Thinking differently to make a difference

Last year, we published an interview that we had conducted with our CIO, Karl Nicholson, featuring his inspirational story that has shaped the business that Synaptek is today. Less than a year later, and we’re delighted that Karl’s passion and ambition is still heavily influencing a positive future for both Synaptek and his own personal achievements.

We are delighted to be able to share that Karl has won two fantastic awards this year. The most recent is to be named Tech Leader of the Year by his peers who voted in the recent Birmingham Tech Week awards. He was also the winner of the ‘Future Face of Technology & Innovation’ category at the Greater Birmingham Future Faces Chambers of Commerce & BYPY Young Professional Awards 2021. The awards recognise the remarkable achievements of professionals in the greater Birmingham region, so we couldn’t be prouder that Karl has been recognised for his fantastic contribution to shaping the future of technology!

We believe that ‘Thinking differently to make a difference’ is what has driven Karl’s success and makes him a more than worthy winner of these great accolades. Here’s why…

Shaping the future of work

Karl is a force to be reconned with and an inspiration in both his commercial and personal achievements. He has the perfect mix of a fierce, entrepreneurial drive with a compassionate and affable nature that has enabled him to build a business and community connections that are helping to shape the future of work.

The last year has been incredibly challenging for everyone, but Karl has grasped the challenges and opportunities presented and channelled them into evolving a unique business proposition while completing some incredible personal achievements. He’s also spent a considerable proportion of his time supporting community initiatives that are helping organisations to recover faster and stronger in the new future of work.

From a business perspective, Karl was central to the creation of Synaptek, which was launched in the first half of 2019, and so the business was just under a year old when the country went into the first national lockdown, which could have been crippling for such a new venture. However, with perseverance and Karl’s determination to make work better for everyone, we have been able to continue to grow and increase our workforce five-fold during the last year.

One of the reasons we have been able to thrive is because Karl shaped the business as a digital-first operation, so it had everything in place to continue to deliver the highest standard of work throughout the pandemic.

Transforming IT service management

One of Karl’s most significant achievements was spearheading the development of an innovative Intelligent Service Management system called Qualia. We designed this unique platform to transform IT service management and address the challenges created for businesses due to the velocity of change driven by the pandemic. Although businesses have been quick to invest in technology to deal with the immediate impact on their operations and workforce, many are still plagued by process inefficiencies and a lack of visibility and consistency across the business, resulting in increased risk and poor customer experiences.

Karl had the vision to fix these issues and aid recovery by putting technology to work to ease the pressure on overstretched teams and enable better ways of working. This vision came to fruition with the launch of Qualia in mid-2021; a fantastic achievement given the constraints his own team were under due to the national lockdown.

Karl presented Qualia at the prestigious Zenoss GalaxZ21 AIOps event 2021, check out his exclusive launch to the Intelligent Service Management System here:

Driving a people-first ethos

Karl has worked hard to create a people-first culture at Synaptek, which nurtures talent, is accessible and changes perceptions of traditional technology service providers. He is incredibly passionate about this part of his role because he had a non-traditional route into IT and this has given him a determination to change the pathway for people to enter the technology industry.

Karl struggled with formal education and left school with a negative perception; it was only later in life that he was diagnosed with dyslexia. This was a defining moment as he was finally able to understand why the way he was made to learn didn’t match what he knew he was capable of. He faced many challenges in his early career, especially in communicating in writing, so his confidence had taken a battering but his determination was always strong and getting this diagnosis was the driving force for change.

There is much misunderstanding about dyslexia so Karl advocates for how better understanding can help unleash the different qualities it gives an individual. He is a huge advocate for global charity, MADE BY DYSLEXIA, who are committed to ‘help the world understand, value and support dyslexia.’ He is passionate about the charity’s values and will often promote and share information across social media in aim to help support those who are facing similar battles.

Understanding more about dyslexia has helped him to play to his strengths and it is what has made him committed to making roles in the technology industry more accessible.

It’s this commitment that has also driven Karl to get involved in a number of local community initiatives to help shape the future for the next generation coming into the technology industry. This year, he has volunteered his time and members of my team to support Aston University in its annual hackathon, Birmingham Tech in its work with Birmingham Met College and the Princess Trust in its innovative Coding School programme that helps more young people into a successful technical career.

Karl also recently became a Slack Community Chapter Leader and launched the first-ever Birmingham Slack Community Chapter, which hosts events that bring together those passionate about using technology to help improve ways of working. He is working towards growing this community into one which benefits all involved and helps to further cement Birmingham as a centre of excellence for technology innovation.

Community and charity involvement

On top of all of this, Karl manages to balance running Synaptek while working part-time as Regional Communications Officer (Wales & West) for the RAF Air Cadets, giving his time and experience to helping young people learn and develop new skills that will better prepare them for life and work.

Karl is also dedicated to giving back to his community and charities that are close to his heart. During the pandemic, he was acutely aware that many charities were facing their toughest year. He was determined to play his part in helping them to continue their work, so he set about completing two personal challenges and raised thousands in sponsorship. The first challenge was to walk 111 miles over 11 days while carrying 11kg on his back to mark Remembrance Day and support the incredible work of The Royal British Legion. Next, he took on the even more impressive challenge of walking 100km in just 36 hours, along the Jurassic Coast, in support of Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Both were completed with gusto and demonstrate Karl’s dedication to getting things done! This was all whilst also preparing to welcome his first child!

It’s incredible that he can find the time to do so much while running and growing a successful business, but we know that he will only continue to surprise us with his unbounded energy and zest for making a difference!