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Meet & Greet: Tom Ray, CEO, CTS Group

In this week’s Meet & Greet interview, myGwork member and LGBTQ+ ally Tom Ray shares why the LGBTQ+ community is "very important" to his company, and how as CEO of CTS Group, he is promoting inclusion to ensure that all staff are “welcome, feel safe and can be themselves” at work. He also offers a glimpse into his work and social life.


myGwork: Why did you want to be CEO of this company?


Tom: I joined CTS in 2018 as the COO and stepped up to the CEO in December 2021. It’s been an amazing two years in which I’ve immersed myself into the culture and DNA of the business, in parallel with the world in lockdown our leadership team have had to adjust and rethink how we run the business. When the opportunity arose to adopt the CEO role, our founder James Doggart was ready to step back. I was excited to take on the challenge and help shape both CTS and CloudM as both build stronger identities and grow quickly in fast growing markets. These chances don’t come along every day! 


myGwork: Have you always wanted to lead a company and why?


Tom: From early in my career, I knew I wanted to work with people, help them and drive for shared outcomes. Initially this was as a team lead in internal technology teams in industry, working with small groups. This helped me to learn about different personalities and how to get the best from people. From there, I slowly picked up more leadership roles, before joining a startup called Cloudreach.

Cloudreach was the catalyst for the next phase of my leadership journey, in the shape of a startup, we had to build teams, functions from scratch. It was hugely rewarding and challenging. The most recent phase of moving to CTS and picking up board level roles and leading whole organisations is super exciting. I love working with a diverse group of people; each bringing different skills, insights and passion for getting things done! Leadership is in my soul. 


myGwork: How would you describe your leadership style?


Tom: You should ask the team. I would like to think people perceive my leadership style as energetic, driven, fair and encompassing. I love what I do – no Sunday night blues to be seen, I enjoy both the sector we work in and the brilliant people in the business. I get a huge amount from involving different people, not necessarily following a rigid command/control/ hierarchical structure to debate, analyse and make good decisions. 


myGwork: What attributes do you look for when promoting/hiring employees leaders in your company?


Tom: Good question. Ultimately do they have a positive, growth mindset? Are they open to feedback? Are they clear communicators? We are not all perfect, so if they are committed to the responsibility that comes from leadership, I’m all for backing people, supporting them and helping them shape their own style. The one watch point here is not promoting too early. I’ve definitely seen the negative experience from over promoting and not helping people at their speed get the foundations right. It’s a very bespoke process. 


myGwork: How do you successfully motivate your employees?


Tom: I’d like to think it’s a balance of sharing a clear vision for the business and supplementing that with clear data which they can ‘see’ and digest to determine both how we are doing in pursuit of this. The vision is split between hard targets, aspirations and underpinned with our values and virtues. The ‘what’ and ‘how’ are key to have in balance. A good example of this is taking one of our values, ‘appreciate others’. It’s a broad statement intentionally, it speaks to appreciating each other, acknowledging our partners (Google in our case) and of course our customers. Motivation comes from feeling connected in purpose, direction and with empathy. 


In parallel, is a general theme around empowering and giving ownership of different aspects of the business. I, 100% believe that to be successful, you need to be able to self prioritize, sort your hours and work-life balance and your ideas on getting stuff done. We all go about things in our own way, don’t we?


myGwork: How important is LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace to you?


Tom: Inclusion is a natural extension from the points above. For a workplace to feel connected and motivated, we need to ensure we are open, appreciative of others and can communicate and collaborate together without prejudice. Specifically the LGBTQ+ community is important as it relates to many people working in our business. We want people to feel that they are welcome, feel safe and can be themselves. A happy and motivated group of people can achieve anything they put their minds to. You need diversity of thought, ideas and backgrounds to be successful.

So how important is LGBTQ+ for CTS?  Very important is the simple answer. As a very real example of this each month, we encourage people in the business to tell their stories, either to the group or via a blog post. It’s been very insightful for me as it reminds us of the personal challenges we all have coping with situations, which we may or may not experience directly. Examples include neurodiversity, coping with the menopause, living with disabilities or discussing LGBTQ+ sterotypes and misconceptions. 


myGwork: How are you personally promoting inclusion in the workplace?


Tom: I think talking about inclusion and participating in the various groups creates an atmosphere that irrespective of your role in the business our values are important. They represent who we are and how we behave. I’d like to think people know that people who exclude others, who aren’t open minded, aren't going to connect and be successful. We try to open up conversations, encourage people to share and build empathy with others. Ultimately, live by your values and stay consistent! 


myGwork: What was the last book you read? Any interesting take-aways and would you recommend it to fellow leaders? 


Tom: Paul Allen's Idea Man is a fascinating read. He was a creative, brilliant technologist. He’s very honest about his strengths and weaknesses and his relationship with Bill Gates. 


myGwork: What's your all time favorite movie/show – and how many times have you watched it?


Tom: Good question. In recent years, the Crown is exceptional on Netflix. Movies? I’d probably go for Back to the Future. It's a classic, and makes me smile every time. 


myGwork: What's your most favorite holiday destination to date? 


Tom: Umbria in Italy. The people, food, wonderful views, culture and red wine. What a combination! 


myGwork: What do you do to unwind? Which drink/cocktail/tipple helps you unwind most?


Tom: West Coast IPA, cold on a Friday night after work – what a luxury and delight. Failing that, an espresso martini on holiday! 

You can find out more about Tom and connect with him here.


Check out some of myGwork's other recent Meet & Greet interviews, including:


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