A conversation with Paschal Naylor
Paschal Naylor received the lifetime achievement award at the Tech Excellence Awards in recognition of his contribution to the Irish IT industry. Naylor is the co-founder and CEO of Arkphire, the Irish IT consulting and managed-services company that was recently acquired by US tech firm Presidio.
Arkphire dates back to 1981, when it was known as Memorex Telex. Under Naylor’s leadership, Arkphire secured a multimillion investment from London-based private capital firm Bregal Milestone in late 2018 to aid growth. In early 2020, Arkphire completed the acquisition of fellow Irish company Trilogy Technologies to create one of the largest IT services & solutions businesses in the country. Arkphire had impressively grown to become a €160 million business with more than 250 employees serving customers across more than 90 countries. Earlier this year Arkphire was re-branded to Presidio, having been acquired by the global digital services and solutions provider.
Here TechCentral.ie caught up with the award-winner to discuss the win, his career highlights, and his best advice to those starting out in the industry.
What does winning the award mean to you?
I am delighted to have received the award and am very grateful to the selection committee. The award is recognition of the Presidio (previously Arkphire) business and the journey we have travelled as a team, with all of my colleagues and former colleagues going back to when the business was originally established in 1979. Truly a lifetime ago.
On a personal note, winning this award is a very proud moment in my career. I’m flattered to have been selected and to be among a group of esteemed industry leaders that have won this award before me.
From creating one of the fastest-growing IT services & solutions businesses in the country, to building a €160m business with more than 250 employees, your career has had plenty of highlights. What have some of your proudest moments been?
In terms of the business, I think a proud moment was starting Arkphire in the middle of a recession and turning it into the successful business it is today, which required a lot of hard work over the past decade. Arkphire was created in 2011 following a management buy-out (MBO) from the original German parent company who had decided to sell. Myself, the CTO and a number of outside investors funded the purchase which created an incredible opportunity for us to expand the business and we have not looked back.
Delivering on our growth ambition has provided a huge sense of achievement and satisfaction and working as an IT partner to some of the world’s leading businesses. Before being acquired by Presidio, Arkphire had grown to become a €160 million business with more than 250 employees serving customers across more than 90 countries. When I look back on where we started and see what we have achieved, I can’t help but feel proud of our accomplishments.
Our journey to where we are now, has brought many challenges and we have had to continuously adapt and transform our business model to keep pace with ever evolving technologies and the needs of our customers. I am so proud of how our team has demonstrated their ability to positively embrace change, to grow and develop in their respective roles and to stay focused on delivering towards our business goals and objectives.
Along the way, we have had some great highlights to reflect on; multiple industry awards and accreditations with the leading IT vendors, the acquisition and integration of Irish tech businesses Bootstrap and Trilogy Technologies into our business, international expansion with operations in Asia Pacific, attracting investment from Bregal Milestone, one of the top pan-European funds for fast growth companies and more recently becoming part of the Presidio business, in what is set to now become a new exciting chapter for our people and customers.
What were some of the greatest challenges you experienced as CEO of Arkphire?
In the early days of Arkphire, we faced daily operational challenges. Literally every day during the recession, I would come in and check how much cash we had to keep the business going.
Over the years, we have been fortunate to have fantastic customers, employees, suppliers, and friends. Our business model was built around a ‘follow-the-customer’ approach. Although this has proved a successful business model for Arkphire over the years it has not been without its challenges. It meant we needed to be able to grow and expand in tandem with our clients to ensure we could meet their growing international needs.
There were also many challenges involved in the acquisition process for both Bootstrap and Trilogy Technologies and integrating them into one business. When acquiring well established brands, there is always a challenge to align people, culture, and services from the newly acquired businesses into the existing brand and company. Thankfully, we managed these challenges and the transition of both companies to the Arkphire and now Presidio brand has been successful.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry today?
I believe the best advice I can give to anyone starting out in the industry is to concentrate on education and personal development. This industry is continuously evolving, and we need to evolve with it or risk being left behind.
I have always given the following career tips: First, be passionate and brave in your career and take calculated risks that support and encourage real innovation in everything you do. Second, develop a mindset that is always putting the customer first. Many years ago, I was advised to ‘follow and support your customers’ and that mindset has stood our business well over the years. Third, live in the present but dream and commit to a ‘build for the future’ approach and attitude in everything you do, both in your professional and personal life.