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Interview: Bob Bailkoski, CEO of Logicalis
The recently appointed chief executive of Logicalis, Bob Bailkoski, discusses coronavirus and his vision for the business
After five years at Logicalis, Bob Bailkoski got the chance to step into the CEO shoes at the start of March 2020.
His move to the top job coincided with the worst pandemic since the Spanish Flu of 1918, and that, understandably, has had an impact on his first few weeks in post. Under normal circumstances, a conversation with a chief executive a couple of months into the job would be dominated by talk about their plans and vision for the business.
Bailkoski has those, but for now, in the midst of the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak, the priority is to look after the welfare of the channel player’s staff across the globe and to best serve its customers.
“I took over the CEO position on 1 March. I have been with Logicalis for about five years in a number of different roles, but building up to the 1 March I was incredibly excited and looking forward to all the things I was planning to implement as chief executive. Within two weeks we had locked down our UK office, so we were in crisis mode almost immediately,” he says.
Bailkoski had planned to visit different geographical offices, attend sales kick-offs, enthuse staff across the organisation and meet with the executive team face-to-face, but none of those things have happened quite as planned because of the restrictions.
Those activities have instead taken place virtually, while the main focus of the past couple of months has been to keep staff safe across the global operations where Logicalis works. With some countries now beginning to exit lockdown and others, like the UK, planning to ease restrictions, there is a need to plan for the next stage.
“We have been looking forward and trying to understand the new normal, as we jump into that next period, which is coming pretty rapidly now around the world, and what that means for us as well,” says Bailkoski.
Because of the global nature of the business, some of the lessons being learnt now in Asia-Pacific are being passed on to other offices to help them prepare for the time when restrictions ease further.
This does not just involve looking after staff, but also convincing customers – particularly where Logicalis staff go on-site – that they can continue to deliver services safely.
Having worked at the company for the past five years proved to be a big advantage for Bailkoski, because it meant he already understood the business and was not coming into Logicalis cold.
“The key advantage I had was the relationships I had built up over the past four or five years. The fact I can’t meet with my executive team face-to-face has been a relatively low trouble aspect of my first 65 days as a leader of the organisation, because I know the team very well and know many of the 6,500 employees personally,” he says.
There will come a time when coronavirus is no longer dominating the agenda, and Bailkoski is keen to get started on his plans and act on his vision for the business.
“One of my key mantras is to leverage the presence of Logicalis globally by finding unique and differentiated services that exist on a local level and rolling them out globally”
Bob Bailkoski, Logicalis
“Logicalis is a global organisation, but we really need to leverage the strengths that a global business brings to the group. This time has demonstrated some of the benefits it brings to the group,” he says.
“I am particularly interested in picking out the best solutions and services that are implemented in a local region that aren’t necessarily global solutions that we offer across the group. One of my key mantras is to leverage the presence of Logicalis globally by finding unique and differentiated services that exist on a local level and rolling them out globally,” he adds.
It will make tweaks and take steps to make sure those programmes work globally and for verticals, but 80% of the completed offering will have started life as a local idea.
“That’s going to be a real feature of my tenure as chief executive,” says Bailkoski. “We do some amazing things across the Logicalis Group.”
Multinational customers are also looking for a joined-up organisation, and that will be the flagship strategy that Bailkoski starts to implement. Thinking globally will influence staff thinking, internal programmes, and mergers and acquisition activity.
He gives an example of a production-ready cloud initiative from its Australian operation that is now being rolled out globally to help customers move into a hosted environment quicker than most other options available on the market allow.
Thinking beyond coronavirus
The legacy of coronavirus is that digital transformation and rapid changes to established working practices have happened at a pace that has shown CIOs just what could be possible once the pandemic has passed.
Bailkoski has a number of further global initiatives lined up to follow in the wake of the production-ready cloud once the current situation has eased.
Bob Bailkoski, Logicalis
At the moment, the sales teams are busy getting through coronavirus and broadly following a two-pronged approach. First, customer engagement managers are responding to current needs with conversations that might involve credit terms and services that were promised before lockdown, and the personal touch is important.
Second, the firm is focusing on demand generation, promoting its thought leadership on a variety of technical and softer skills-based areas to get the message out that it is still open for business and can take on new customers.
Overall, the message from the recently installed Logicalis CEO is that this is a time to both plan for a future beyond Covid-19 and to make sure everyone gets through the current period.
Bailkoski and the senior executive team have taken salary cuts to be proactive in these challenging times, but he is also keen to sound a positive note about the prospects for the business.
“I genuinely believe that technology will be the thing that saves society going forward. I think we will see a real boost in technology going forward, with it being out at the forefront of government agendas around the world,” he says.
Time spent preparing
For Bob Bailkoski, the move to CEO came after a few years in different roles at Logicalis. He joined the business in November 2015 as chief financial officer, and was appointed chief operating officer in March 2018.
He has more than 15 years of international experience, and has lived and worked in Australia, Switzerland and the US.