We welcome Wayne Bos and Guy Helman, Executive Chairman and Head of Mergers & Acquisitions at ILX Group, to our regular series of interviews with leading figures in the business community.
Hi Wayne and Guy, tell us about ILX Group and your roles:
Wayne: ILX is a leading training company with three distinct pillars in its business model: products, training and consulting. We produce software products that provide new ways to deliver training and education for businesses. The training element of the business has a considerable 20 year legacy and started in the classroom, but we are converting more and more of the training courses into digital and online learning. There is no doubt that is where the future of the sector is heading. We also provide consulting to a number of corporate clients. Around 60% of our work is related to project management training, so our consulting offering reflects that expertise.
As Executive Chairman and acting Chief Executive, I have a number of direct reports and my main responsibility is the restructure of the business. I am doing a great deal of work renewing the ILX talent pool. It is vital for a successful business to have high quality staff and to foster a people orientated culture. I am also changing process in the business to make it more efficient and faster flowing. We are an international group, with offices in Australia, South Africa and several other countries. It is vital that these offices can communicate and work together effectively.
Guy: As Head of Mergers and Acquisitions, my goal is to make acquisitions that will enhance the value of ILX and encourage natural sustainable growth within the business. We have recently acquired Obrar, a consultancy and project management business and have also secured a 3 year option on Careshield, a training and e-learning company in the growing health and social care market. The core of my role is to identify businesses for their value and analyse how they could fit within the ILX group.
How has the economic recession impacted your business?
Wayne: I think people can be too quick to blame the economic environment for poor performance. We have a good revenue stream and have a client list of around 5000 companies that are using us to train their staff. There are many opportunities in the market for small and dynamic businesses to succeed, they just need a good product or service, a good sales strategy and they need to constantly look for ways to improve.
Guy: The current environment is difficult but is presenting ILX with opportunities. Many organisations are looking to retain and improve their assets, which often involves training staff. The environment for acquisitions is busy as struggling businesses are looking to partner with larger firms if they find they no longer have the capability they used to have.
What challenges are you facing over the next 12 months?
Wayne: Over the next year we are trying to develop organic growth and complete acquisitions. We are also developing more ways to increase sales and reduce our costs. The real challenge is maintaining a steady pace of growth while integrating our acquisitions into the business.
Guy: Wayne is absolutely right, ILX has to grow and we must be relentless with our focus. Every acquisition must add value and contribute to building a complete organisation that can operate effectively in many different areas.
Do you have any Non-Executive Directorships or consultancy / advisory roles?
Wayne: I have advisory roles on the boards of several private businesses.
Guy: I have to focus all my attention on my role at ILX!
Do you have any advice that you’d pass on to a newly appointed company director?
Wayne: Create a vision for your businesses and thoroughly understand what your goals should be. Analyse your business carefully, review where you are, where you want to be and how to get there. Focus sharply on your customer needs. Foster a people-centric culture to make sure staff are happy and productive. Most of all remember that you are a leader, so lead, don’t seclude yourself in your office away from your people.
Guy: When selling your business, there is often an emotional attachment to it. Try to be as objective as possible during the process and a step back from involvement if you have to. Good advice is essential, so get as much as you can. You should have built up a substantial network from running your business so make the most of it: you will find people that are happy to help you. Aim high and make sure all due diligence is completed perfectly.
What has been your experience of working with Moon Consulting?
Wayne: We have a great working relationship with Moon Consulting. They have proved to be very dynamic and able.
Guy: Moon Consulting are invaluable for finding staff that fit our organisation and business plans. They have provided a new Finance Director and Sales Director and will be working on other roles for us in the future. They work quickly and to a very high standard.