Global engineering company Ultra Energy’s head of information technology, Paul Sylvester, pins success in his IT department down to the skills he has transferred from working at MSPs.

Previously head of IT operations and security at Taylor Made Computer Solutions, technical director at Deverill and senior infrastructure consultant at Codestone Group, Sylvester told CRN Australia at the VeeamON conference in Florida this week, that leading an internal IT team with an MSP background “completely changes the way you think”.

“[Internal IT departments] know their infrastructure really well, they know the applications they can service but they’ve never explored anything outside of that,” Sylvester said.

“As we used to call them in MSP world, they are the bubble. So, they know their bit, but they just don’t have the time or they don’t make the time to see what’s outside.”

Sylvester told CRN Australia that he has trained his team at Ultra Energy over the last three years to step outside the bubble, and “work like an MSP”, encouraging them to network, seek out new solutions, and drive continuous improvement.

“I send them out to events like this and I ask them to bring back one product to the table that we can look at next year,” he said.

“We have our blue-sky budget and I task everyone in the team both [in the] US and UK to go and find these vendors, look at the products we have, and then let’s see what we can improve.”

Education and training is another key area of uplift, he said.

“As an in-house user, what I’ve trained or educated my stakeholders, my bosses, is that they have to invest in their people. Because it’s easy to just say ‘Okay, we have this guy, he’s really good. He’s doing his job,’ and then worry about the other part of the business, but not invest in your IT guys.”

“And what tends to happen is that they’re just getting rusty or they get bored and move on to something else. So that’s something that my organisation have now seen as important. We’ve now got a proper training budget for the team, we send them out on external courses, but courses that are really going to benefit them…it gives them a kind of broad spectrum of IT as a whole.”

And ultimately, money isn’t everything, but it sure helps.  

“I want them to stay as well. So not only do we give them the incentive, we pay them like MSPs,” Sylvester said.

“A lot of IT people who work for companies aren’t paid very well, or as well as what they’re really worth. So, I pay my team like they work for an MSP.”

“I think that’s one of the main things that really works for us, because I keep them engaged, they get what they want, and I’m always pushing them… so that they can exceed their own expectations.”

Note: Velvet-Belle Templeman travelled to Fort Lauderdale, Florida as a guest of Veeam to report on the VeeamON conference.