Getting to know Paul Orange

Our meet the team blog series highlights the amazing people behind Xalient. This week we met with one of our Solutions Architects, Paul Orange, to learn a little more about him and his role at Xalient.

To kick things off, could you tell us about your career background and current role at Xalient? 

I left university and started working at the Co-Op in Manchester analysing utility bills for the Co-Op estates. This led me to a different job as a telecoms analyst at another company before I started to work for ‘Thus’ in Scotland as part of the telecoms and networking pricing team. Thus was purchased by Cable and Wireless (now part of Vodafone), and I took a job there as a Trainee Sales Engineer. From there, I went to Orange Business Services via a few years at Global Crossing (which became Level 3, now part of Lumen). I was at OBS for ten years.

I’m a Solutions Architect here at Xalient, it’s a home-based role, but I enjoy coming into the Leeds office.

What is it that attracted you to Xalient? 

Having come from a huge Tier 1 global network and telecoms provider, I like that Xalient is a young, agile company. I see being ‘born in the cloud’ as a significant benefit when competing against some legacy providers in the market. We don’t have old infrastructure, such as an MPLS network, to keep supporting and paying for.

What’s the first thing you do when you start your working day?

Coffee and porridge. Check my diary to see what the day has in store. Stop the kids fighting. I might try and go for a run or cycle if it’s dry and I’m in the right mood.

And what does a day in life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent work day?

If I’m working on a live bid, my day will include:

  • Scoping and creating a Bill of Materials (BOM) for the prospective customer.
  • Completing RFP response questions.
  • Joining bid team calls.
  • Preparing internal sign-off documentation.

Once a bid is ‘won,’ I’ll work on Statement of Work (SoW) docs. Plus, there’s constantly training to do. I’m currently working towards the CISSP qualification.

How would your colleagues describe you?

I don’t know – you’ll have to ask them 😊

What do you like most about your job?

The best thing about this job is how varied the role is – I get to work on different opportunities, each unique. It’s essential to keep on top of technical developments, and training is key.

What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing this? 

Honestly, not got a clue! 

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I’m a season card holder at Manchester City, so every other weekend, I’m at the Etihad Stadium plus, I try and get to as many away games as I can. I also enjoy mountain biking and try to get out on my bike a few times 

a week.

In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits that have changed your life?

I’ve been trying to reduce my carbon footprint by travelling less by car – with my old role, I was away a lot flying and driving, so I’m glad that has reduced. 

Are there any products, gadgets, or apps you can’t live without?

I use a great app – ‘Komoot’ – for finding and following cycle trails and routes – I’d be (literally) lost without it.

Who/what inspires you (work, personal or historical)?

I always looked up to my Grandad – he fought for his country in the 2nd most dangerous role in the second world war – he was a pilot in bomber command (most dangerous: submariner on a U-boat). He worked hard so his family could have a good life, was great fun to be around, was always positive, and was a great human.

What’s a fun fact about you many people might not know?

My dad has a racehorse named after him (Mr Orange).

How does Identity and Access fit into the Zero Trust Framework?

Identity and Access is a vital component of Zero Trust. It is crucial to securing business data, keeping customers confident and employees protected. Any high-level security model really breaks down into a trust issue: Who and what can I trust? – the employee, the devices, and the applications the employee is trying to connect to. In the middle is the network but today, the corporate backbone is the internet. Identity is the fundamental feature in controlling who has access to your company data, from where and using what device.

With Zero Trust, we assume everything on the internet holds risk, and that no user or application should be trusted regardless of whether the person or entity is “inside” or “outside” an organisation’s perimeter. Instead, we must continuously and rigorously verify anything and everything before granting access.

Most organisations have some sort of Identity solution – especially with cybercrime escalating, and a record-breaking number of data breaches of increasing sophistication and severity taking place year-on-year.

Organisations with less sophisticated tools, or who are not making full use of their solution i.e., only implementing a Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) or just utilising basic credentials to access a VPN (Virtual Private Network), represent a significant percentage of victims targeted, especially during the pandemic. As a consequence, the Zero Trust model has quickly become a fundamental security requirement rather than a ‘nice-to-have’.

