Introducing…Paul Slapa

You may know him as Syscap’s Head of Direct Sales, but Paul Slapa narrowly escaped a career in software programming. He explains how the company has changed and his hopes to lend more to the UK’s SMEs.

Paul says: “I was quite good with computers at school, so I did IT GCSE, then A Level, then a degree in Computer Science. At the end of my degree, I realised I actually had no interest in spending my life working in IT and that it was just a hobby. I didn’t fit as a computer geek – I just wasn’t as passionate about it as other people on my course.

Unsure about what to do after university, Paul got in touch with a graduate recruitment agency. “They got me an interview with Syscap, saying they did computer sales. Luckily, I researched the company before the interview and worked out it was not an IT sales company!

Paul was offered a place on Syscap’s graduate programme. “I haven’t looked back since – I’ve worked for Syscap for almost ten years now.

Paul can see that there may have been a family influence on his career choice, although he was not aware of it at the time. His father worked for Lloyds Bank for 38 years, and his mum worked in banking too before having children and retraining as a nursery teacher. Paul and his dad still enjoy a good chat about the finance world, “although the rest of the family switches off!”

Back in 2006, Paul found a very different company to the one he knows today. “It was a typical sales organisation back then, not as extreme as the Wolf of Wall Street but there was a fair bit of ego around; people liked nice cars and being a bit flash, making lots of money. As a 21-year-old straight from university, I thought it was great.

Paul did not enjoy this booming environment for very long, however, as the financial crash hit two years after he started in the team. “The world changed, the company changed. It felt like everything was imploding.

After some turbulent economic times, Paul believes Syscap has come out stronger: “It’s definitely a better place to work today. We have a more considered, commercial approach to how we do things. It’s not all about the money; there is a longer-term plan. For employees, this means better career progression and a clearer organisational structure.

Now a manager in charge of a team of 16, Paul enjoys developing and implementing strategy, as well as regular contact with other teams, especially marketing. The recent move to target SMEs as well as professional firms is really paying off.

We’ve been doubling the business written for the last two years, and I expect we will again this year. Now we’re owned by Wesleyan, a bigger company, there is more money to lend and a longer-term approach. There are five million SMEs out there that we can canvas for funding. My role is to build the team that will take on the huge growth opportunity. I want us to be – hands down – the most important part of Syscap. It is very exciting.

Paul recently helped restart Syscap’s graduate recruitment programme. As a graduate recruit himself, he feels strongly about the benefits of hiring people fresh from college: “You get people at a stage in life where they are hungry to be busy and work hard. I always tell them that sales work is not rocket science – the most successful people are simply the hardest workers.

The first question graduates and recruiters ask Paul is always about sales targets. “I’d love them to hit targets from month one, but really what I care about is behaviour.  If you can learn and absorb as much knowledge as you can, ask questions if you don’t understand something – but ask once, not twice – I believe in the long term you will be successful.

Outside work, Paul is the proud father of a five-year-old daughter and son who is nearly two. Another boy is on the way, due next spring. The family moved to North Wales, where Paul grew up, so his daughter could go to the same school as him and to be close to Paul and his wife’s parents.

Despite growing up in Wales and living there now, Paul is keen to dismiss a misconception: “People think I am Welsh, but I am not! I was born in Shrewsbury and lived there until I was five.

An avid sports fan, Paul plays five-a-side once a week and inherited his dad’s love of Manchester United, “which is not very entertaining right now – we’re in for some lean years!

Now we come to Paul’s darkest secret: his love of professional wrestling. “My wife tells me I’m nearly 30 and should have grown out of it by now, but if I was ever on Mastermind, pro wrestling from the late 90s would definitely be my specialist subject.

Happy Christmas from Syscap

As Christmas approaches and our thoughts move from spreadsheets and projections to turkey and presents, Syscap Managing Director Philip White considers the company’s highlights of 2015.

This year has been a defining one for Syscap. The company was purchased by new owner Wesleyan, opening up new opportunities for expansion. We celebrated a significant landmark: our silver jubilee, marking 25 years of trading. Syscap was also honoured to be recognised as ‘SME Champion UK’ in the 2015 Leasing Life Awards.

