MBA Entrepreneurship Club – Version 1

L-R - Sumit Chopra, Justin Keatinge, Conor Mc Mahon
L-R – Sumit Chopra, Justin Keatinge, Conor Mc Mahon

On Monday evening, the Entrepreneurship Club were lucky enough to have Justin Keatinge of Version 1 as our guest speaker. In short, Version 1 are an IT services company with €75m in revenue and Justin is the current CEO. Justin and his co-founder John Mullen established the company from home in 1996, took on their first employee and moved into an actual office in 1998. They have never looked back since, now employing over 700 people in Ireland and the UK.

Not being an IT person or all that technologically savvy, I had reservations over my interest levels prior to the event, just another tech guy speaking tech guff I thought. To my surprise, the theme of the presentation focussed on the values and principles the organisation holds sacrosanct, the growth strategy of the company and the balance required for a company to achieve such growth.

Justin began the presentation by engaging with the attendees and asking us to tell him what we hoped to get out of the night. He wrote down each of the topics we were interested in and promised to address all as best he could. I felt that this was an interesting approach, instead of rattling off a pre-rehearsed presentation, he actually cared about meeting our expectations and addressing our interests.

Version 1 have six core values which they live and die by. For the most part they are standard enough, ones you would hope to see in all medium to large organisations; honesty and integrity, excellence, drive, blah, blah, blah. What sets Version 1 apart is the fact that they really, truly believe in these values. They recruit based on them and assess employee performance against the values on a quarterly basis. Never before have I heard of a company assessing against these quarterly, they consume so many resources and costs that companies generally are not willing to dedicate. Investing in quarterly reviews shows the commitment that Version 1 have to its values. One value which I hadn’t seen in any other company was ‘No Ego’. I would think Justin scores highly in this section of his own review every quarter, he appears devoid of an ego which is an admirable quality in someone who has achieved so much.

All in all, it was an excellent night and provided valuable food for thought. Feedback from attendees ranged from ‘excellent’, ‘the best presentation of the year’, ‘thoroughly engaging’ to ‘very long’. I guess you can’t please everyone all of the time, eh Sid?

Conor Mc Mahon ~ Full-Time MBA