One would expect this to be high on the list of priorities for an organisation that has a vastly distributed workforce. The company may have accumulated many tools that do the same thing – VPN clients, Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), Antivirus and Remote Access etc. -and, as a result, has identified a gap in their security posture and policy.  Xalient’s Identity and Access module consolidates and manages these tools so that the user at the start of the journey has the correct experience from the get-go. Furthermore, the framework utilises identity verification, authentication factors, authorisation controls, as well as other IDAM and cybersecurity capabilities to verify a user before any level of trust is awarded.

Organisations are looking for a secure solution for their applications, devices, and their users, which is why the Zero Trust model becomes a fundamental component, regardless of where they are located.

The shift to remote working

With remote and hybrid working now commonplace, there has been a mass migration away from the secure perimeter, which has put more emphasis on consumption of cloud services. The concept of trying to extend the secure perimeter to the location of the user and the application means businesses must be ready to implement Zero Trust for all types of users, not only employees but partners, contractors, and customers too.

At the same time, organisations need to harness the power of applications. They need to be highly productive with fast and easy access to the applications they need to do their job. This is not only essential but is fundamental to becoming a modern digitised business. To enable this environment, businesses need reliable network access from the edge to the core and security that is based on a Zero Trust framework to ensure robust, efficient, and secure access to essential business applications from wherever the employees and/or users are located.

What does Xalient’s Identity and Access Module Encompass?

As part of Xalient’s Zero Trust Framework, the Identity and Access module supports both remote and branch / on-prem cloud and cross-domain technology. The module is focused on providing solutions to the questions of trust, specifically user, device and location. We offer a consultative approach drawing on significant technology expertise and experience, with a world-class Managed Services offering. Our dedicated team are experienced with industry leading IDAM, EDR and NAC (Network Access Control) solution vendors, and have the skills required to design, build, and manage your global Identity and Access Management solution for you. Our certified consultants and administrators can advise on how you can ensure only the right people access your network, but also do so efficiently and securely, wherever they are in the world.

Xalient, a rapidly growing, global specialist in networking and cybersecurity services, announced today that it was ranked 40th in the prestigious Sunday Times Hundred list for 2022, which recognises Britain’s fastest-growing private companies.

In producing the rankings, the Sunday Times aimed to identify independent companies with sustained growth, that are profitable, have been creating jobs, and that show every sign of continuing to grow. You can view the full list here.

The list order and placement was numerically-driven, with companies listed in order of their compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in sales over the last two financial years.

Xalient also ranked in the top ten of women-founded businesses, where the challenges facing female founders in securing scale-up funding was highlighted.

Xalient CEO and Founder, Sherry Vaswani, said: “We’re very proud to be featured by the Sunday Times in this prestigious list. It’s been a whirlwind journey since founding Xalient, and these last couple of years in particular, we’ve achieved outstanding success and growth, at a time of widespread uncertainty and unique challenges. I’m also proud to see us represent tech companies and women-led companies, both of which form small segments within the list, and the latter an area I’m very passionate about championing.”

This recognition continues a hot streak of accolades for Xalient, having only last week been named in the FEBE Growth 100, as well as being listed in the 2022 Financial Times’ FT EUROPE 1,000 and Dun and Bradstreet’s inaugural 2021 D&B 50.

Xalient, a rapidly growing, global specialist in networking and cybersecurity proudly announced today that it has ranked in 19th place in the inaugural FEBE Growth 100 list, which champion’s Britain’s fastest-growing, founder-led private companies, celebrating true entrepreneurship, with some of the UK’s most impressive founders, inspiring the next generation of business leaders amidst a backdrop of cliché corporate awards.

The FEBE Growth 100, co-founded by Charlotte Quince and John Maffioli, was born out of a desire to reinstate the true meaning of entrepreneurship, by focusing on the founders behind incredible businesses, as well as a frustration with current corporate business awards and lists, which they consider in need of a shake-up. The duo’s aim to reinvigorate the award scene with authenticity and dynamism has culminated in a definitive list which celebrates the incredible achievements of some of the country’s leading entrepreneurs.

