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Director and Founder of Aspen Solutions Vincent Harkins sat down with us to talk about the history of the business, the IT Services industry in general, and looking towards the future.

My career in IT Services really started with working for a major manufacturer. My role there was to sell this supplier’s photocopiers to our national accounts. Prior to that, I didn’t have much experience in the market, so it was a great learning curve for me. However, it was always in the back of my mind that one day I wanted to work for myself and build my own business. This dovetailed into starting my first business with a friend which was successful for many years. We decided to part ways and focus on our own ventures at which point, in March 1998, I established Aspen Solutions with a few customer contacts I had built over the years. Obviously, this has grown exponentially over the years, but that small group of customers was all we needed to get us off the ground.

In 22 years, both the business and the marketplace we operate within have transformed completely. Even looking at our response to COVID-19 and our ability to get our customers working efficiently from home as quickly as we did; this would have been unimaginable back in the day! It’s incredible to see the change that accessibility to IT outside of the workplace has made to the way people work now. For starters, many of the younger people starting out in their careers with us have a much wider understanding of tech and software than they would have been able to acquire 20 years ago. This means more opportunities for a wider range of young people which is a massive win in my eyes!

This accessibility has also allowed us all to be more mobile in how we work and promote that throughout our business. Work from home has definitely highlighted the possibility of working around your own schedule for many people who never had the chance to consider it before – but it’s something we’ve been conscious of for many years. We have a really quality team and strong leadership, everyone takes responsibility for their own work and the work of their team, so it’s easy to trust everyone to get their work done around their own unique schedules. Whether it’s working around school runs or allowing for part-time work, it’s important to be agile and flexible in response to life events. This is something that has definitely changed since the 90s, as we can now take our work with us. Before we would have had to communicate internally on our Nokia bricks and would have no access whatsoever to speak to clients – now I could easily take a laptop with me to do a quick bit of work while visiting my grandkids rather than staying late at the office!

In the near future, I can definitely see us migrating to a flexible work-from-home set up for our staff and possibly even allowing for a 4 day work week. We were really ahead of the curve with our response to COVID-19 lockdown, and we want to replicate that forward-thinking in every aspect of our working culture. Our team has proven that new ways of working are possible, so it’ll be interesting to see where things go from here!

In terms of the work we do, the business has also changed quite a bit since its inception. Our specialism now is as an IT Services Business which covers a wide range of support and supply. Our core team has been incredible in supporting this transition. Our core team have all been with us now for several years and we have found that our staff retention in recent years has been much better – this, I’m sure, is due to our flexibility and our clear path of progression within the business. There are so many opportunities to constantly improve and the team back each other all the way. Recently, I was made privy to the fact that Junior staff have been included in the interview process for new hires. I thought this was such a great idea from the management team, as these are the people new hires will be interacting with the most – so getting them familiar early on and really hearing their opinions in the process leads to stronger relationships within every level of the team.

Moving forward, we have a really solid team who are keen to continue our trajectory from the past year. I expect we’ll be looking into some strategic acquisitions in the near future and expanding our customer base further down South. We pride ourselves on the ability of our people and the strength of our services, which we will continue to exemplify over the coming months. We want to make sure no matter how much we scale up or how far we progress, that we maintain the same level of great service for all of our customers. I have no doubt that the Aspen team as it stands will achieve this – and more.

Our team has been offering the best in IT Services and Solutions across the UK for over 20 years, if you want to find out more about how we can help you – get in touch today. You can also keep in touch with us via our LinkedIn and Twitter pages too!

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