Purchase by Wesleyan

The 28 February 2015 was truly a seminal moment for Syscap; we concluded the sale of the company to Wesleyan. We had enjoyed eight years of private equity ownership which saw us through the testing times of the economic crisis, but the new shareholders give us access to increased capital and the opportunity to grow. It’s also a chance to nurture and develop our talented staff even more than we do now, as part of our wider development.

It is tempting to think that price is the only differentiator in the financial market, but people are prepared to pay for value. We listen to customers and develop products that truly meet their commercial and financial objectives.

As we grow, we will always keep the customer at the centre of the dial, whether they want a full account manager service or to access funding through an app. We’re planning to deploy in excess of £250m in the next financial year, helping SMEs to continue their role as the lifeblood of UK Plc.

Silver Jubilee

We marked 25 years of trading with an amazing gala dinner in August, where customers, employees past and present and partners came together for a spectacular event. The party was great, but what is really important is the journey the business has taken. Looking back to 2008 and the depth of the financial crisis, we can be proud that we continued to trade and navigated our way through choppy waters.

Many companies failed during the financial crisis, including global players like RBS and Lloyds who needed state assistance. For Syscap, the characteristics that brought us success pre-crisis ensured our survival: strong commitment and will from our funders and partners and a dedication to the SME community, which requires sustainable funding for continued growth.

The road ahead – the UK’s SME Champion

It is fashionable to talk about the alternative lending market and Fintech right now. Syscap has been an alternative lender for 25 years – we’ve always been an alternative to banks. Banks are incredibly good at some things, but they cannot rival our deep domain vertical market knowledge and expertise. We truly understand the markets we serve.

As for Fintech, we’ve developed an online platform over the last 11-12 years, and now offer short-serve financial products for SMEs in a 24/7 self-serve online environment, including an app. In the year to come, we will continue to drive innovation and be disruptive.

On 3 December, we were proud to be named SME Champion UK in the 2015 Leasing Life Awards. This recognition of our improved funding levels, service and advice for small business customers was the icing on the (Christmas) cake of a very momentous and important year.

On behalf of Syscap, I wish all of our customers and employees a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous new year.

Another award nomination for Syscap!

Syscap has received its fourth industry award nomination in just two months – this time for the prestigious Leasing World Awards 2015.

We’ve been shortlisted for Vendor Specialist of the Year – focused on those leading the provision of finance to the vendor community, an area Syscap has been passionate about for 25 years. We’re proud to be joining other worthy nominees, Henry Howard Finance and Shire Leasing.

The Leasing World Awards aims to recognise the leaders within the financing sector along with acknowledging the next generation of up and coming talent.

Philip White, Managing Director of Syscap comments: “We’re delighted to be shortlisted for this accolade. At Syscap we’re committed to working closely with vendor clients to provide them with the right flexible finance solutions to meet their customers’ needs and ensure they can grow their businesses quickly and efficiently.”

Winners will be announced at the annual Leasing World dinner, on the 1st October at The White Suite in London. Other categories include UK Lessor of the Year, SME Champion of the Year and New Challenger of the Year.

Having already been nominated for the CRN Awards and the Leasing Life Awards, Syscap certainly has an exciting awards season ahead!

Congratulations to everyone who made the shortlist, you can take a look at the full list of categories and the broad range of funders who have made the shortlist for 2015.

Syscap’s a double Leasing Life Awards finalist

Syscap is delighted to announce that it has received two nominations for the Leasing Life Awards 2015.

The first is in the ‘SME Champion – UK’ category alongside other reputable finance providers such as Lloyds Bank and Azule Finance, all of which recognise how important small and medium-sized businesses are to the UK economy.

Leasing Life Finalist 2015 | Syscap

“The self-service customer portals that we recently developed are among the ways that we have strengthened our dedication to SMEs. We understand that small businesses aren’t experts in finance, and so we give small firms 24/7 administration options to enable them to carry out financial processes promptly” says Philip White, Managing Director of Syscap.

