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Updated: Sep 30, 2020

Amanda Marsey, managing director of SMR Architects, talks to BQ about her business and why she recommends Digital Enterprise and Digital Knowledge Exchange. 

What is it the company does? 

Architects practice based in central Harrogate, designing commercial, retail and logistics schemes across the UK. 

Describe your role in no more than 100 words 

A senior manager, aka ‘a jack of all trades’. Getting involved in everything and anything to make SMR a great place to work. Admittedly, key areas are financial management and stability for the company and future growth via evolving strategic management. 

How did you come to do the work that you do? 

After graduating in accounting and finance, I quickly realised that being an accountant wasn’t for me. My first job was for Bradford and Bingley, initially within their accounts department and then I moved into their business improvement teams. It was at this time that I began working with the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) quality model, which is a holistic tool for continuous improvement. In a twist of fate, Smith Smalley Architects asked me to assist them in a key bid; I trained the company in the principles of EFQM and accompanied the management team to what ended up being a successful presentation. Later, I was asked to join the practice to support their business. We are now operating as SMR Architects and continuing to grow. 

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position? 

Convincing new clients, who are often national or international based corporates, that our little Harrogate-based practice can deliver fast-paced, large scale projects. Luckily our track record of successful developments is helping to open new doors. 

Where do you see the company in five years’ time? 

Our goal is for SMR Architects to be ‘the architects of choice for creative and quality solutions on logistics, retail and large-scale residential projects throughout the country’. We have a steady growth plan, which we will deliver through our truly exceptional and collaborative service to our clients. This plan’s foundation is based on recruiting, retaining, and continually training the very best staff, whilst maintaining our culture of being enthusiastic, proactive and acting with integrity.  

Why did you take part in Digital Enterprise or Digital Knowledge Exchange? 

Growth: companies need to stay nimble and constantly look for newer, more efficient ways of working to stay viable.  

Growth usually requires investment, which is difficult for new companies. The Digital Enterprise vouchers aided our growth, through the procurement of new starter desktops and BIM software. This investment helped to ensure we had the right hardware, at the right time, with no immediate cash flow issues. 

The increased workforce working on the industry’s latest software were highly efficient and our productivity rose. 

What has the Digital Enterprise or Digital Knowledge Exchange done for your business? 

SMR Architects has been fortunate enough to be granted two £4,000 Digital Growth Vouchers. This has enabled SMR to evolve and transform our work processes to deliver an efficient and effective service for our clients and become a truly collaborative team player within our peer design teams.  

These investments have helped us to win contracts and created new jobs by enabling SMR to upgrade its in-house digital technology. This has resulted in quality improvements to our processes and workflow and has bolstered our service offering. 

A highlight result from our Digital Growth funding is that we have been able to recruit seven rather than five new team members. Staff morale is also much improved as the new IT software capabilities means a less stressful work environment. 

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

To be open to opportunities that are offered to you and when you see one, to grab it with both hands.  

What do you wish someone had told you when you started out? 

To celebrate all your successes and not take them for granted. Its too easy to think ‘Great, job done!’, then quickly move onto the next thing. For each and every win, you should celebrate or at least give yourself and your team a conscious pat on the back. It’s great for your own positive mindset and for those around you.  

Why would you recommend Digital Enterprise or the Digital Knowledge Exchange?

Technology within modern businesses is often the facilitator for long term success or improving your competitive edge over others. Digital Enterprise funding is a great mechanism for unlocking SMEs' ability to invest in hardware and software, assisting companies to create new jobs, with the view to increasing turnover and profitability. 

They are there to support our businesses, we need to make the most of these opportunities. 

If you liked this post, please share with your friends and followers. If you are interested in digital, why not check out the Digital Enterprise Top 100, a major initiative to identify those companies that are setting an example for others to follow within the world of digital transformation. 

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