In our recent blog, From soup kitchens and ‘soulful glows’ to Brazilian jiu-jitsu and cold brews, how Anthony Koochew ensures culture stays front and centre at Azured, we got to know one of our two co-founders. Now, it’s time to meet Martin Ferguson, based in the UK.
When it comes to IT, as with many industries, there is a stereotype on what a run of the mill IT worker looks and acts like. Whilst stereotypes are typically sweeping generalisations, they are often based on some common traits of the career IT professional.
Martin Ferguson was made from a different mould. Described by colleagues as somewhat of a ‘savant’, Martin’s early career saw him work with major corporations including Vodafone and Microsoft. He worked on some large-scale projects such as assisting in the UK roll-out of Office 365, which helped accelerate his knowledge and skills in IT.
In 2012, Martin emigrated to Australia, where he quickly realised that his knowledge and experience with emerging solutions was in short supply. It was also around this time that a friend introduced Martin to a young and driven Anthony Koochew.
“Greg Leach, who is actually now an Azured Board Director, reached out to ask me if I would consider mentoring Anthony. I said yes but when I first spoke with Anthony, I did have one caveat. I told him I was happy to mentor him but that he needed to go out and do some voluntary work. When people undertake voluntary work, it helps define their approach to work,” explains Martin.
Anthony took the advice and ran with it and thus began a mentoring relationship that would eventually evolve into an international business.
From pints in the pub to securing a partner, the birth of Azured
According to Martin, the conception of Azured was not an epiphany. With his level of knowledge and reputation, Martin was not short on opportunity. However, when Anthony and Martin got together over a pint in St Martins, to talk possible next moves, Martin knew that Anthony was someone he could see himself building a business with.
“Anthony had a number of ideas and opportunities he was keen to discuss. At the time, I had been involved with some Azure projects with early adopters and I knew it was going to be big for the future of Cloud Computing,” explains Martin.
The two held lengthy discussions and eventually set a business plan for an Azure practice before quickly securing a partnership with Telstra.
The accidental family
A lot has changed since those early days nearly a decade ago. Martin has returned to the UK. Azured has flourished and experienced rapid growth in both Australia and the UK. It is the growth and the team that motivates Martin.
“What keeps me going now is the investment in the team. I love what we do but it’s not the work, it’s the people within the business that inspire me. It’s become a large family and we all look after each other,” says Martin.
The people in the business are recruited based on who they are, not what they know. Martin and Anthony have crafted an organisation built around their staff and their interpersonal skills, not the other way round. The result of this has been team members taking ownership of things beyond their job description. No one is being dragged, they are all on a journey together.
“These people are passionate and really enjoy what they do, they recognise that their colleagues appreciate this, and it helps drive them. But we also have a focus on employee wellness and supporting each other outside of the workplace,” notes Martin.
Having always seen this in action amongst his peers, Martin hadn’t realised quite how strong this network of support was until he found himself in need of it.
“I’ve always been an advocate for mental health awareness, based on my own experiences. Last year I had some seriously low moments, I was really very unwell. My colleagues in Australia were a massive help to me. Without them, it would have been much harder to get back to feeling not just better, but better than ever,” explains Martin.
“These people are not just my peers, they are my friends and whether I need help on a client project, or a trusted ear to listen, I know that the Azured family, this big, eclectic, accidental family, is there for me,” he adds.
Keep calm and think
Outside of the office, Martin is a former adventure sportsman and current yoga enthusiast. He starts each day with a cup of honey and hot water before undertaking his daily meditation, as taught to him by his grandfather many moons ago.
This peaceful practice seeps from his personal life, into his professional life. However, regardless of how calm he may appear, Martin is a keen strategist and constant thinker. His knack for long term planning has helped ensure Azured remains one step ahead. It’s this innate ability to stay focused on the bigger picture that has been Martin’s greatest contribution to the business Azured is today.
Click here to learn more about Martin Ferguson and the team behind Azured.