Following the COVID pandemic which posed unprecedented economic and emotional challenges for founders across the country, the FEBE Growth 100 recognises and celebrates 100 of the UK’s founders who have led, and continue to drive their businesses, to deliver significant sales revenue and consistent profit.

FEBE Growth 100 businesses must be UK registered, independent, unquoted, and an ultimate parent company, meeting the following criteria:

  • Sales between £3m and £200m
  • Trading for at least three years
  • An operating profit in the latest financial year
  • Founder(s) must still be involved

The ultimate ranking of 100 was data-driven, with companies ranked by compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in sales over the last two financial years. Businesses were initially selected by either nominating themselves or through organisations contacting them directly, as well as by accessing publicly available financial information. The full ranking can be viewed at www.febe.com.

Commenting on the launch of the FEBE Growth 100, founder Charlotte Quince said: “Our vision is to create something unlike anything else out there. We are building the greatest entrepreneurial celebration on Earth and a club that everyone wants to be part of and the Growth 100 is an integral part of that. So many people think that business founders just ‘get lucky’ or think of an idea one day and are successful the next. But we know that the journey to success is anything but smooth. The Growth 100 will celebrate those who have embraced the entrepreneurial roller coaster and who are now thriving as some of the fastest growing brands in the country.”

Xalient CEO and Founder, Sherry Vaswani, who has already been named as one of 10 Most Impactful Women in Technology 2021 by Analytics Insight, comments: “We are extremely proud to be recognised by FEBE.When I started the business six years ago, having spotted a gap in the networking technology space, I didn’t expect the company to accelerate so quickly and to have global brands and household names such as Kellogg’s, Keurig Dr Pepper and WPP among our customers. This has been a real team journey and we wouldn’t be in this position today, if it wasn’t for our people – and of course our wonderful customers – thank you.”

This accolade also comes on the back of recent recognition by Dun & Bradstreet who named Xalient the sixth-fastest-growing Technology Company in the UK and serves as further evidence that Xalient continues to accelerate at pace.

 

About the FEBE Growth 100

The Growth 100 annual list shines a light on the finest and fastest-growing privately owned businesses in the country, where the founder or founders are still involved. The Growth 100 list is being launched by FEBE, the club built for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs, which celebrates the greatest entrepreneurs in Britain. 

For more information, visit www.febe.com

After six months of training and working within the Xalient HR team as part of the government’s Kickstart Scheme, we’re thrilled to welcome Megan Underwood, in to a permanent role in the Xalient team.

Before starting at Xalient, Megan had some extended time off after her maternity leave and was considering returning to work but looking to start a new career journey. Liking the idea of working and supporting people, HR seemed like a natural fit, and she was keen to start work within an office environment to gain a good understanding of “office life”. We caught up with Megan to find out about her Kickstart experience.

What made you apply for the Kickstarter Scheme that led to your role here at Xalient?

I was at home with my little one during the pandemic, and in truth, it was difficult. I think I lost part of my identity and it made me realise that I wanted to opt for a career change when the time was right to return to work. I’ve always had a passion for working with people, so a role in HR seemed like a good path to follow. When I heard about the Kickstarter Scheme, I felt it would enable me to get the work experience I needed, and, as it turns out, it has been the gateway to a new and exciting future for me here at Xalient!

Can you talk us through what your experience has been like working for Xalient so far?

I’ve been here for over six months now and it’s flown by! I’m really enjoying the role and I feel like I’ve learnt so much in such a short space of time. I cannot stress how many invaluable skills I’ve learnt that I not only implement my career, but in my daily life too.

Lucy Brewer, Xalient’s HR Manager, along with the wider HR team, offered me guidance and support throughout my placement and I had regular 1:1s to discuss any concerns or queries and reflect on what’s worked well and areas to improve. I can honestly say through my experience working at Xalient, I have become ‘Megan’ again. My confidence has grown so much, and I feel excited to see where my future career will go.

What have you enjoyed the most out of your experience?

The people! Everyone at Xalient made me feel so welcome and made the whole experience around me even better.

What has been the biggest skill you’ve learned in this role?

