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Talking Strategy with the Billion Dollar Man…. Martin Summerhayes, Fujitsu

Jul 30 • Features, Interview, Management • 3330 Views • Comments Off on Talking Strategy with the Billion Dollar Man…. Martin Summerhayes, Fujitsu

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In part one of this exclusive two part interview Field Service News Editor, Kris Oldland talks to Martin Summerhayes of Fujitsu, about his spending over two decades as a pioneer in the field service industry… 

There are a number of key people who have been there and done it in field service. Professionals who have dedicated there lives to service, who have an inherent understanding of what it means to put the customer at the heart of the business strategy, and what it takes to develop a successful service division on an enterprise scale.

And then there is Martin Summerhayes.

A day before our interview I was able to witness Martin give a presentation at the recent Service Community event. In the half hour during which he spoke he gave the impression not only of a man that had a very firm understanding of the whole picture is in terms of service delivery, but also a man who had gained that understanding by paying attention to the minutiae of every aspect of the process.

However, after speaking to him one on one at some length a day later, it was clear that we had only just scratched the surface of Summerhayes’ depth of understanding of the industry in which he operates, as well as his passion for getting it right.

In terms of his entry into the world of field service Summerhayes, like many of his peers took a fairly straightforward path into the system. Having graduated from university in London in the late 80’s he joined HP as a field engineer on a graduate scheme working in their volume repair business.  As he puts it himself “You started as a man with a van and progressed from there”

And perhaps here is a glimpse at what makes Summerhayes such a fascinating subject for interview or indeed just someone to have a conversation with. Whilst announcing what was a really quite an extraordinary achievement, he makes it sound as if it was essentially a logical development that anybody else could have made

Summerhayes himself ending up doing so rapidly and was soon not just progressing at HP, but was changing the way the business operated.

“My boss asked me to come up with some ideas for generating service revenue” he began as I asked him to describe his path from service engineer to service manager

“I came up with what I called the ten million dollar opportunity, which was literally sold up front. We offered a multi year extended warranty on the HP printers and PCs that we were selling in the UK, this would provide HP with an incremental ten million dollars worth of revenue. It was called the HP support pack business and when I left HP was generating over a billion dollars of revenue per anum.”

And perhaps here is a glimpse at what makes Summerhayes such a fascinating subject for interview or indeed just someone to have a conversation with. Whilst announcing what was a really quite an extraordinary achievement, he makes it sound as if  it was essentially a logical development that anybody else could have made

This of course isn’t true, to create a billion dollar business in any industry takes vision by the bucket load and to do it in a fledgling IT service industry even more so, but the touch of humility he shows when outlining his achievements, and an almost a blasé outlook on such a success, hints at an impression of a man who is almost certainly quite an inspiration to both his peers and his team alike.

In total Summerhayes spent nearly 20 years working with HP, having risen up the ranks from the “Man with a Van” to being at differing points responsible for 450 engineers, developing new programmes within the company to change their processes, to being heavily involved in overseeing the merger with Compaq (which actually also included absorbing Digital Equipment Corporation and Cabletron into the HP structure as well). Eventually he was asked to move to Texas as part of a management restructure, which Summerhayes declined and the HP chapter of his career came to an end.

He then took a decidedly left-field step in his career and took up a role with the Metropolitan Police Force. Spending two years with the ‘Met’ which he describes as “a mix of secret military, local government bureaucracy gone mad and IT” where the culture was one of “meetings, about meetings about meetings” Summerhayes eventually returned to the more familiar corporate environment with Fujitsu where he has been for the past six years.

Here in his roles as Head of Strategy and Business Development he now works directly with the firms fourteen largest accounts in the UK, working with them to establish margin and service improvement opportunities. (Last year alone he was able to deliver over two million pounds of margin improvements.)

Look out for part two of this feature coming soon where we look at Summerhayes’ biggest frustrations in field service today as well as what makes him go home smiling after a long day… 

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