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From Sherpa to Summit: Simon Gateley’s Journey to Director of Operations at Gravita

Simon Gateley’s inspiring journey from the Tenzing Sherpa Programme to a permanent leadership position at Gravita serves as a testament to the Programme’s success in nurturing talent, fostering growth and supporting management teams to excel within the Tenzing ecosystem. In this interview, we delve into Simon’s experience and highlights, offering valuable insights for aspiring Sherpas and potential recruits.

Simon, could you provide a brief overview of your background and career path before joining the Sherpa Programme at Tenzing?

I started my career at EY as a Management Consultant, initially on a rotational grad scheme, before focusing on large-scale digital transformations. I enjoyed a blend of sectors and scale, which provided great experience on various projects. Keen to expand my knowledge, I then joined a B2B start-up in the MarTech industry, which gave me an insight into venture-backed businesses and ignited my desire to work for a PE-backed company focused on growth.

What motivated you to apply for the Sherpa Programme, and how did it align with your career aspirations and goals?

My friend shared the job application with the simple accompanying message; ‘Apply for this job’. Upon reading, I knew he was right. It seemed exciting, fast-paced and perhaps a little daunting – exactly what I was looking for. The Programme stood out as a fantastic opportunity to play a critical role in driving change in a growing business, being accountable for crucial projects, and having a lot of exposure whilst also having a huge amount of time and effort invested in your development. 

I have a concept in my career of taking roles and opportunities which will increase my career capital, enabling me to continue to get better at whatever I choose to do. I felt the Sherpa Programme did this.”

– Simon Gateley, Director of Operations at Gravita

What qualities made Gravita an exciting place to be as Sherpa? 

Gravita is a really exciting place to be as a Sherpa. It’s a platform business on an active M&A journey, undertaking a change transformation across all underlying technology. We also have a new leadership team and have moved from a traditional Partner-led operations model to a service line-led model.

The Sherpa Programme emphasises a strong culture of learning and development and aims to accelerate the development of future leaders. Could you describe the mentorship and support you received during the Sherpa Programme? How did it contribute to your growth and eventual transition to a permanent role?

I feel very fortunate to have been on the Sherpa Programme, as a vast amount of varied mentorship and assistance is available. I’ve always felt supported on any question or challenge, whether that’s by the wider Growth Team, my fellow Sherpas for questions or advice on similar problems or projects, my first Sherpa Lead, Glenn, who had such an interesting and useful perspective, Caroline, Gravita’s CEO and my line manager, and finally, Pauline, my fellow Sherpa at Gravita. Working closely with a colleague and a friend has been very helpful throughout. 

What do you think differentiated your professional development as a Sherpa? What stood out about the support provided? 

Having blocked time for monthly training is unique. It ensures we step away from the day-to-day and focus on our development. These structured training days are often on topics or areas related to being part of a PE-backed business, which has put me in a great position to translate challenges and help Gravita and its team, who are on their own journey of being PE-backed. Being able to own and be accountable for key projects in the business is one thing which the Sherpa Programme guarantees – through the network referenced above and the set training days, I’ve always felt supported and been able to reach out to others for help.  

Can you share a particular project or accomplishment during your time in the Sherpa Programme that you are especially proud of, and how did it prepare you for your current role?

Business consolidation provides exciting opportunities to drive efficiencies and lay the foundations for long-term growth. At Gravita, this meant capitalising on successful legacy offshoring practices by extending them across the business. I worked closely with Gravita CEO’s to accelerate the project under her direction. You can read more about how Gravita used offshoring to enable even greater growth here.

For prospective Sherpas considering the Programme, what advice or insights would you offer to help them make the most of their experience and aspire to a permanent position like yours at Gravita?

My advice is simple: say yes! I’ve learned that, sometimes, what begins as a small project can evolve into something much more significant. Getting actively involved and truly understanding the business is crucial. Being action-oriented and taking pride in being a completer-finisher has been key to my success. Additionally, building strong relationships with the people within the organization is vital. At Gravita, we have an exceptional team, and I’ve always felt welcomed. However, investing time in getting to know the people across the business has not only helped me succeed but has also allowed me to make a meaningful impact as a Sherpa.

How has the Sherpa experience influenced your views on what it means to be in a PE-backed company, or what PE now means to you?

The Sherpa experience was my first time working with or for a PE-backed company, and I loved the focus on growth and transformation. There are pressures and expectations; however, I thrive and enjoy the challenge of working towards ambitious goals. Tenzing is very supportive as a PE house. Both the wider Gravita team and I see Tenzing as partners on the journey.

Closing Thoughts

In this case study, we’ve explored Simon’s background, motivations for joining the Sherpa Programme, and the qualities that made Gravita an exciting place for him. Moreover, we’ve delved into the invaluable mentorship and support he received throughout his journey, emphasising the unique aspects that set The Sherpa Programme apart.

Simon’s advice to prospective Sherpas echoes the Programme’s ethos – saying yes to opportunities, actively engaging with the business, and building strong relationships are key to making the most of the experience and eventually aspiring to permanent positions within Tenzing’s portfolio.

To learn more about The Sherpa Programme and explore opportunities for growth, visit Tenzing’s Sherpa Programme.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie's spent the last decade in some of the world’s leading tech businesses running Marketing & PR. She shows entrepreneurs what it would be like if they partnered with Tenzing. Her true passion lies in community building, so she's in her element connecting marketing professionals across the portfolio. Talk to Charlie about sales and marketing alignment, demand generation, event strategy and team design.
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