Iron man made of Oak

July 03rd, 2013 9:34am | Adam BardsleyStaff

Catch up with the channel's man of iron and man of Oak, Adam Bardsley.

Bardsley has been Managing Director of Poole-based call management giant Oak for six years and truly has risen to the top of the business through the ranks and through the good and bad times. As Bardsley explains, in the early ‘90s the economy had a similar look to today and jobs were few and far between. “After three years studying for a business degree in IT the first job I applied for was with Esso and I got down to the last handful from several thousand applicants. I thought the job hunting lark was a doddle. How wrong I was.

“A year later and not having had as much as another interview I’d reset my expectations! I used to buy 10 stamps a week and apply for jobs in IT that were above my ability, bang on my ability and well within my ability. My success rate wasn’t stunning and I seem to remember the sum of my efforts was usually something like one rejection letter a week and nine silences. I guess you reap what you sow, as eventually Phil Reynolds contacted me by phone several months after I’d applied to his advert in the computer section of the Yellow Pages. He put me in front of a computer and told me to write the manual for Oak’s first call logger and the rest, as they say, is history.”

Bardsley has been MD now for around six years and ultimately sits between joint CEOs Phil Reynolds on the marketing and product side and James Emm on the sales side. “Hopefully the glue that sticks the ideas and sales together ensures the top half of Oak gets all the attention while the roots of the business go unnoticed most of the time. James’ oh so glamorous take on my role is a kind of glorified ‘Operations Director’. Whatever the title, it’s a role I hugely enjoy, and integrating all different departments with their respective agendas towards a common goal that also serves the Oak reseller network is a constant challenge to keep me on my toes.”

Not one to stand on his toes, Bardsley’s determination also feeds a desire to set himself big challenges in what is an astonishing sporting career. “I got into running around eight years ago when a couple of guys here at Oak entered the local 10k race and roped me in,” he explained. “That led to me wanting to do better and then the lure of a marathon got me. It was London in 2005 and it was billed as the Chesney Hawkes Marathon as it was supposed to be my ‘One and Only’ but I’ve now done over 30.

“Ten of those have been at the end of Ironman races which I discovered after Googling ‘Marathon’ when looking for my next race. It resulted in a discussion in the office that decided two things. Firstly it was nigh on impossible and secondly you’d probably stop for ham, egg and chips somewhere along the way. I signed up around a year later, mainly on the promise of ham, egg and chips!”

It’s in Bardsley nature to be bashful about his success and few in the channel really understand what he has achieved. So let’s set the record straight. He has a marathon personal best of two hours 39 minutes. That’s just over half an hour slower than this year’s London marathon winner and only 24 minutes slower than Paul Radcliffe’s course record in 2003. And last year he completed his latest Ironman triathlon, comprising a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile cycle ride and a full 26.2 mile marathon run. He did this in 10 hours, seven hours under the time allotted by the World Triathlon Corporation.

These are serious achievements, but Bardsley, quite literally, takes them in his stride and has a simple attitude to the work life balance. “The vast majority of my training is carried out early morning before I get to the office,” he said. “It’s just a case of shifting your day forward by a couple of hours. Bed at 10pm and up at 5am is no different to bed at midnight and up at 7am. It just takes a bit more discipline and a lot less TV and social life!”

So does his physical fitness help him in his day job and make him more competitive? “The ability to switch off for long periods without distraction is invaluable,” Bardsley said. “Most of my best ‘performances’ in the office have been after a Eureka moment during training. I have a tendency to over-analyse and hence procrastinate at times and it offers me the chance to do that a lot quicker outside traditional work hours and both decide on the course of action and resolve to carry it out as a result.

“Ultimately, I’m not that competitive in business or triathlon when it comes to ‘beating people’. The focus is more on me doing the right things as much as possible and the outcome being a consequence of that. I see myself more in a supporting role to facilitate the competitive instincts of others and hence the focus is similar in terms of doing things right and having confidence that this will deliver the outcome required.

“If it’s winning I’m after then I’m a couple of hours too slow! It’s more a reflection on my will to commit to something and see it through to the best conclusion possible with the resources I have. The satisfaction is in doing the right things as often as possible and constantly reviewing what could be done better.”