Syscap has also been shortlisted in the ‘Vendor Finance Provider of the Year’ category, recognising the support that it’s increasingly given vendors and resellers through offering them flexible financial solutions. It’s an honour to be nominated alongside finance providers that also support the IT vendor sector, such as Cisco Capital and BNP Paribas.

“The support that we give to vendors goes beyond offering financial solutions. We have actively provided networking opportunities to vendor partners, as well as tools and marketing support for their own campaigns”, say White.

Combined with the CRN Awards nomination from last month Syscap now has an exciting few months ahead and hotly anticipate the Leasing Life Awards ceremony in Budapest this coming December.

Congratulations to everyone else who has made the shortlist – it’s encouraging to see such a broad spectrum of financial services industry players receive credit for their work. Take a look at the full list of award categories and nominations here.

Cycle Infor Heroes: Philip’s challenge

It all started back in February when our MD, Philip White, went for a post-meeting dinner with George Czasznicki, CFO at enterprise software firm Infor. Syscap and Infor have been partners for over ten years, both directly and through channel partners and subsidiaries.

Fancy a trip to Paris?” George asked, to which Phil, sipping his second glass of wine, immediately replied, “Of course.” An outing to the French capital sounded ideal, Phil thought – a chance to relax, sample some fine Parisian cuisine and do a spot of sightseeing.

Oh, by the way,” George added, “we’re cycling.

Inspired by the 2014 Invictus Games, the team at Infor decided to host their very own charity event to raise money for Help for Heroes; a non-profit organisation that supports the UK’s wounded war veterans. Cycle Infor Heroes will see 30 amateur cyclists from the UK and beyond embark on a gruelling 230-mile ride, setting off from London’s Horse Guards Parade on the 17th of September and finishing three days later at Paris’ iconic Eiffel Tower, where they will be treated to a well-deserved feast at a classic French bistro.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Phil – an inexperienced cyclist, in his own words – invested in some essential Lycra and treated himself to a shiny new Bianchi bike. “I also bought myself some cleats to look the part,” Phil says, “But, as I was approaching the traffic lights on my very first road outing, I realised I had no idea how to remove my foot from the pedal. Slowly, and in front of a long line of cars, I started to fall onto the pavement. You could say that was a defining moment for me!

phil-small-child_300x200

After his cycling mishap, Phil realised it was time to start taking training seriously. He visited Cadence Performance in Crystal Palace, where the team assessed him and created a tailored training plan. “I’ve been adhering to the plan religiously since day one. I even trained during my holiday in Spain, riding 600k across 9 days!

Ride25, the cycling event company helping Infor organise the ride, told Phil that the 30 riders taking part in the event will naturally split into three groups: those who can, those who think they can, and those who can’t. “At best, I want to be at the back of ‘those who can’ and worst, at the front of ‘those who think they can’.

Help for Heroes was set up back in 2007 after husband and wife Bryn and Emma Parry visited injured servicemen and servicewomen in Birmingham’s Selly Oak Hospital. The very first event the couple hosted to raise money was a bike ride – “So, you see,” Phil says, “cycling is at the core of this charity.

Emma has spoken openly about how donations to Help for Heroes have dropped by a staggering 40% in the past five years. Phil comments: “It may be due to charity fatigue or because war simply isn’t front-of-mind for people anymore. But, it’s important to realise that supporting war veterans is just as critical now as it ever has been. The trauma people suffer is long term and many find themselves needing life-long rehabilitation. Watching the Invictus Games, we hear many humbling stories of soldiers who have recovered well from their experiences – but that’s only a small percentage. There are many others who are still struggling, not just with their injuries but with things like relationships and reintegration within society.

Phil has managed to raise almost £7,000 through his JustGiving page, which is over double his initial target of £3,000. “I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity and support of my friends, family and colleagues. My aim is to hit £7,500 before the big day.

Phil tells us he’s eager to get going. “It’s something I’ve trained very hard for in order to raise as much money as possible for an unforgettable cause. It’s been physically and mentally challenging, and I’ve had to make a few sacrifices. I must admit, when my alarm rings at 5am and it’s cold and wet outside, on a few occasions I’ve been tempted to hit the snooze button. But then I think of the brave people who have served our country – what they have been through and what they sacrificed. They didn’t hit the snooze button. They didn’t give up.

