business.

Exertis’s ERGs have been formed to actively promote inclusivity and to ensure everybody is given a fair chance to succeed and flourish in their chosen path within Exertis – regardless of their background. The ERGs commit to champion, mentor and coach individuals from all genders, ethnic backgrounds, and sexualities, as well as celebrating major events and driving policy changes within the company. Exertis intends the ERGs to help drive forward its policies on inclusivity in line with the company’s belief that diverse and inclusive organisations are successful ones.

We also have a dedicated Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team (EDIT). The committee is focused on collating diversity information beyond age and gender, improving recruitment and induction practices through a D&I lens and driving education. EDIT was set up as a grassroots group of allies who champion inclusion across the business.

What are the latest tech trends on the gaming scene?
After we launched a new gaming zone at the flagship Hamleys store on Regent Street in Central London in May this year, we are staying ahead of the trend with our gaming business.

One of the biggest new trends is the ‘Pico 4 headset’ which is a new VR headset to compete with the Meta Quest. It is owned by the people behind TikToK so we are excited to see how that performs, and we have exclusivity on this vendor. Pico have also partnered with huge players in the gaming market to deliver not only popular IPs such as a Peaky Blinders VR game but also a fitness partnership with Lemans with known viral trainers guiding users throughout their workouts – all linked to their Pico or Apple fitness apps.

Pair all that with the fact that there will be games that can be used without controllers taking advantage of the hand tracking capabilities of Pico 4, you have an all-round strong consumer VR device for 2022-23

The way TikTok empowers users to seamlessly stream their gaming directly with either a virtual avatar representation of themselves or their true self in a virtual background is a real step forward for the gaming market.

Exertis Ztorm, our digital gaming distribution business, is seeing great growth and has just achieved its second-best ever month in revenue in all years of trading. Thanks to some good releases, Victoria 3, Gotham Knights and FM23 going to BETA access combined with the recent exclusive partnership with SEGA for 3P PC distribution, Ztorm has been able to deliver fantastic content and sales opportunities for its retail partners.

We are also proud to be a partner of the Raise the Game initiative, a collaborative and high-impact pledge to improve equality, diversity and inclusion in the games industry by creating cultures where everyone belongs, voices are heard, and ideas can thrive. The pledge is a holistic driven initiative, managed and facilitated by UKIE.

What is the company’s view on the shift to remote working and the how has this impacted customer demands?
We’re pleased to offer a range of products and solutions to support the new hybrid working world which many of our customers now find themselves in.

The biggest question being asked at the moment is “how do you ensure your workplace is fit for purpose in a hybrid environment? Is it flexible, and is it getting the most out of people? How do you ensure your meetings are collaborative and engaging?”

With our current portfolio of brands in the AV and UC division, we are well placed to support the market with solutions required to do this.

Pro AV is becoming so much more than just a dedicated area – Exertis enables customers to create technology solutions built upon our pillars of business such as enterprise, mobile, MTR, Hypertec and consumer.

We offer a whole suite of products to support the movement towards collaborative working. Barco, Logitech and Poly are the three key vendors in this space who we work with closely and offer as part of our portfolio.

How does Exertis get involved with local communities?
We were delighted to announce earlier this year that we extended our Main Club Sponsorship status of Basingstoke Town Community FC for the 2022/23 season. The agreement solidifies Exertis’ prominence on the Basingstoke Town kits, and the Exertis logo will be on both the home the away shirts, which now extends to all of the club’s growing number of teams (16) which includes over 200 players. Continuing to support local sports, and the wider community, is an opportunity which we relish. The deal between us last season was a resounding success, as 14,000 fans came to watch Basingstoke Town in their Exertis home shirt across the year. This year, thanks to a new deal between the Community Club and new technical teamwear supplier Hope + Glory sportswear, Basingstoke’s adult kits will be made from 100% recycled bottles and a tree will be planted for each one sold.

We also support local foodbanks and hospices. Exertis’ first Foodbank collection commenced during the November 2020 national lockdown, which brought in 66.48 kilograms of goods for donation at a time when many were without work. We decided to make the winter Foodbank collection a tradition, and a second edition ran in November 2021 that donated 35 kilograms of long-life food to the local trust. A third Exertis Foodbank collection will be happening this year, in November 2022.

Our people’s donation towards those in Ukraine who needed help at the start of the war could not fit on scales to take weight measurement, though it filled up three hatchback cars!

St Michael’s Hospice, near to our Basingstoke office, has various events throughout the year which we support and which our people volunteer for.

What is the company’s view towards creating a more sustainable future?
Sustainability is integral to our overall strategy to build a long term, profitable business. It’s not a standalone topic. We continue to integrate objectives and metrics, in respect of material sustainability issues and quality, into internal reporting and planning processes. Our mission to make the working environment, as well as the wider world, a better place drives our consistent commitment to the cause. We’re dedicated to making our business a sustainable operation – with newly-appointed UK Head of Sustainability and Sustainability Manager job roles, an online Sustainability Hub, and a plethora of people- and planet-focused initiatives in progress.

We have multiple business units offering positive sustainability initiatives. For example, MTR does incredible work in the 2nd-lifecycle solutions space, refurbishing, repairing, testing and reusing smartphones – and helping to reduce demand for resource-heavy brand new phones.

How is the cloud and digital transformation impacting business?
The pace of digital transformation adoption is increasing massively due to a number of factors; in many cases, businesses adapting in a post-covid world.

This is in part to enable their employees to work efficiently in this new hybrid working environment, where there’s a mix of office-based and remote working practices happening.

As business are rationalising their physical office estates, and renew their IT infrastructure, we’re seeing an acceleration of businesses using public cloud to support their IT infrastructures.

Many businesses are increasingly turning towards a hybrid IT environment where elements are still kept within in their main office, but they are using the public cloud to augment their physical infrastructure.

At Exertis, we’re looking to identify the future trends and help our resellers to navigate them, in particular with collaboration technologies including solutions from Microsoft, Poly, Logitech and Lenovo, and with digital cloud-based communications platforms, such as our partnership with Vimeo. Our focus is on supporting our resellers to be able to join in the digital economy.

Exertis has, and is, investing in digital platforms to enable resellers to interact with us in ways which suit them, and to reflect changing buying trends, and to help them make more of the digital economy.

Why are the PCR awards so important to Exertis?
To win two awards at such a prestigious event is absolutely fantastic; everyone involved has done an unbelievable job and given us a great foundation for the future. My thanks go out to everyone in the company who worked hard to make this happen, and to PCR for recognising our achievements this year.

What does it mean to Exertis to have crowned Company of the year at the PCR Awards?
The accolade was absolutely fantastic to win. Being crowned with such a notable title means so much to each and every one of us at Exertis. I’m so proud of not just our retail offering, but of the efforts of every single person in the business to personify our ethos and values. We’ve pulled together as a business to be stronger than ever. Gaining recognition like this is great affirmation of the hard work of our teams.

How has Exertis celebrated it victory?
We were pleased to host free drinks and cakes across all of our UK sites on the Friday after the awards ceremony. We wanted to thank every single member of our staff who all contribute towards Exertis’s success every single day. It was great to invite everyone together to join their colleagues and to share a Friday treat together!

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