Chris Mason wasn’t always interested in tech. But after being involved in an Oracle project as an end-user in 2005, Chris knew he wanted to get involved. Chris went on to found Namos Solutions in 2012. His vision was to bring fair value to the Oracle marketplace, to disrupt some of the larger competitors, and have fun.
Since founding Namos the company has seen significant growth and had some exceptional achievements such as being placed 28th on the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to work for. Yet, Chris outlines hiring his first full-time employee, opening their London office, winning their first cloud project, and launching the Namos associate scheme within his proudest moments.
Chris has big plans for the next five years: to have over 1000 employees and sustained growth in our four territories (US, UK, Europe, APAC). But amidst these growth ambitions, one essential element remains at the heart of his ethos and vision for the company; to be ‘big enough to deliver and small enough to care’.
Chris’ personal mantra is, ‘It's progression not perfection' and he shares this self pep talk on a regular basis with his Namos Solutions team. (Chris says they are probably sick of it by now – but everyone is too nice to tell him to shut up!). When mistakes are made, it's this mantra that Chris comes back to.
"No one is perfect and we often make mistakes and really, we’ll never stop. The key is to acknowledge them, accept them and then learn from them", he says.
Having a business mentor does help to avoid some mistakes. Although Chris has had lots of role models across various industries, he credits his first non-executive director, Jim Muir as having a huge influence on Namos and his own CEO behaviors.
When it comes to giving advice to those contemplating a career in tech or thinking about retraining in tech after a military career Chris says to start off with doing your research. Talk to companies you’re interested in working with/for – companies should be willing to talk to you about roles and what it’s like to work for them. But most importantly he advises veterans to just jump in and do it!
Nearly 12 months ago Namos launched their veteran’s recruitment program. It all started with a familial link. Chris’ brother Nick joined the British Army in 2005 and served in 16 Royal Artillery Regiment. Chris had heard that many of Nick’s friends and others joining ‘civvy street’ wanted to get into tech and upskill. He saw this as an opportunity to meet the needs of his skills gap and decided to pursue the hiring of ex-military personnel as a natural next step.
Currently, Namos have five veterans working for them from two separate cohorts. The first two, Chad and Bill joined in early 2021. They are now consultants working independently on projects. Three further veterans joined in November 2021 and have just completed initial training. They are about to start on project work under supervision. Chris has been immensely impressed with their incredible work ethic and ‘can do’ attitude. "They give 100% to everything that they do and bring a special life experience which should never be underestimated", Chris adds.
Chris says that it is vitally important for employers to sign up to the Armed Forces Covenant and make use of the veteran workforce.
"These are highly trained individuals who have put their lives on the for us – the least we can do as a society is support them when they leave military life. While it is a great opportunity for veterans, the impact on companies should not be underestimated". Chris says that the veterans he's hired are some of the best employees that Namos Solutions has.
Going forward, Chris can see the Namos Solutions veterans programme going from strength to strength and they are currently in discussions with TechVets to launch a Spring cohort. Namos Solutions don’t see the skills shortage in the UK going away anytime soon – so in their eyes training people who want to work in the industry is the best way to close this gap.
Beyond just Namos Solutions, Chris believes that there are a number of actions that governments, companies, and institutions can take to improve inclusion and opportunities to bridge the UK tech skills gap. These include full acceptance that a degree does not make you smart or employable. Also, more emphasis on apprenticeships and training programs.
"Training is key – companies need to take onboard that no matter who you are, training is what helps to make people good employees and companies need the culture and acceptance that training is what they need to provide. Anyone can be trained to do something if they want to and are given the time to do it", says Chris. Additionally, he believes that governments need to give training grants to organisations to give them the allowance to provide this time for training, especially as people will not be even 50% productive in the first few weeks or months.
Ultimately it is a person’s attitude and having an open and accepting company culture that is key to being employable and a good employer.
Quick fact on Chris Mason:
"I’m currently reading ‘Own your culture’ by Bretton Putter, but like a variety of different books. I love to listen to audiobooks by Ant Middleton and recently saw his ‘Mind over matter’ series in Brighton. I would say my favorite podcast series is ‘The High-Performance Podcast’ with Jake Humphrey and Professor Damian Hughes."