Our April lunch speaker began by saying “ I don’t do this very often” he was of course referring to the onerous experience of standing in front of a group of his peers and talking about why his company is so successful. The company is hugely successful and Dean Benson, CEO of Visualsoft is wonderfully humble about his achievements.
So with the audience already in the palm of his hand because he has told us how much he does not like doing these things Dean Benson began to tell us his story.
It begins as a child when a will to beat his siblings led to Dean effectively decoding the early computer games and re-writing them to work to his own advantage.
A lifelong love of tech began; Dean had little interest in school and a low attention span for traditional academia but an ever-increasing appetite for knowledge in the rapidly evolving world of computers.
His first paid part time job was collecting trolleys for a supermarket, inglorious and a world away from tech, until the store manager needed help with a computer issue. Dean stepped in to help, became absorbed and transformed the store Managers business tools, he stopped pushing trolleys.
This was an important first lesson for Dean illustrating how his knowledge could fit with a business model but it was too soon for him to act on it. Instead he did what he thought he should do and went to college to do A levels, on the first day he knew he was in the wrong place and walked to the technical college to enrol on a Btech in computing.
Even at this stage Dean had a unique talent and not content to sit back and be taught he used his skills to skip printer queues, secure free entry into clubs and work on a project in AI at the wrong university whilst on placement in Czechoslovakia for three months, all impressive and for a young lad it equalled a whole lot of fun.
Google was founded in September 1998 and Visualsoft was founded in October 1998, the timing was perfect, the internet was taking off in a way no one could have imagined and Dean knew that setting up his own company was the best way for him to work in the sector he loved.
It was a brave move straight out of university, Dean has not looked back.
In the early days of Visualsoft there was more high japes, more fun with technology, more challenging the Internet and more and more success. The story Dean told the room was full of genuinely laugh out loud stories but it was also a story of dedication and commitment. Visualsoft led by Dean has stayed true to its core business model and that is ultimately what has generated success in an increasingly challenging tech sector.
So the company created in 1998 is now 20 years old and employs over 300 people with offices in Stockton, Newcastle, Manchester and Dubai.
Visualsoft is a great place to work, people are and always have been important to Dean because without them as he said, “ It would just be computers in a room”
The work life balance at Visualsoft is promoted via flexi work-time and the practice of unlimited holidays, both may have been HR nightmares but they make a real difference to staff retention, employee satisfaction and ultimately the bottom line.
Dean has not been content to just push boundaries in the workplace, in 2010 he signed up to do an Iron Man challenge, but he couldn’t swim, had never run and definitely did now own the right kind of bike. Major lifestyle changes were implemented and with 100% dedication he completed the challenge.
This committed approach to whatever challenge Dean takes on is what has driven the success of Visualsoft; it is the ethos of the man behind the company, it is inspiring and remarkable.
Closing by talking about the future of Visualsoft and his commitment to nurturing tech skills and creating a skills academy in the region there is clearly a lot more to come.
Dean may have been a reluctant speaker, but he was a very good one, he shared an honest account of his own business journey and the importance of investing in the next generation. Let’s hope we can persuade him to talk again, the next step in this story is also going to be inspiring.
Next Tees Valley event Wednesday 1st May with Fred Howie – click here to book
Next Newcastle event Monday 20th May with Nevil Tynemouth – click here to book
Jesmond Dene House
Garry Sheriff is Managing Director at ITPS the business launched in 2000 and specialises in IT consultancy, implementation and support, in 2014 the company signed […]VIEW EVENT