That’s a tough one as I’ve learnt so much! But I’d probably say conflict management – the importance of listening to others and helping to resolve issues in a respectfully, and appropriate way.

What has been your biggest learning curve starting in the HR?

Getting to grips with the structure of the organisation, how all the departments work together and the specifics of every person’s different role.

What advice would you give for anyone considering a Kickstarter role?

To anyone considering applying, I’d certainly encourage them to do so as it’s probably one of the best opportunities you’re going to get to start out your career. For those just starting a Kickstart apprenticeship –  make sure you use every opportunity to learn as much as you can, take advantage of all the support on offer and enjoy the experience – you never know where it might lead!

The Kickstart Scheme, which was rolled out in September last year, is a government-led program that aims “to kickstart the careers of thousands of young people who could otherwise be left behind as a result of the pandemic”. The focus of the scheme is providing 6-month placements to out-of-work young people.

London, UK, 6th April 2022: Xalient, a rapidly growing, global specialist in networking and cybersecurity announced today that it has completed the latest phase of the company’s expansion with several key appointments in the US. These recent developments bolster Xalient’s existing presence in North America and support the expansion of the company’s growing global customer base from east to west coast.

Jeff Gray joins the company as Vice-President, US Operations. As a member of Xalient’s global Senior Leadership Team, Jeff will be responsible for accelerating Xalient’s capabilities in the region, playing an active role in client relationships and driving future growth. Jeff brings more than 30 years of senior enterprise IT experience, including 14 years at Warner Music Group and 12 years at AOL Time Warner, while most recently operating as an independent consultant managing large-scale enterprise transformation projects for global organisations.

Kevin Peterson has also joined the US team as Senior Cyber Security Strategist, responsible for helping Xalient customers develop and deliver their zero-trust networking and security strategies. Kevin is a recognised thought leader in cybersecurity and brings rich experience, previously leading his own consulting firm serving Fortune 500 companies. Prior to that he worked with Zscaler as Director, Security and Network Transformation, McKesson and Juniper Networks.

Additionally, Andrew Creech and Randy Leach join as Principal Consultants. They join the established global consulting team, responsible for designing and deploying secure, modern networks for Xalient’s US customers. Andrew has rich experience in delivering cloud solutions to large enterprises, gained during a 20-year IT career, including key roles at Verizon and IBM, while Randy brings experience in design and implementation of a wide array of digital technologies and solutions gained in companies including, most recently, media company E.W Scripps, also at Worldwide Technology and Crown Equipment Corporation.

Xalient’s US team has been further strengthened with the appointment of Marc Mancuso as Senior Business Development Manager, with responsibility for driving growth in the NW Pacific region. Marc joins from Verizon where he held a variety of market-facing roles during a successful 20-year career.

And finally, Emilee Khalil joins the growing team as Senior Account Manager, responsible for some of Xalient’s major accounts in the US. She joins from Spectrum Enterprise, prior to which Emilee was with HPE, Verizon and AT&T, gaining wide and valuable experience in the secure networking sector.

Commenting on this latest phase of Xalient’s global expansion Chief Operating Officer Mark Cooke said: “We have a very successful US operation that has helped Xalient expand its business significantly in recent years, delivering around half of our global revenues. To ensure we continue this growth path and keep delivering exceptional customer service, we are delighted to welcome these high calibre, experienced professionals into our business and wish them much success at Xalient.”

These new leadership and operational roles will enable Xalient to quickly scale to meet customer demand supported by its new service Martina, a unique AI-powered virtual network engineer designed to strengthen Xalient’s Managed Services capabilities.   Martina helps triage and resolve issues quickly, often through self-healing. This results in less downtime, enhanced security and a better experience for customers. Its development has also provided Xalient consultants with the opportunity to be involved at the forefront of AI innovation, particularly where the outcome means they can focus on more strategic aspects of service delivery, while Martina takes care of many of the day-to-day issues.

Xalient is one of six companies selected to feature in CRN’s Rising Stars 2022 Report, an annual report highlighting six of the UK channel’s fastest-growing, most profitable and most ambitious companies.

 

This year’s Rising Stars were handpicked from the recently published CRN VAR 500, which profiles the 500 largest UK channel partners on their radar by revenue and headcount, and who grew by an average 49 per cent in their latest years on record, adding more than £45m to their collective top line.

