PM launches back-to-work drive, as Virtual1’s Tom O’Hagan emphasises the importance of innovation and disruption

Published by Leaders Council on September 15th 2020, 1:01pm

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is fronting a ‘media blitz’ to encourage workers to return to the office, with the hope that the civil service will take the lead with their own staff as an example to the rest of the country. Meanwhile, Tom O’Hagan, founder and CEO of the UK’s fifth-largest telecoms network, has spoken about the importance of disruption and innovation.

Leadership in Focus

For a company that is little over ten years old to be the fifth-largest in an industry with notoriously well-enforced barriers to entry, it is unsurprising that the founder and CEO of Virtual1 is a big proponent of disruption.

Writing in The Parliamentary Review, Tom O’Hagan declared that his company has ‘successfully executed our plan to disrupt the UK connectivity market.’ Virtual1 is now able to operate ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with the big four, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Vodafone and BT.

The rapidly-growing organisation, who recently completed the acquisition of PacketFront Software, got a foothold in the market by becoming the UK’s first aggregator of connectivity services, enabling businesses to quickly and simply compare the offerings of leading carriers. Central to this achievement was automation, which allowed customers to get quotes in ten minutes at any time of day or night.

From there, they invested in their own fibre network across London with a huge focus on new technologies, in particular software-defined networking (SDN). And in 2016, they received a cash injection of £10 million from the British Growth Fund, which enabled them to accelerate their growth.

The key to the success seems to be a relentless drive to see every problem as an opportunity. It was precisely the flaws within the carrier market that showed Virtual1 exactly what they needed to do. As O’Hagan puts it, ‘with a famously slow-moving market, the best way to drive innovation was to do it ourselves.’

In the current climate, O’Hagan’s words may well provide valuable advice. Hidden among the many problems the pandemic has thrown up, there will be a great deal of opportunities.

Leadership Today

The Daily Telegraph reports today on the prime minister’s drive to encourage people back to the office, which will include a number of paid-for newspaper articles with leading executives.

The plans have received criticism from Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association, who told Sky News, ‘Where people are perfectly able to work from home, we should not be encouraging people to go out and mix more. They should be encouraged to be able to work without mixing.’

The prime minister’s plans also seem to be slightly at odds with the new limits on gatherings of six people, with home secretary Priti Patel telling the BBC’s Today programme that the legislation does prohibit two groups of four people talking to each other, even in an outdoor setting such as a park.

‘Mingling is people coming together. That is my definition of mingling,’ she said.

Leadership in History

15th September is quite a bumper day in the history of leadership.

On this day in 1835, HMS Beagle reached the Galapagos Islands with a certain Mr Charles Darwin onboard.

In 1928, Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin.

And in 1997, google.com was registered as a domain name. 


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Leaders Council
Of Great Britain & Northen Ireland
September 15th 2020, 1:01pm

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