With just under a week to go, Phil’s putting in the final preparations and has invested in some chamois cream for the ride. “Let’s put it like this: when I reach the French bistro, I plan to be celebrating equally as hard as I’ve trained!

Syscap signs Ideagen to IT finance partner programme

Syscap now operates UK’s largest independent IT finance programme by membership

London, 9th September 2015 – Compliance software vendor Ideagen has become a Select level partner and the latest addition to Syscap’s partner programme. Ideagen will now be able to use Syscap’s financing to offer its own customers more flexible subscription based payment terms, while ensuring that it is still paid at time of sale. As the UK’s leading independent finance provider for IT, Syscap’s programme now features 13 of the UK’s top software vendors and over 250 IT resellers as partners, making it the UK’s largest independent IT finance programme by membership.

Ideagen is a leading provider of enterprise governance, risk and compliance software and healthcare solutions, which enable organisations working in highly regulated industries to meet their quality compliance standards. Ideagen will use Syscap’s finance service to provide its customers with financial solutions that can balance payment against risk.

As a partner Ideagen will benefit from dedicated Syscap account management, training for its sales team, and access to an online quoting tool to ensure deals aren’t delayed when waiting for a credit decision.

Ben Dorks, sales and marketing director at Ideagen, comments, “Our customers operate in an environment where IT issues can have significant consequences. Being able to offer clients flexibility and security of payment terms is vital for them to ensure that they have the best technology available to them. We evaluated a number of suppliers but it was Syscap’s experience in providing financing solutions for software and services that set it apart from its competitors. Its level of interaction and support to our 60 plus sales team along with its online portal means that it’s easy for us to access solutions fit for our customer needs at any time.

Philip White, managing director, at Syscap adds, “We’ve invested heavily in our IT channel programme over the last 12 months and we continue to see this attract leading vendors and resellers. The channel is increasingly focused on the need to offer customers flexible financing options in today’s cloud based world. Using finance IT vendors are able to sell up to 30% more by removing the barriers often placed by budget restrictions. Ideagen increases our footprint in the public sector too, where we are already engaged through the likes of Softcat and Advanced Computer Software. I am delighted to welcome Ideagen on board and look forward to a long and mutually productive relationship.

Syscap has witnessed rapid growth in its IT channel partner programme that was re-launched in April this year. This growth highlights the increasing trend by resellers and ISVs to offer their own customers the OPEX payment model that typically comes with cloud services. Resellers are also increasingly turning to providers like Syscap for finance support to fund new assets required to support this growth such as datacenters, new premises and other infrastructure.

Syscap IT sector clients include Concurrent Engineering, Sage, Autodesk, Infor, Softcat, Viglen, Datel and Advanced Business Solutions.

 

For further information or interview opportunities, please contact:
Rob Skinner / Katherine Wilding
Skout PR
01625 869418
rob.skinner@skoutpr.com / katherine.wilding@skoutpr.com

 

Syscap shortlisted for CRN IT Channel Services Provider of the Year

Syscap are thrilled to be shortlisted this year at the CRN Channel Awards 2015.Channel Services Provider of the Year Shortlist CRN Awards 2015 | Syscap

The Channel Services Provider of the Year category is a hotly contested one, and we are extremely honoured to be among those named in the shortlist, along with other well-respected companies including The IT Marketing Agency, Networks First and Comms-Care.

Syscap has worked hard to develop its channel offering over the last 12 months, investing large sums into our systems offering, product development and marketing. We relaunched our Syscap Partner Programme back in January 2015, utilising a new partner portal as well as additional training modules and tools for the sales teams of our reseller community.

We very recently launched our updated online quoting tool, allowing our resellers to instantly get initial credit review and feedback on their customers, as well as giving them access to real-time interest rates and personally transact their own deals to suit them. For more information about our Syscap Partner Programme, click here.

