Investors in People – Tom Baptie


August 5th, 2022


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Vesta Software Group

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Vesta Investors in People Tom Baptie

In the next feature of our Investors in People series, we caught up with Vesta’s Chief Operations Officer, Tom Baptie, to get an insight into his journey since joining the group in 2016. He also shares what he enjoys most about his role and some advice for anyone looking to progress in their career or business.

Tom Baptie Investors in People

How did your journey with the group begin?

I joined the group following 5 years working for Compass Group UK and Ireland, the largest contract foodservice company in the world. As regional Contract Finance Manager at Compass, I was responsible for the finances of the military contracts up and down the UK. It was a very commercially-focused finance role and, whilst this is an area I enjoyed, I wanted a broader exposure to all areas of the world of finance. Hence my switch to join the group!

Tom Baptie Group Journey

What does a typical day look like for you?

In short, there isn’t a typical day! My job is very varied and that’s what I love about it. In our world, ‘change’ needs to be embraced as we are constantly changing and evolving, and I thrive in that kind of environment.

One day, I could be jetting off to Uruguay to help integrate a new acquisition, the next I’ll be delivering training to the group, working on an internal process or control with the team, or simply making coffees in the office when the team need a boost!

My overarching focus though (along with Group CEO, Richard Clancy), is long-term strategy and how we scale our central operations to service our inevitable vast growth.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

100% it’s the people – my team are awesome. I’ve never worked with such a hardworking, innovative and passionate bunch of people who also make work fun, and for me, that has to be a key ingredient. Little things go a long way and we try to create an environment where people enjoy coming to work. The people in my team inspire me each and every day. We’re more like a family – dysfunctional, yes – but would do anything for each other.

Watching people develop and grow gives me the most pleasure in my role, with many of those in my team in different roles today than what they were when they joined us. That is the beauty of an acquisitive growth organization, you really can offer opportunities to the right people.

Secondary to people is autonomy; I get freedom (within reason) to run my functions and I like to pass this autonomy down to the team also. In doing so, people who are smarter than me can get creative and make change for the benefit of our group and beyond.

Is there a part of your role you find challenging?

All of it! The things I find challenging (and sometimes stressful) are the same reasons I get out of bed in the morning. However, I have a fantastic team and great people around me, so challenges are often easy to overcome.

Have you been offered learning and development opportunities?

Absolutely. There is a vast central library of training courses to complete in a whole host of areas that my team and I utilise. On top of this, I’m very proud that my team do a lot of internal training to keep them, and sometimes the businesses, educated in key areas. One example is our full calendar of ‘Lunch and Learns’ which we run within the portfolio – we pay for lunch and people learn whilst they eat!

There are also plenty of conferences across the wider group that we attend, such as the annual Finance Summit and Jonas Leadership Conference, where best practice sharing is particularly key.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to progress in their career or business?

I think I stole this from Jeff MacKinnon (Jonas Software CFO), but it’s something I truly believe: “We can’t control many things that impact us, but we can control the attitude we bring to the party!”

When my team and I are hiring, we clearly look for experience, skillset, qualifications and all the usual elements; however, what we try to gauge quickly is attitude because, in our opinion, most things can be taught to someone who has the right attitude.

Other advice I would offer is to ask lots of questions to as many people as you can, particularly to understand the roles of others and how you impact them. Learn as much as you can from as many as you can.

Deploy a strong work ethic. I feel that you really do get out what you put in.

Finally, if you progress to management level, make sure to surround yourself with smart, innovative people who also have all of the above!

What books or podcasts would you recommend?

Unlike many others answering this question, I don’t listen to or read anything too intellectual or business centric. Diary Of A CEO podcast aside (which is great, by the way), I mainly listen to and read things linked to areas I’m passionate about and help me relax away from work.

So, anything sport is on the agenda for me, albeit I quite like books that are inspiring and about driven individuals. Michael Jordan’s autobiography and Shoe Dog, which is about Phil Knight, the man who created Nike.