Steve Wallbanks recently joined Bell as COO. From Birmingham to South Africa, Steve has a lot of experience to offer; we caught up with him to find out what his goals are at Bell and what keeps him motivated…
What are your personal goals in your role as COO?
In my role as COO, my personal goals are intertwined with the growth and success of Bell. I am committed to upholding our esteemed position in the market by continuously fostering innovation and adaptability. I am driven to explore new market sectors, particularly the vital arena of environmental decarbonisation, where our influence can pave the way for positive change.
My aspiration is to be a disruptor in the markets we operate in, challenging conventional norms and redefining industry standards. In the dynamic landscape of today, my focus is resolutely on the development of our colleagues, equipping them to navigate an ever-evolving world. Over the next five years, we aim to double the size of our workforce, a testament to our commitment to growth and the creation of opportunities.
At the heart of these aspirations is the dedication to maintaining profitable growth, a cornerstone that allows us to invest in the future. While steering the company towards these ambitious goals, I hold the origin and ethos of the group close, ensuring that our journey forward is rooted in the principles that have brought us here. Preserving our distinctive company culture throughout this transformational journey, as it is the compass guiding us towards collective achievement and sustained success.
How do you like to spend your down time?
My story is one of outdoor escapades, and a fascination with technology. From the rush of a rugby game, the intensity of cricket, long bike races in +-35-degree heat to the inner workings of technology, my journey is one of diverse interests. Rugby, including Rugby 7’s, and cricket have always held a special place in my heart. They’re not just games; they’re my way of connecting with the essence of competition and teamwork.
My up bringing in Birmingham UK to my transition in my twenties to South Africa exposed me to the wonders of the great outdoors. Weekends weren’t just days on the calendar; they were opportunities for exhilarating rugby games, intense cricket matches, then comes the 94.7km cycle race, which my wife still brags about how she beat me (She was a spinning instructor which she forgets to mention).
The sunny days of South Africa created memories with family and friends. These outdoor pursuits not only kept us physically active but also forged unbreakable bonds through shared experiences, followed with a South African Braai (BBQ) and the odd beer. Returning to the UK some five years ago we carry on with these activities, but the waterproofs are always close to hand, soccer is slowly but surely coming back on the radar after many years of lost interest, mainly due to being a Birmingham City supporter, we don’t have a lot to shout about; but who knows with the new ownership. (Will hold onto that dream)
Technology has always intrigued me – the way it interacts with our lives, the endless possibilities it offers. My fascination with gadgets and discovering their inner workings, breaking the odd thing along the way, my journey has been one of blending innovation with a love for the outdoors.
Engaging my children in outdoor adventures from Rugby, Soccer, Netball, Athletics, Water skiing, cycling, cricket, I could go on forever, has been a rewarding experience, passing down not just the joy of sports and exploration, but also the art of seamlessly merging interests and building that family bond which can never be underestimated, you only have one shot at it, sorry to say we cannot turn back the clock.
Which sports person (past or present) do you aspire to be like and why?
If I were a sports person, embodying the spirit of Gordon Banks, the legendary England goalkeeper. Showing my age, a little, but I can always remember a Sunday night when England played Brazil on a state of the art Black & White TV with my dad and grandad, of course we lost, but Banksie never gave up.
Gordon Banks wasn’t just a remarkable player in terms of his goalkeeping skills, he was also a true team player and a source of motivation for his teammates.
His ability to rally the team and boost their morale was second to none. What made Banksie an extraordinary individual was his resilience and determination. Despite facing adversity, including a serious car accident, he never gave up.
His unwavering commitment to his passion and his refusal to be defeated by life’s challenges set him apart. Banksie demonstrated not only exceptional abilities but also qualities of leadership, camaraderie, and an indomitable spirit that inspired everyone around him.
Hopefully during my career to date and moving forward with Bell I have embraced these attributes and strive to continue to live up to these high standards set by Banksie.
What do you think are the most important aspects of our company culture?
I have been with the company just over two weeks and there are several areas that really stand out which confirms that I made the right choice joining a progressive company like Bell.
You can never underestimate the true value of teamwork and collaboration, encouraging teamwork and collaboration fosters a sense of camaraderie. Where we feel valued as part of a team, it helps us cohesively where we support each other. Transparent and open communication builds trust among ourselves, where information flows freely and ideas are welcomed, we all feel more engaged and connected to the company’s goals.
We drive a diversity and inclusion environment where all employees feel respected and empowered which we can never lose sight off.
Last but not least is our social responsibility initiatives, such as community involvement and environmental sustainability, fostering a culture that values making a positive impact beyond just business goals. I have worked in a few organisations that talk this language but don’t walk the talk. Wow Bell, what a story we already have, let’s carry on making a positive impact on whoever we touch as an organisation.
Top of Form
As Chief Operating Officer how will you maintain that company culture?
Maintaining a robust and positive company culture as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) entails a holistic approach, encompassing strategic planning, effective communication, and leading by example. To achieve this, I will champion the company’s core values and mission, ensuring they resonate across the organisation. My commitment to transparent and open communication will foster an environment where every voice is valued, encouraged through regular interactions and avenues for feedback.
Empowering teams to excel through growth opportunities and ownership of their endeavours is central, reflecting a culture of continuous improvement. Embracing diversity and inclusion is a mere slogan but a fundamental aspect of our operations, amplified through diverse hiring practices and an atmosphere of respect. Recognising and celebrating achievements will bolster morale, reinforcing the significance of individual and collective successes. I will nurture a collaborative environment that transcends departmental boundaries, embodying the spirit of teamwork. Leading by example, with empathy, respect, and diligence, would resonate throughout the organisation. Celebrating milestones, be they personal or organisational, fortifying unity and shared purpose.
By embracing these principles—values, communication, development, inclusivity—I am committed to cultivating a thriving company culture that propels our collective triumphs and enduring success.
What motivates you?
What truly motivates me is a blend of factors that extend beyond personal achievements. I find immense satisfaction in contributing to the development of my colleagues. Witnessing their growth and progress brings a sense of fulfilment that goes beyond individual accomplishments.
Equally compelling is the pursuit of delivering a quality product that we can stand behind with pride. Knowing that our efforts translate into something valuable and impactful for our clients and partners is a driving force that pushes me to excel. Moreover, I am deeply driven by the vision of nurturing a sustainable future for our business and the individuals within it.
This involves making strategic decisions that not only yield profitability but also pave the way for lasting prosperity. I firmly believe that profitability is not something to shy away from; rather, it is the cornerstone of our ability to invest in innovations and opportunities that benefit the collective. This holistic approach, where professional development, quality output, sustainability, and profitability intersect, fuels my passion to our shared success.