We’d like to congratulate everyone who has been shortlisted for the CRN Awards 2015 and look forward to seeing you there to celebrate the very best in the IT channel space. We’re especially pleased to congratulate our partners on their shortlisting success including Bytes, shortlisted for Corporate VAR of the Year and Softcat, shortlisted for Reseller of the Year.

We look forward to celebrating with you in November! For the full shortlist and more information on the awards click here.

Introducing… Goula Charalambous

Goula Charalambous has been part of the Syscap team for over 13 years. As head of HR, she looks after the day-to-day running of our company, dealing with everything from recruitment and payments to training and development. Goula project managed the relocation to new offices last December and since being acquired by Wesleyan Group nine months ago, she has been a key figure in harmonising the two organisations.

Goula spared a few minutes of her time to tell us a little bit about her background, and why she enjoys her job so much…

Goula’s first-ever job was working for John Lewis in Oxford Street. “I was on a programme similar to a graduate scheme and had day release to college. I studied at the Institute of Textiles & Design and was training to be a Buyer, which I wanted to be at the time.”

However, Goula’s career took a different turn when she was offered a job at Mortgage Corporation; a company owned by Salomon Bros. She worked in the Portfolio Services department, and her role entailed looking after mortgages for firms such as Legal & General and Societe Generale. When she spotted a vacancy for a legal executive, working in the legal department for corporate lawyers, she applied and was successful. Goula went back to college on day release but this time to study law; and this is when she started to develop an interest in employment law.

“I began to work closely with lawyers and the Human Resources department which was a great experience and turned my hand more to HR.” Goula worked for the firm for seven years before taking voluntary redundancy. She soon found temporary work at the Financial Times, on a maternity cover contract for one of the directors. After nine months with the company she was offered a permanent position as a training and development supervisor.

Goula worked for the Financial Times for five years before moving to computer software firm Riversoft, working as a resources manager, where she looked after the sales force and pre-sales force that supported them. “My role involved matching the sales person with the technical ability required to enable us to work with different organisations all over the world. We travelled a great deal to Dubai, the USA and Europe. I had a great time and met some amazing people.” After two years, the company was sold to Riversoft’s main competitor and Goula left. She admits: “They wanted the software, but not the people.”

Goula wasn’t specifically looking to join Syscap when an employment agency she was signed-up with set her up with an interview. “In that interview room, I knew that Syscap was the company I wanted to work for. Sean Williams, who was CEO at the time, sold it to me straight away – I never thought, six months in, that I’d be working for this company 13 years later!”

Goula first worked as Sean’s PA; there wasn’t an HR department at the time, though many of her duties were HR-related. “As the company grew we came across more challenges and it was clear we needed an actual HR department. So, I found the perfect person to look after Sean and I managed to move over to HR 100%.”

“Though I’ve had the same job title for many years, it always feels like my role is changing,” Goula tells us. “I’m doing something different every single day… it’s really exciting.” Syscap has recently welcomed seven graduates onto its team and Goula has been busy helping them to settle in.

“Syscap is a vibrant, dynamic company. I enjoy my job because I love the people I work with and the culture these people have created.”

We asked Goula why she thinks Syscap is the success it is today. “Syscap is successful because of the people; there is a great work ethic, everyone works incredibly hard and we all believe in the business. Philip is a great driver of the business and we are fortunate to have some fantastic directors and managers on our team.

“It’s an open door policy and we operate like a very large family. I would like to see the company grow and become more successful over time.”

If you would like to find out more about working for Syscap, get in touch.

Introducing… Sean Walton-Carroll

Sean Walton-Carroll is one of Syscap’s longest serving employees. During 20 years of working for us, his job title has evolved from Customer Services Manager to Head of Asset Manager & Customer Services, and now to Asset Management Manager. Following our recent silver jubilee celebrations, we asked Sean for a few minutes of his time to talk about his background, hobbies and experience working for Syscap. And it appears that we have another Crystal Palace supporter in our midst…

Sean grew up in Warlingham, Surrey, and was the youngest of four children. “My parents pushed us all into paper and milk rounds as soon as we were old enough, and I spent many school holidays working with dad who was a painter and decorator.” His dad’s meagre wages were further eroded by deductions for food and petrol expenses, so Sean helped by packing his own lunchbox and cycling to his jobs.

