Our founder and CEO, Chris Gledhill, looks back on the last 30 years and shares plans for the future
The start of a new year is always a good time for contemplation. It's fair to say that 2023 was a pretty momentous year for PDMS. It marked our 30th year in business, a cause for both celebration and reflection.
PDMS started on the Isle of Man when my friend Jon Allen and I set up a two-man business on a mission to do data and software projects better.
Over the intervening years there have been eight UK Prime Ministers, and the company has grown to 92 staff across offices in the Isle of Man and Glasgow. During the past three decades, we have employed at least 250 individual people, many of whom are still with us and many others who have gone on to do great things in other organisations or who have built their own successful businesses.
We have worked with more than 300 customers in at least 15 jurisdictions in many different sectors and, although our customers and the solutions we have provided for them are diverse, our core purpose has remained completely consistent. Our objective is to ensure that our customers are able to make the best use of information technology and data to achieve their organisational goals – we aim to provide the information which helps people succeed.
We realised a long time ago that software development, like any growing sector of the economy, will inevitably suffer skills shortages. With this in mind, we have been both an active promotor of careers in technology and a training organisation which is always looking to find and foster new talent into the industry. In fact, right now one in six of our technical staff started with us as an apprentice. This is also why we have had such a long association with charities such as Junior Achievement who are simply the best and most consistent bridge between the worlds of work and education.
Different professions have different age profiles and when I started out in the software industry, there were no old software engineers and not really any old software companies. About 15 years ago, I did a course with the Institute of Directors and their opening gambit was to tell me and my eager fellow students that we were all going to die (I think they said mortal) but that our companies would or at least could be immortal. And looking at PDMS today, I see a company which feels diverse and vibrant.
One third of the team is under 35, across the organisation 40% of the company and 50% of the executive team are female - both of which are industry-leading statistics. And in terms of experience and continuity, we have a millennium - yes 1038 years of cumulative experience, with an average across the business of 11.3 years’ service and 25 people have joined the business since the start of 2022.
I am incredibly proud of the positive impact that PDMS has had on our local communities over the last 30 years. We have supported charities and not-for-profits by providing our expertise free of charge to deliver software solutions and websites, and our generous team participate in a number of fund-raising initiatives every year.
Through our volunteering scheme they have supported a wide range of great initiatives from mentoring in schools through to helping with the Isle of Pride event and habitat development for a bird sanctuary. We have also provided over 100 weeks of hugely valuable work experience placements, encouraged thousands of students to consider a career in technology or STEM through careers events, and invested time in one-to-one career mentoring.
So, after 30 years, the founding shareholders of PDMS felt that it was the right time to secure the long-term future of the business – guaranteeing stability for both our customers and our team. We recently sold the shareholding of PDMS to Volaris Group. Volaris are a buy and hold company who never sell a company they have acquired. In Volaris, we believe we have found a secure long-term home in an organisation whose culture and values align with those we hold dear. Importantly, they empower businesses to operate independently trusting in their leadership team to know what’s best for their customers and the markets they serve.
The PDMS leadership team and I are excited to be part of a new family where we can benefit from the best practices and financial security of a large technology focused group, to continue to do what we do best – using technology to deliver great outcomes.