Here at RCUK and Alfonica, we attribute success to the hard work of our team, but we know that great leadership matters too. We’re very fortunate to have Maxi Rose steering the ship, as he leads by example and makes every member of staff feel valued, challenged and supported. Rebecca Wood, our Head of Marketing, caught up with Maxi recently to find out more about his experiences as a CEO, and what really makes him tick.
1. The business has grown from humble beginnings back in 1999 to what it is now – two established brands with more than 40 staff (and counting!). Can you tell me more about how it all started?
Humble beginnings indeed. Whilst we launched officially in 1999 and began advertising in the same year, I started in 1996 as a rental business for hardware such as mobile phones and pagers, from an office in my father’s home in Stamford Hill. I wanted to help people in the community to get connected in a way that was accessible and meaningful to them. Don’t forget at that time, having a phone that could move around with you wasn’t new, but for some, it was a big step forward. I feel incredibly grateful to the community for supporting us as a business over so many years.
2. What are your thoughts on current challenges and trends in the telecoms industry?
I think that everything stems from education and knowing what it is that you value in a system or a solution for you as a client. I believe the current challenge of this year is the soon to be “Big Switch Off”, as labelled by BT. Where traditional phone lines as well as traditional connectivity will be switched off by 2025. We’re working with our client base to educate them and encourage them to provision and deploy alternatives, but sometimes, you need to think about three years down the line. I think this is a challenge for some when technology is changing so rapidly. At the same time, the world is going mobile, so clients are exploring more solutions and integrations outside the box.
3. You’ve got a great reputation as one of the most hands-on CEOs in the business, but how do you manage your time effectively? What does a typical day look like for you?
My workday often doesn’t start and finish unfortunately, but that is because I live and breathe my business. I’m sure that any CEO can confirm that they’re constantly searching for ways to improve their customer experience, expand their portfolio and maintain a superior work environment for their colleagues.
I tell this to my team all the time, that “I like to surround myself with good people” and this is true now, more than ever. I have regular progress meetings with my exceptional Department Heads, and everyone knows to come prepared so that we can really strategise and use the time efficiently. We also set deadlines then and there for each project to be completed, or for an update so that we aren’t left with projects in limbo. I feel very privileged that as we have grown, a task that used to be shared by a few colleagues here and there, now has a dedicated appointed individual who can be considered the “go-to” expert within our team. This allows me to step back and look at how we can address the bigger picture plans.
On an average day, I actually dip in and out between teams and departments; from our support mailboxes to provisioning and billing, keeping my finger on the pulse in all departments is vital to me. I LOVE being in the know about what is going on… I also enjoy regular conversations with our suppliers, customers and partners, and researching improvements in new telecoms solutions.
4. Great leaders are learning as they go along too. Who do you look up to for inspiration or mentorship and why?
Great question. I don’t have a typical business tycoon in mind if that’s what you mean. I constantly look to my team for ideas, and it is incredible what we can achieve when we work collaboratively.
I am proud to have a varied team so that with different people, I can see different views and appreciate different opinions. I also feel incredibly blessed that many of my good friends have businesses of their own, so whilst we do not necessarily cross over in industry, we all have experience in managing businesses and this acts as a peer support group for me.
5. At RCUK and Alfonica we are always learning, growing and challenging ourselves. But what’s the one thing that makes you the proudest?
Wow, that is such a difficult question when there is so much I am proud of. We could be here a while! If I have to be honest, I think that the way my colleagues give so much of themselves to the business and go above and beyond for their clients, as if it is their own organisation, is such an unbelievable and satisfying feeling. Meeting people at events and learning that your team sold them new telecoms supplies or a systems solution, without me even knowing that they were a lead to begin with (never mind that they have turned in to an account) is the best feeling in the world. I could keep going all day with stories like this.
6. Leaders will often sacrifice much to reach their position, both personally and professionally. Can you tell me about the most important risk you have taken?
I love risk – risk is my middle name! But allow me to clarify. I don’t want anyone reading this thinking they should jump and sign something because risky deals don’t always pay off. However, after doing what I have been doing for some years, as well as mastering the art to be able to predict and assess certain situations, I’ve found that taking a “calculated” gamble on things is challenging yet rewarding – with calculated being the key word here.
From a sacrifice perspective, we do so daily. It’s a constant struggle managing a healthy work / life balance, which can become quite challenging. Over the years I have learned to relax, delegate and trust my team and the protocols we have developed, allowing me to take a step back.
7. What are your current goals? What do you hope to achieve in 2022 and beyond?
Automation is the name of the game. We’re investing a huge amount of time and resources into state-of-the-art systems, integrations, and superior platforms to enhance our customers’ experience. These take a lot of time, effort, and money to deploy, but once done so successfully, they have massive rewards for everyone.
8. Lastly, what advice would you give other CEOs or business owners that you have learned over your 20 years’ experience?
This is a very good question. I will mention two points which I feel are essential. If I would have been given these tips years ago, it would have saved me lots of aggravation and hard work.
– Stop working in your business and start working ON your business. You may be the most talented support agent, salesman, procurer, or negotiator in your company, however, as long as you continue to do that (because you do it better than the next person), this is all you will continue to do. You MUST deploy the right personnel to each department, start working on how you can improve your business and identify changes that can be achieved from the top.
– REPORTS, REPORTS, REPORTS. I talk to business owners daily who have NO clue what’s flying around in their company. They think they’re making a profit, whilst in reality, they’re not. Keep running those stats, analyse the data and improve on it. This may be uncomfortable (but growth shouldn’t be comfortable!) and act as a wakeup call for many, but it will ultimately save you time and money – and improve your business massively.