North East Connected

Opencast makes two board appointments to support organisation’s growth

Independent technology consultancy Opencast has strengthened its senior leadership team with two board-level appointments, as it ramps up its ambitious expansion plans.

Earlier this year the company announced a major recruitment drive that will take the Opencast team up to 200 people by the end of 2021, as part of an ambitious plan to more than treble in size by 2025, to enable the company to tackle larger and more complex client challenges.

To build senior capacity for the growing demand for its services, and respond to the needs of its own people, Newcastle-headquartered Opencast has appointed a new chief technology officer in Lee Foster, and a new chief people officer in Cate Kalson.

Lee joins the business from enterprise software giant Sage, where he worked for more than nine years including as global director for enterprise and solution architecture. Lee, from Sunderland, previously worked for Atos, Capgemini and BT, where he worked with Opencast chief executive Tom Lawson.

“I’d been following Opencast’s rise with interest and I was really drawn to what they were doing as a company,” says Lee. “I could see the eye-catching growth, the unique culture and the talented people, and I could see something special was happening. I wanted to be part of that.

“My role is to shape and deliver the services our clients need to drive positive and powerful outcomes for their business. I’ll also be looking ahead at emerging technologies and trends to understand how they can help our clients, as well as working with Cate to make sure we continue to invest in the development of our people as we grow.

“Opencast is known for its open and honest approach to working with clients. I want to make sure we continue to build on that reputation and retain the culture that makes Opencast unique,” he adds.

Cate also sees part of her role is to maintain the Opencast culture as the company expands at a rapid rate.

“My remit is to make Opencast an even better place to work. That means maintaining and developing the strong culture that has underpinned Opencast’s success so far and focusing on how we build a developmental culture that supports the ongoing success and growth of our people,” she says.

“One focus I’ll be working on with our head of people Lindsey Steinberg is establishing people experience partner roles at Opencast. In the new, hybrid, way of working that we’re all adapting to, the traditional vertical way of line management doesn’t work that well.

“Our people experience partners will be a new cohort of people professionals who will be the first port of call for any HR or training/development issues that our technology consultants face. They’ll help coach team members as well as help them work out what they’ll be working on next.”

Cate has a master’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Oxford and a PhD in microbiology from Imperial College London. She joins Opencast from global business consultancy Oliver Wyman, where she was a director working in quantitative analytics. She’d previously worked at Sage and at the world’s biggest online car rental company.

In her earlier roles Cate always focused heavily on building capability, recruiting and developing teams and working closely with people teams to drive projects including the creation of early career training programmes. She’d also worked with Opencast in her role as a director at regional tech network Dynamo.

“I worked closely with Opencast on a couple of Dynamo projects and was impressed by what they were doing around skills and talent and their genuine commitment to developing and progressing people. The company has the potential to have a big impact regionally and nationally,” she says.

“The way the market is at the moment and the way our reputation is growing we can become a sizable technology company – but the internal infrastructure has to be right, and that’s why Lee and I have been brought in.”

Opencast chief executive Tom Lawson adds: “I’m delighted to welcome Cate and Lee to Opencast. Both are talented, hugely experienced and well-respected professionals who will play key roles in our further expansion.

“We’re committed to developing great people and great technology so we can provide the best services possible for our clients. Cate and Lee will help us do that. We’re on an exciting journey and I’m pleased they’re both with us.”

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