Career view: Paul Stone, head of digital and IT, Strata

We speak exclusively to Paul Stone about the route he took to his current role, what it is like working for this company and his thoughts on bringing on the right candidates in future roles.

Please tell us a little about yourself, your role and how you got there.

I began my working life in the Royal Air Force working in telecommunications and upon leaving picked up my first role working in IT for a satellite TV company. I now have over 30 years’ experience working in the IT field having applied my skills and knowledge to a number of different industries, ranging from telecommunications, finance and the fashion industry, working my way from being a computer operator to my current position of head of digital and IT with Strata.

Having been in my previous role for seven years, I felt it was time for a change, simply spotted an advert for a head of IT who was focused on sales and marketing. Having implemented Salesforce.com for the sales and marketing team, it sounded right up my street, so I applied.

What attracted you to housebuilding initially, and is there anything about it you’ve discovered in the meantime that has surprised you?

It was Andrew Weaver’s passion and enthusiasm that attracted me to the company, rather than housebuilding itself. Having said that, I am really happy to be involved in the industry, as I believe from a technology perspective and customer-centric approach, Strata is able to make a large impact.

Were there projects and/or mentors on you way up that were especially good for you and your career?

One specific project comes to mind, where a telecommunications company were creating a product that allowed business customers to use an online system so that they could view their telecoms bills, and analyse their data and spend etc. That may sound “run of the mill” these days, but back in the early 90s it was considered something special. The project was off the rails and I was asked to step in to take over the running of project, which I did and successfully delivered it, which won me an award within the company. The single thing that sticks in my mind was the way the team fully focused on the project and the support and commitment from the senior managers and directors to ensure it was delivered.

In terms on mentoring, my IT manager from my early career really helped me understand what was required from an IT service provider. We are still good friends today.

Has the national skills shortage affected Strata and hindered your recruitment over the past few years?

Not for me within the IT industry, I have always been able to find talented and committed individuals, most of which I have in my in current team today.

Does Strata have defined procedures and standards for potential/permanent employees to meet?

Not specifically, Strata is a SME and family business that has had to recover from the last recession. I tend to think, within my own area, that should any of my staff need a helping hand than I am here for them to ask and vice versa. After all we sit in the same room as them as we are a small team, so it’s important our team can come to us.

Do you think the housebuilding industry is doing enough to attract quality candidates for its many potential job roles?

Yes, absolutely. You only have to look at what Strata are trying to achieve, and the disruption they are creating in the market place. Why wouldn’t someone want to work here?

What advice would you give to potential applicants for jobs in housebuilding today?

Be positive and a team player, focus on customers and accept change for what it is, improvements for the better of customers and to drive the industry to ensure our customers receive the best possible service.

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