PracticePeople In Practice‘Fed up’ IT boss quits

'Fed up' IT boss quits

After more than 14 years at the helm of Skillsgroup, the IT services company, exasperated executive chairman David Southworth in April announced his retirement after a rocky ride from the City.

Southworth, 52, a qualified accountant who trained with Coopers & Lybrand before moving into industry via Heinz and Phillips, had had enough with what he believed has been consistent undervaluation.

Southworth today oversees what is likely to be his last interim results announcement at the company.

‘I’ve had ups and downs in my dealings with the City,’ he said. ‘I don’t want the City to use me as an excuse to be undervalued.’

He said that he was ‘frustrated’ with a lack of recognition for turning Skillsgroup into a market leader in IT consulting and skills training.

Southworth has led a series of acquisitions, including Pontis Consulting in March which firmed up its place in the specialist IT arena. Last month it purchased training company Direct Media Technology for £5.3m.

However, shares have continued to nosedive this month reaching a low of 137p from an annual high of 377p.

The descent began back in October with 27% when Southworth warned that UK plc had pulled the plug on its IT budgets as finance directors waited for the millennium bug.

Southworth has committed £10m over the next 12 months in e-business strategy, with particular emphasis on developing a new online training division, known as Qaglobal.com.

Southworth is due to resign in December. Skillsgroup is already looking for a new deputy chairman and chief executive, who will also head up Qaglobal.com.

www.skillsgroup.co.uk

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