It was Sean’s mum who found him his first full-time job after spotting an advertisement for a drayman in the Croydon Advertiser. The job paid £60 a week with 7am starts every morning. Sean learned how to carry heavy loads and this, together with his painting and decorating skills, served him very well having just moved house.

After working as a drayman for several years, stoppages forced Sean to look for another job and it wasn’t long before he landed a role working for The Worldwide Visa Shop; a private Passport and Visa agency based in St Martin-in-the-Fields. The firm specialised in short notice applications, so aside from the general public Sean regularly dealt with journalists, celebrities and sportspeople. Armed with a briefcase and ginormous Panasonic c10, Sean’s job involved visiting foreign offices and consulates in the capital.

Sean’s specialist area was the old Soviet Union, particularly dealing with those traveling with Intourist and on the Trans-Siberian Express railway. He tells us: “I spent many a long afternoons sitting in the consular section of the Russian Embassy at Kensington Gardens while some demure chain-smoking official scrutinised my applications for hours before finally issuing the required visas. It was very John le Carré, but I loved it.”

After a few years, it was upwards and onwards for Sean and he joined Unilever, working in Sales and Marketing Operations for Brooke Bond catering in Croydon. The division looked after household brands such as Flora, Walls and PG Tips, overseeing supply and demand along with product launches and campaigns into the cash and carry wholesale sector.

After a short while of working for Unilever, Sean started to realise that bigger isn’t always better. “It was an extremely rigid environment and a stark contrast to what I’d previously experienced.” But the job did have its perks, particularly for Sean’s mum, who was given plenty of free tea and coffee.

It was at Unilever where Sean first gained experience working in the leasing market. “I looked after Bravilor Mondo coffee machines, where customers would get a free machine if they purchased a predetermined amount of coffee.” If those customers reneged, Sean had to persuade them to either buy more coffee or, failing that, recover the equipment. Dealing namely with the pub sector, Sean admits: “It was difficult. Big, tough landlords didn’t want to buy more coffee, they just wanted to see you come and try to take their machine away. I lost far more than I won, but it was a good experience.”

At the time, Sean’s company ran a programme for Sankey and Wittenborg vending machines in conjunction with Anglo Leasing, who were based in the building next door. Sean applied for a position there and was successful. “The fact I still work and have contact with a number of former Anglo colleagues is testament to what I learned there and the culture they deployed.”

From Anglo Leasing, Sean then moved on to Syscap and has been with us ever since. “Actually, quite a lot of people warned me against working for a mainstream funder, given the bad reputation of brokers at the time.” Sean admits that his reason to apply was part in the face of those who advised him not to.

“From the unorthodox interview methods of the then Managing Director, I did wonder for a moment if those people were right. Let’s say the interview process was definitely not one you’d find in any HR manual, but the MD sold me the dream and almost 20 years later I’m still here, so I reckon I’ve made the right choice.”

20150430_161112_resizedWe ask Sean why he believes Syscap is the success it is today. “As a company, I think we’ve helped change the reputational image of brokers for the better. The open-door policy of management and directors over the years has lent itself to the convivial working atmosphere that largely remains today.”

When speaking of the challenges and rewards his role brings, Sean says: “I’d say the greatest challenge is ensuring the Asset Management function continues to meet the ever-evolving needs of the business. The fact it largely does is the reward.”

So, what does Sean like to do in his spare time? Well, as previously mentioned, he’s an avid Crystal Palace supporter. “I’ve been following the club for 42 seasons, home and away,” he says, admitting that he’d “dodge parties, weddings and gatherings if it clashes with a home game.” Sean even neglected usher duties at his brother’s wedding, choosing instead to stand at the back of the church with a pair of earphones in, listening to updates. “I got my comeuppance though… we lost 7-1 at Huddersfield.”

Sean’s wife, Claire, used to be the Croydon Advertiser Blue Bear mascot on the pitch before home games many years go. “You could say it was a marriage made in heaven. And yes, we still have the costume!”