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Since the start of 2021, Michael Chanter’s days have begun at 3am as he grapples with having “feet under two tables” for global IT services giant Logicalis.
Since ascending to global chief operating officer at the end of last year, Chanter has taken on responsibility for five continents, 6,500 people and major re-organisation of Logicalis’ entire managed services business.
This all comes while continuing to manage the Australian and New Zealand operation of Thomas Duryea Logicalis until a new CEO takes over.
“It's very exciting time,” he said in an interview with ARN. "It’s probably something that has been on the horizon for a while; we've been doing a lot of innovation out of the Australian business and [Logicalis CEO] Bob Bailkoski has been speaking to me for some time about how we export some of that innovation globally."
Initially, Chanter had planned to relocate to Logicalis’ global headquarters in the United Kingdom later this year, but has pushed back the date until 2022 due to the current COVID-19 conditions.
However, in the days of Teams and Zoom meetings across time zones, Chanter is still able to start executing some of Logicalis’ key strategies in his new role, one of the main ones being bringing its managed services business into a single globally managed organisation.
According to Chanter, Logicalis historically operated as a “federation” of businesses, but without a clear underlying strategy.
However, Chanter will now be tasked with making Logicalis a “services rich” organisation across all its markets from Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific to Africa.
The ultimate goal of this will be having all of Logicalis' markets make 50 per cent of their revenue from services, and more than 50 per cent of margin coming from managed cloud services.
Long-touted as a cloud-ready market, Australia is already at 40 per cent, but as Chanter explains, even just shifting to that extra 10 per cent is ambitious.
“You have to grow faster than 10 per cent to manage because the business as a whole is going to grow,” he explained. “You've got to really outstrip the growth of the business to take up a bigger percentage.”
Chanter is in something of a fortunate position in the COVID-19 pandemic, as it has sparked a dramatic acceleration of cloud adoption, even in the “more conservative countries” in his remit.
“So if there was cloud adoption before, then COVID has accelerated that velocity quite a lot,” he explained. “So we are very focused on how we help our customers move to cloud, move their workloads to the cloud, be cloud confident and manage their environment.”
Another way Chanter intends to bring this unity across the markets is by developing standardised services to use globally. The first of these was a production-ready cloud platform from Australia. According to Chanter, this has been exported to Logicalis’ global markets, already bringing in US$100 million pipeline of products and services.
The final piece in the puzzle will be extending the company's partnerships with Microsoft and Cisco. For this, Chanter is working with Dublin-based Mick McNeil, who moved from Microsoft to take the role of Logicalis VP for business development and the two will now work together in turning Logicalis’ relationship with Microsoft into a US$1 billion business.
Explaining the process behind this, Chanter explained: “It’s more about building [the right] skills and taking them to market. The conversations you're having with customers is probably the single most important thing. And having everyone in the business aligned to that as well be architects.”
Meanwhile, at home in Australia, TDL has grown its sales team by 50 per cent over the last three months. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic saw TDL “pause” a number of investments over six months, Chanter affirmed the business is now “as usual”.
Now with a heavy focus on the New South Wales market, Chanter admitted TDL “always has a pipeline” of acquisitions, but now was an interesting time for any potential deals.
“There's a bit of discord about M&A activity and yet, economic conditions have been tough. So, it's an interesting situation,” he said.
“It's been strange because acquisition targets are valuing themselves very highly. And so obviously, trying to evaluate other policy businesses operating at sub-optimal levels of challenge.”
And what will be in store for the person who will eventually replace him? What will be the key attributes of TDL’s next CEO?
"We've always had a fairly strong focus on sales, and we've got a high cadence and energy around the business,” Chanter added. “So, I think it's just important that someone comes in who has good market awareness understands and is able to execute on the strategy that we've built, and is going to maintain the cadence and success that we've got.
"And obviously, someone who's going to enjoy leading the team that we've built over the last few years, which I think is really the key ingredient.”