What I've Learnt: Alister Harris, CEO, Lokulus
Macclesfield-based tech firm Lokulus, which creates AI and ML-powered software solutions for customer interaction management (CIM), celebrates its 20th year in business this year.
Lokulus operates from Alderley Park, and was known as Numero until its 2019 MBO. Its CEO, Alister Harris, was was at Lokulus in its previous guise until 2017, before spending time at TransUnion, where he was Head of Finance - Divestments.
He was involved in the buy-out alongside CCO and CTO Mark Chamberlain, at the time taking up the role of CFO and COO until moving into his current role last month.
Alister shared some of the valuable lessons he's been taught.
Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?
Ensuring I get out for a walk everyday to clear my mind and focus on what matters.
What's been your luckiest break?
I have had many lucky breaks in my time, but my most fortunate break must be being in the right place at the right time to acquire Lokulus, which has such a great team and customers.
What's your best failure?
When I left university I didn't get the job I wanted. This turn of events led to me training as an accountant in practice, which turned out to be a great foundation for my career.
What is the best investment you've ever made, either financial or time?
My best investment in time was my accountancy qualification - where over three hard years, I worked in a fast-paced, proactive environment while also finding time to study. I believe this experience was invaluable for developing the foundations of my skillset that enables me to achieve in my career.
Which book would you recommend others to read and why?
I love a good read so have read many books over the years, but I would say 'The Chimp Paradox' by Prof. Steve Peters was a great one for me. It helped me to understand myself, see how I react to situations and adjust my approach were needed. However, I do like reading Harry Potter to my kids - some stories just engage at all levels.
What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
Take the opportunities when they arise. When you are young with no commitments, what's the worst that can happen?
Also, start saving for a pension because whatever happens, you will want to be able to have the choice to retire or not.
Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?
In every job, I have learned from people. Some people are inspiring and I've been influenced to be like them, then there are others who I've made sure I don't operate like. It sounds soppy, but I think it is my wife who has always supported me, given me impartial advice and allowed me the time to achieve what I wanted to.
Tell us something about you that would surprise people.
The first album I brought was Kylie Minogue - Kylie, which contained such classics as I Should Be So Lucky and Locomotion. My 90s US rock self would be so embarrassed with Kylie sitting alongside Metallica
How will the COVID crisis change work for the better?
I'm not sure we're fully in a place to say what is better or worse due to COVID. I think it accelerated thinking on such things as remote working, how we conduct meetings, etc. - but one thing for sure is work has certainly changed.
At Lokulus, we already recognised that employees are people and have a life outside of work. We've always been adaptable in terms of “it's alright to want to drop your kids at school in the morning,” and “leave early in the evening to see friends,” - I don’t think the old way of working, where only time at your desk matters, will hold up with the country's workforce post-COVID.
What does success look like to you?
Success in work is all about achieving what I have set out to achieve, small or large. It could be nailing a new prospect pitch or Lokulus winning a Best Company Award. Work is only one part of my life - when I'm on my deathbed, I'll be happy if my family are happy and were given every opportunity to achieve what they wanted to do.