I never have to force myself to get up in the mornings
Scott recognised that he’d been given a chance early on in his career and wanted to ensure that others got the same opportunities.
Scott Vincent had a number of early set-backs. At age 11, his father died unexpectedly and injury forced him to abandon a successful rugby career and his dreams of turning professional. The ongoing need to support his family prevented him from finishing university.
However, he is quick to point out that he also had a lot of luck. He came to the UK at 21 from his native Australia, worried that a lack of degree would hamper his progress, but found Barclays willing to look beyond that, instead focussing on his aptitude and drive. Additionally, sport had left him with plenty of competitive instincts and an abundance of ambition, skills that Scott would subsequently leverage successfully throughout his career in investment banking.
After a decade in finance, Scott spotted an opportunity when the financial crisis hit and established Parker Fitzgerald, a specialist management consultancy, focussed on supporting clients respond to the burgeoning regulatory agenda.
The rise of Parker Fitzgerald was fast based on its practitioner led model and focus, quickly counting the world’s largest financial institutions, regulators and governments amongst its clients.
“I was very clear about the opportunity. Having worked at a senior level within Risk Management, I knew where the areas for improvement were and the changes that needed to be made. I had an inner belief that I could make it work. Plus, my wife was pregnant with our first child, so there was no option - I needed to succeed!”
He describes his approach as “building the plane as it flies”. “There were lots of challenging moments, however, your survival instincts kick in and you push through…it was tough to balance the need to generate revenue with keeping true to the strategy. However, once you have a number of clients, you can refine things, grow and the model becomes self-perpetuating. Once you are profitable, you have more headroom to reinvest brand, personnel and ultimately act more opportunistically.” The model worked, and Parker Fitzgerald built a reputation as the firm organisations would hire to solve their most complex risk management and regulatory issues.
He sold the business to Accenture in 2019, another piece of luck. His motivation for selling was personal - city life had taken a toll and he needed to reconnect with his family: “As the CEO of a large company, my focus was almost exclusively on clients. That meant long hours and a lot of entertaining. I had three children and I hadn’t seen them grow up. I agreed with my wife I was going to sell on a family holiday. We did not run a formal sales process, I simply had two conversations with the respective CEOs of our largest competitors resulting in two offers.
The timing was serendipitous. He sold just before the COVID-19 crisis hit and remains convinced that the business would have been significantly impacted by the crisis. “The bottom fell out of the market and a number of our projects were postponed. We had a very expensive work force and furlough would not have been an option.” He says he felt like the ‘luckiest person’ – “I was ready to close that chapter of my life. I stepped down as CEO leaving a considerable amount of money on the table, however, I’d done well and realised there’s more to life.”
After a month at a retreat in Switzerland to decompress and city life a distant memory, Scott Vincent 2.0 emerged, including a beard, several tattoos and a revived love for electronic music. It was at this point he came up with the concept of Digital Futures. “I’m used to reinventing myself, but this time round I want to be more authentic”. “Digital Futures is a very personal project for me, based around creating opportunity for others and creating a legacy I hope my family will be proud of”.
Digital Futures focuses on equipping individuals from all backgrounds with the right skills to start their career in technology. Scott recognised that he’d been given a chance early on in his career and wanted to ensure that others got the same opportunities. He points out that while talent is equally distributed, opportunity, often, is not.
“The impact of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the graduate market and driven youth unemployment to a record high – we want to do something about that” Scott says.
The group is in the process of launching technology academies across the UK, prioritising London, Manchester and Glasgow in 2021. Successful applicants undergo 12 weeks of immersive training and are then deployed into companies to further develop their skills and industry knowledge. “We are exclusively focused on improving diversity and social mobility” Scott says. “We look to identify hidden talent from non-traditional and low socioeconomic backgrounds, providing them with the opportunity to break through into sustainable employment”
Digital Futures has a second motivation: to accelerate the transition to a skills-based economy, aligned to the governments broader levelling up and jobs creation agenda, helping organisations build diverse technology teams, accessing the strongest talent wherever it emerges.
“No matter which industry, every organisation is accelerating their digital transformation strategy which in turn is creating a huge demand for new skills, in particular those relating to software engineering, data science and cloud computing”. “The need to rethink traditional talent strategies and recruitment models has never been greater” Scott says.
Central to Digital Futures strategy is their ability to attract their target demographic. “We continue to invest in our ecosystem of partners including universities, school academies, industry groups and special interest communities that drive application interest in Digital Futures”. “Additionally, we have focussed on the creation of specific social media campaigns and curated content to raise the brand profile of Digital Futures and our purpose within our target audience leveraging the analytical power of the major platforms” Scott says.
Upon proving the model in the UK, Scott plans to take it internationally and has assembled a world class team to do exactly that. There is a similar need in the US and it is a far bigger market.
Scott says he has learned a lot along the way. “The most important thing is to do your research, keep focussed and play to win. A great idea remains just that unless it is well planned and executed. For that you need an exceptional team who are motivated by your vision, aligned culturally and vested in the success of your mission”.
The second thing is to challenge the status quo and leverage technology. “We set Digital Futures up at the height of the pandemic, forcing us to reimagine our approach to building every aspect of our business”. “It was ultimately a gift, and has made us much more efficient and scalable as result”
With Digital Futures, Scott has found a new purpose: “Creating opportunities for people and seeing how we are able to change their lives – it’s very rewarding. Everyone is driven by the mission. I never have to force myself to get up in the morning.”
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