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Don Iro

Don Iro on evolution from electronics

By Don Iro

Group CEO, Allteks Ltd

Don Iro came to Southampton from Nigeria to study Electronic Engineering and subsequently worked for over 20 years in digital across different continents from developing consumer technology for Nokia to connected car services for Jaguar Land Rover in China.

Now back on UK soil, the Britgerian is co-owner of IT infrastructure company Allteks Ltd (a role for which he recently won CEO of the Year in 2021) and founder of Hamilton Ventures, connecting businesses and investors with opportunities in high growth areas.

Donning many other hats – Councillor, Governor of Solent University, Advisor to Hampshire Constabulary – the electronics entrepreneur is traversing the private and public sectors to leave his own legacy.

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What do you find compelling about the IT and Digital sectors?

For me, it’s always about the opportunity to solve a real-life problem; it’s about making lives and processes easier.

With electronic engineering ultimately you could look at how electronics power essentially everything that we do. I always think about the business aspect and ask questions – Why do we need the device? Does it make things more accessible? Does it give you your time back?

I moved from a mobile device world to the vehicle and technology world, and from that to the servers and systems that kept those devices operational.

I've always been in digital worlds and different aspects of digital. There is a lesson to be learned from the electronics and the systems and the orchestration of all of those to be applied in business.

As a company providing IT infrastructure, what are the biggest opportunities for the sector right now?

There are several big opportunities. The first one is in transcending to industry 4.0 – the industrialization of systems and industry and how technology will enable further co-creation and efficiency through hybrid working.

The radical next step in digital is in the metaverse – virtual meeting spaces, powered by virtual reality or augmented reality. It’s the next step in hybrid, where you'd have people all over the world connecting in places virtually and sharing that experience like they were there physically. It’s taking the video meeting experience to a whole new level and it’s a huge opportunity for businesses and for the IT sector.

There is a huge opportunity for interoperability, creating standards that allow businesses to literally take the experience from a box. The people who are going to make good strides in this space are the ones who will standardise the systems and be able to offer that in a very simple way to the consumer.

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As a CEO, Governor, and Councillor how do you find these separate worlds complementing each other?

For me, success is all about being able to leave an impact. Being able to leave the world in a better place than you found it. The areas I’m involved in all touch aspects of my journey and my community.

It’s bringing lessons from the private sector into sectors that are not for profit, but also taking some of the values in the public life and applying that to what is a private transactional world as well. It’s about what I can bring to the table and what I can enable and leave those organisations better for me being involved.

How do you maintain your connections with Nigeria?

I very much still have connections; my parents still live in Nigeria. I still have a strong holding in Nigeria, and when I go back there, there’s nostalgia. A lot of things moved on, but I still feel that sense of belonging and commitment to it.
My kids are learning both cultures, because irrespective of where you are born or situated, I think there are lessons you can learn from those areas.

I moved to the UK in 2004 and one of the key things for me was the opportunity that the UK presented. People don’t necessarily understand that it’s a massive thing to have things like an uninterrupted power supply and clean water. If all those basic things are against you, you’re going to struggle to achieve your full potential.

A culture like Nigeria says you’ve got to be a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer. But there are lots of creatives. Everyone has got gifts that they can harvest, they just need to be presented with that opportunity. I try to go back and support people in Nigeria, to show people that they can achieve these things. Maybe there’s a pathway I need to provide for them. Maybe there’s an ecosystem I can provide.

"The radical next step in digital is in the metaverse – virtual meeting spaces, powered by virtual reality or augmented reality."

Don Iro - Group CEO, Allteks Ltd.

How do you spend your time when you’re not working?

I have a young family and I try to spend as much time as possible with them. I’m a member of a tennis club. I spend a lot of time reading books and listening to audiobooks as well. I buy a lot more books than I can ever read. I spend a lot of time trying to develop myself in terms of leadership and how to be more mindful, connected, and present.

As such an avid reader, what books can you recommend?

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is a great example of how to approach life knowing that you can’t necessarily control what happens around you so focus on what your capabilities are and what you can control.

Another book I like is The Power of Your Subconscious Mind. It’s about connecting with your subconscious and the law of manifestation.
Those two books provide the grounding principles for me. I’ve used them on my journey. They can help you to really understand your inner capability.