The report this year digs into each of the six companies’ business models and examines what they’ve done differently during the pandemic. It also highlights how they’re reinventing themselves for a new era of hybrid working, while also exploring how leading channel firms should be approaching the WFH vs office debate, the rise of new consumption models and the influx of private equity into the sector.

Read our founder, owner and CEO Sherry Vaswani’s interview  on how the business has changed and grown since Xalient was born in 2015 below.

 

Xalient was only founded in 2015. What was the genesis of the company?

My previous business, Worldstone, was acquired in 2012 and I had a three-year non-compete. Three years and one day later, Xalient was born. I had the opportunity to be ahead of one of the biggest mega trends I’ll probably see in my lifetime – the whole transformation around networking, security and SASE. I’d worked for a year in the US in 2014, and spotted a trend of companies moving their applications to the cloud, and of people working more remotely. I felt that the old world of networks and security was out of date. New technology like SD-WAN was emerging at the time. A basic managed network can be easy to provide – you check if circuits are up or down, and whether jitter, packet loss or latency thresholds are being breached. But in the world of SASE technologies, there’s a lot of intelligence in the tools that allows you to be much more proactive about monitoring and managing those environments. I saw an opportunity to differentiate by building a business that’s able to get the best of these technologies and that invents its own tools that make the most of those technologies – and is therefore able to offer a much more intelligent service to customers.

Seven years on, we’ve got huge customers like Kellogg’s, WPP, Keurig Dr Pepper and Avis. I hope they would say the same thing about Xalient, and that these are the reasons they pick us.

What size are you now?

Roughly 150 people, but growing every week, and about 50 customers. Just over half of our revenues are US based, which I think is interesting given that we’re a British-born business. We’ve got operational centres in Leeds, London, USA, Romania and India. The SD-WAN market has commoditised.

How have you adapted?

When we started, people didn’t know what SDWAN meant. Now a lot of companies have decided to specialise in it. We have the advantage of seven years of experience. We’ve expanded hugely on our cyber practice in the last couple of years. Now our market message is that we’re very much that leading authority on zero trust networking, not just SD-WAN. Also, whilst we’ve invested in innovation from the beginning, we’ve doubled down on our investment in MARTINA [Monitoring through Artificial Intelligence and Analytics], which is our AI-based monitoring tool. It’s now across the whole zero-trust piece, so it’s not just network fault monitoring and prediction of network faults.

You more than doubled revenues in 2020. Where’s the growth coming from?

What customers are now seeing of course, is that getting these foundations right, is so critical to digital transformation. Our business model is very much targeted at large companies and multinationals. But we’ll start with a consulting engagement and prove our worth. Then we go into solution design and deploy, and then into managed services. The business model lends itself to fast growth, providing you can retain the customers and deliver good customer satisfaction. We’ve had 95 per cent customer retention since day one, six years ago, and a net promoter score of at least 80 in the last year across all our services.

How have you funded the business?

I funded the business myself. We’ve also had the advantage of government funding and grants. Investing in Leeds was a factor, rightly I think, because we have created a lot of jobs there, including during the pandemic, with 30 or 40 new hires in and around Leeds. Going forward, we can grow and get to our ambitions organically, but we may want to accelerate that with acquisitions. And to do that we might need to get some funding in.

How are you handling the skill shortage?

Our HR team is a team of five. We have a talent and development manager who’s just joined us. But there’s no doubt about it – we are having to spend double the amount of time recruiting for roles. One of our core values is challenging conventional thinking. We look for people who can do that, who have an interest in newer technologies and for the right individuals, Xalient has an attractive offering, which is a differentiator when looking for great talent. To me that will always be the headline about what Xalient does differently.

Has the chip shortage prompted you to modify your focus?

We focus on software defined technology by nature, so it hasn’t really impacted us. There’s not a lot of hardware in our world. But wherever there is, we just manage it. It’s not on our risk register, because it’s quite insignificant.

 

 

Xalient is proud to announce that it has been named in the Financial Times sixth annual list of Europe’s 1000 fastest-growing companies.  

