Engineering Your Way to Leadership at Service Express

6th March 2023

Posted In: The Interview

International company Service Express which is headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with European headquarters in the UK, recently opened an engineering facility here in Dublin. As we approach International Women’s Day, Sinead Marsh, Commercial Marketing Director and Carole Gilkes, Customer Director, Service Express spoke with broadcaster Lisa Gibbons on opening day, and discussed what it is like to be a woman in leadership in the engineering sector.

“I’m truly confident businesses and organisations across Ireland, our nearest neighbour and a crucial area for business technology, will enjoy our unrivalled customer service,” said Carole Gilkes.

“Ireland has a strong reputation for IT hardware and software engineers, and we’re delighted to have the opportunity to expand our engineering capability to support customers into Ireland.

We have customers across many key industries in Ireland, such as financial services, retail and pharmaceutical industries. We plan to grow our engineering operations in Ireland as we expand this business. Our engineers have expertise with major technology companies such as IBM.”

Service Express established a presence in Europe in 2020 with offices in Bedford, London and Wetherby. The IT infrastructure support and managed services specialist has a strategy to continue to grow its operations across Europe over the next few years.

Carole Gilkes hails from Belfast and spent the last 15 years honing her leadership skills at British Telecom where she undertook a range of roles across all lines of business: “At the end of the day I missed working in infrastructure and so was very happy to join Service Express about a year ago.”

Sinead hails from Wexford originally and has more than 20 years’ experience in the IT industry and moved to the UK with the Irish Trade Board. Last year she joined Service Express and is delighted to announce the Irish expansion.

“My path to engineering began in science where I was heavily invested as a young student – winning the Institute of Engineers Awards and the Young Scientist award. From there I moved to study maths but changed to a more people orientated direction. I really enjoy the marketing around IT.

“Like Carole I also spent time at British Telecom where I really enjoyed explaining deep technical details to a wider audience. My career has had a commercial focus but also looking at flexible working and collaboration.”

Carole’s background was similar to her colleague Sinead, taking in chemistry, physics and maths. She contemplated electrical engineering taking after her father, but her love of chemistry led her to become a chemical engineer instead.

“I’ve always loved solving problems, looking at how processes flow. Then I realized that I could apply the tools and techniques that I learnt from my engineering degree into any situation in business.

That’s when I transitioned into transformational consultancy where I can use those skills to explore and improve new processes every day.”

Sinead welcomes the new facility here in Ireland and how it can improve the service for the Irish customers. “We are providing technical expertise to help our customers solve their infrastructure problems whether that is for on-site maintenance or indeed if customers want to put their data into out data centres we can provide a fully managed solution.

“We’ve already recruited some very skilled people in Ireland and we’re having interesting conversations with our customers about how they want to grow – and how we can help their growth.”

Carole chimes in here too. “We are passionate about our customers – without them we don’t exist.

For me, working with our customers to really understand what they want, listening to their feedback and building a resource to deliver on their needs is key.”

For both leaders, CSR is crucial to their role. “When you think about CSR it covers the entire planet and sustainability is a key factor here to our infrastructure business. We don’t see ourselves as just a data centre or a piece of equipment or the energy that goes into it. We think about the whole and how we can maintain the infrastructure so it can last longer for our customers,” explains Sinead.

Service Express operates a PUE or power usage effectiveness energy ratio aimed at achieving PUE of 1.14 in its European data centres, reduces overall power usage and relies 100% on renewable energy.

As part of Service Express’ CSR, Sinead loops in female leadership roles and the chance to be the change.

“Women can solve complex problems. Carole and I are both passionate about promoting female leadership roles across the company. We are setting up a Women’s Leadership Council for Service Express.

It’s not enough for women to do well, we believe you must bring other women with you.

With International Women’s Day coming up, we want to make sure we can have a really strong voice, to not be afraid and to be able to be part of the sharing of that strong voice.”

Carole agrees: “We are both very passionate about having strong female leadership especially in technology companies. Women are underrepresented here and we know increased diversity and inclusivity can lead to more innovation and success.

“We love the feedback that we have received from the company celebrating both our arrivals and now we can become the role models for younger women to join our conversation. More diversity delivers better decision making, more creativity and overall better business performance.”

Pictured (l-r): Sinead Marsh, Commercial Director and Carole Gilkes, Customer Director at Service Express.