James Clout

James Clout

Modern Commerce Operations Lead 

Date Joined: Jan 1999

Tell me about your background

I joined just over 21 years ago in Jan 1999 as a Warehouse Assistant at InfoBank, which was then the licensing arm of Trustmarque. At the time, it was an unusual choice for me as I had just left agricultural college and was interested in animal care. It was supposed to be a ‘stop gap’ job.

What happened? How did it evolve into a long-term career?

After working my way up from Warehouse Assistant to Warehouse Supervisor, a Licensing Assistant role became vacant in the Microsoft side of the business. This became my first proper desk job and it was a bit of a shock to the system. But a good one. It gave me a whole new perspective on work-life where I suddenly found myself with a lot more responsibility and tasks.

I did that for about a year and then the person I worked with moved, so I became the sole person in the team. That was a steep learning curve. However, the business was quick to invest and build a team that could provide a value add to account managers. It has since developed into the team we now have with six people who are dedicated to Microsoft operations.

What is your current role?

I held a Microsoft Operations role for 17 years but have recently taken on a new role as Modern Commerce Operations Lead. It is less transactional and more of a free-thinking role. Taking time to strategise on how we can work smarter as an organisation to enable better outcomes for customers.

That sounds exciting, but what does it mean? Can you give me any examples?

Well for example, last year we revamped the Microsoft CSP (cloud services provider) programme. This meant working with our development team to help them understand the needs of our Account Managers, customers and Microsoft ,in order to create a smarter toolset.  Now, with enhancements like a personalised dashboard that allows customers to review and manage spend, we have future-proofed and differentiated our offer in the market.

I was also involved in bringing Microsoft FastTrack Ready into Trustmarque.  We already had the people internally who are skilled at all areas of Microsoft and it was clear we should start using our expertise to help customers with their adoption lifecycle and roadmap, building on our core licensing offer.

Fundamentally, the role is about being on the front foot so when the next thing is coming down the line, we have transformed our business to be able to adapt and change.

What has been the most exciting thing to happen in the industry in your 21 years at Trustmarque?

Internally, it is the strategic alignment of lots of different business to where we are today which makes us unique in the market.

Externally, I think the transition from selling licenses to getting into the fun and interesting stuff. Things like PowerBI, Power Apps, AI and ML. All this futuristic technology is starting to come into business as usual and it is transforming business. The next things coming out from Microsoft are mind-blowing. With HoloLens you can almost have a virtual meeting. It’s the stuff you saw on TV as a kid.

What has kept you at Trustmarque so long?

Emotionally I am invested. It has been such a large part of my life that I want it to succeed. I get a sense of achievement and pride when I hear the good news stories.

I also like looking for areas we can improve and at Trustmarque I have that scope. I get to have input with our business goals and shaping the areas we can improve. With a direct chain to senior management, it is relaxed and non-hierarchical, which really makes you feel like a core part of the organisation.

What is your next priority?

I am looking at how we can have more seamless and modern processes internally. We have a clear strategy so it’s about doing things in a smarter way – how can we automate more and free our brains to do the more important stuff. I’m also keen to leverage tools like Power Apps and Power BI to access better insights and customer profiling. That will allow us to create personalised customer journeys and cloud transition paths that are relevant and unique for every customer.

Three words to describe Trustmarque? Evolving. Established. Friendly.