Xalient, one of the UK’s leading independent network transformation companies,  specialising in software-defined networking, cloud security and unified communications, has been named amongst the fastest growing companies in Europe, joining the top 50% of the FT 1000 list. Xalient ranks at #365 across Europe and is the 70th amongst just 155 UK companies, across all industry sectors, that feature this time.  

This is Xalient’s first entry into the FT 1000 list and it comes after a year of strong growth both in the UK and US.  

Speaking of the achievement, Xalient’s Chief Executive Officer, Sherry Vaswani said: “It is brilliant to see that Xalient has been recognised as one of Europe’s fastest growing companies and to be named on this prestigious list. It is a testament to the expertise and skills of our incredible team around the world, the results we have achieved for our amazing customers, and our commitment to delivering excellence in everything we do. 

We have seen significant growth over the last two years as digital transformation programs have accelerated and, as a result, demand for cyber security and networking technologies that underpin transformation, has grown rapidly, in particular with companies shifting to hybrid working models. The growing importance of the network and its strategic position in helping organisations move to the cloud is undoubtedly a major driving factor in our continuing global success, as is our continuing investment in service innovation and AI.  

We hope to quickly rise through these rankings over the coming years, and I personally, look forward to seeing what our amazing team can achieve.” 

The Financial Times and their data partner Statista, in their analysis of the rankings, noted that companies that made the cut this year were sufficiently resilient to survive and thrive despite the impact of the pandemic. Technology leads the sectorial mix with a fifth of the companies on the list, followed by construction and retail. Italy is the country with the most entries on the list, followed by Germany and the United Kingdom.  

The Financial Times identify Europe’s top 1000 fastest growing companies every year. The list, now in its sixth-year ranks Europe’s most nimble and inventive companies.  

View the latest list FT 1000 list here: https://www.ft.com/ft1000-2022 

 

About Xalient  

Xalient is a disruptive network transformation company that specialises in software-defined networking, cloud security and unified communications, providing an innovative and independent alternative to traditional service providers. Our services are provided to large and global enterprises through a range of consulting and managed services, delivered from our offices in the UK and USA. For more information, visit: www.xalient.com.   

We are excited to announce that Xalient has won the Megabuyte50 Award for the Best Performing Company – Telecoms Services category !

Megabuyte is the leading source of independent data and insights on UK technology and tech-enabled businesses, and the Megabuyte50 awards identify the UK’s 50 best performing, privately-owned technology companies. Committing to delivering excellence is one of our core values, and to be recognised as a top performer in our industry is testament to the amazing team here at Xalient.

L-R Ian Spence from Megabuyte, Sherry Vaswani and Mark Cooke, Group Chief Operating Officers at Xalient.

Sherry Vaswani, CEO at Xalient, said:

“Naturally we’re thrilled to win this prestigious award. We’re proud that our expertise spans a range of digital transformation services and technologies – from telecoms through to software-defined networking and cybersecurity solutions. This recognition evidences our commitment to delivering excellence in what we do and challenges we’ve helped our clients overcome.

The full list of Megabuyte50 winning companies can be found here.

 

Happy International Mentoring Day!

International Mentoring Day is recognised on January 17th in honour of Muhammad Ali’s birthday and his everlasting impact as a worldwide mentor.

At Xalient, we believe that mentoring is a critical component of a successful Diversity, Equity & Inclusion program and we are proud to provide a culture where knowledge is continually shared in a collaborative nature.

Regardless of tenure or experience level, we don’t always know the answers on our own, which is why our mentorship program really does make a positive difference when connecting various experience levels throughout the company.

Xalient’s Strategic People Advisor, Annie Davies adds:

“Our Mentoring programme has been an integral part of the Development Plans and Career Roadmaps for Team Members for some years, yielding huge benefits for individuals and the Company. The fact that 80% of senior and management appointments in the Company have been from within the business, in the past 2 years, suggests it is working. However, there is more we can be doing and this is about to be enhanced and extended in 2022, through our Culture & Inclusion Programme, whereby Mentoring will be central to the support, wellbeing and career progression, through tailored, personal plans.”