E24 - Richard Alexander at Benartie

George Barnes
Richard Alexander

By George Barnes & Richard Alexander

On our 24th episode of The Route to Networking, our Co-Founder and host, George Barnes invited Richard Alexander, the Founder & Director of Benartie Limited to the show. They cover everything from his first job in the Networking space to when he came up with the idea of Benartie and some of the common challenges his customers are facing now.

After coming out of university and finishing his second degree in Economics and Finance, Richard jumped into a role back in South Africa with the mindset of just wanting to get on the corporate ladder. He eventually ended up in his first IT role at a place called Maxipress Tyres, which was a family friend’s business. He was busy installing a point of sales system as they needed help getting the system installed across the country. This is where his love for IT began, and he never wanted to look back from that point forward.

Richard relocated to the UK in 2006 and his first job was for the Bank of New York. They were looking for Network Engineers at the entry level, which his friends that worked there at the time encouraged him into. “I’m a fundamental believer in university degrees, in particular, it’s less about what you do and more about the process of learning to learn.”

The industry is constantly evolving, but what stands out for Richard the most is Cloud. Very few customers are interested in wholesale premises infrastructure anymore. The way people pay for IT, moving from CapEx to OpEx. But the cloud is changing the space; you’ll always need Network Engineers but the way they work will shift and we will start seeing controlled-based systems and essentially it will become easier for them to work.

More on the Benartie…

Established in 2018, they offer to consult around digital transformation. Moving away from Networking Security and being very infrastructure-focused, although he still leads very much on the architectural side. They have had great success with providing free internet for schools, university placements and IT skills training for the elderly in local areas.

Eventually, he would like to move into lecturing once the business is fully established and teach kids to understand their career paths and where the opportunities are.

Some of the challenges customers are talking to them about currently are service management. It’s been a real challenge for a lot of organisations. Operating models that surround IT are immature if they exist at all. So, a lot of work is being put in with the number of customers, again around understanding the state of infrastructure and then surrounding processes of the organisation.

They are making sure the people, the process, the 3rd party organisation and internal the organisation suit the nature of the environment. Closely link to the creation and follow through of the IT strategy and help organisations understand the current state of the market.

Richard talks through the biggest Networking disaster he’s faced since being in the industry. While working for the Bank of New York, they had a team coming to do some of the cabling upgrades. One of the guys in the cabinets tripped over exposed power cords and knocked out the call for the banks’ network. Ultimately ended up taking 36 hours trying to get it back up and running and if it wasn’t up and running by 8 am on the following Monday, it would mean there would be no business by Tuesday.

Richard gives his pearls of wisdom to equip anybody for the future… Make sure you tune in to find out what they are!