As our MD Kyle celebrates his birthday, we’re getting to know him a little better…

This month sees our Managing Director, tech genius and Domino’s pizza connoisseur Kyle celebrate his birthday. To mark such an important milestone (even though it’s not technically a ‘big’ birthday and we’re specifically banned from telling you how old he is), we’re dedicating this blog to all things Kyle. The hopes and dreams he had when he was young, how he’s got to where is now and if he has any words of wisdom for his past, youthful self. Not that he’s not still youthful, of course… Let’s dive in and see where it all began.

When did your interest in space start, and why did you choose to link your business name to outer space?

I’ve loved outer space for as long as I can remember. It was an escape from reality, something which could transport me anywhere I wanted to go. I love to travel now, and back as a child I had that same sense of adventure and curiosity but didn’t have the chance to travel much. I think I saw sci-fi as a way to explore beyond this world, and I was spellbound by the ideas of no limits or constraints.

When I began the process of building a brand identity for my own business, I wanted to evoke that same sense of limitless possibility and new beginnings (‘nova’ means new star in Latin!). The theme of space has given us an immediately identifiable brand and it gives me a real buzz that it all stems back to my childlike wonder about the night sky, stars and planets!

What would you say to the younger you if you could go back in time?

I would tell the younger me to trust his instincts. I don’t regret anything that I’ve done or the choices I’ve made in the past because it’s all led to where I am now. My past has totally shaped my present! Perhaps I would suggest that they focus a little earlier, and not take quite so long to become an adult and find my path as I could be making even bigger plans now!

However, it’s worth adding that I really believe that we need to make mistakes and learn from them to progress. Sometimes being frustrated or challenged is what drives us to create change. I think people are fibbing when they say they always knew their path, and everything went their way. I’m happy with my life and know that wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t made the choices I’ve made.

What do you find most fulfilling about your work at Black Nova?

For my day-to-day work, it has to be solving really complex IT challenges for our customers. I’m lucky that I live and breathe tech, so I know how it can transform someone’s business processes, the way they communicate with customers or their team, and elevate their growth potential. I’m lucky that every day I can share that knowledge with people and help them solve problems. The more difficult the challenge, the happier and more fulfilled I am when I’ve nailed it.

There’s also the boost I get from knowing I’ve started a business which provides secure jobs for people and that we’ve created an environment which is collaborative, creative and fun to work in. Not everyone can say that, so I’ll allow myself the occasional pat on the back for that. I also find pizza days fulfilling, for obvious reasons!

How do you mark birthdays with the team, and what will you be doing to celebrate your birthday this year?

We give our staff the day off for their birthday, but we also tend to have a pizza day or go out for lunch whenever they are in the office close to the date. I can’t remember exactly how or when it started, but we decorate people’s desks and it’s themed for whatever their hobbies are or what they’re known for. My desk was covered in quite a lot of rude things one year, but thankfully it’s always done with good humour!

I’ve already celebrated my birthday this year as I finally own my dream car – a Toyota Supra Twin Turbo in black. I have dreamt of having this car for over 20 years, and all of my adult life (is that a hint to Kyle’s age?!) and it was a genuinely tearful occasion. I saw this car in The Fast & the Furious, the very first film in the franchise which came out in 2001, and now there’s one sitting on my driveway. It’s still not really sunk in!

What are your plans for the next 12 months for Black Nova Designs? What about the next five years?

I’ve actually recorded a YouTube video about this, which (if you like) you can take a look at here. Essentially, we have lots of exciting plans for Black Nova Designs, both in terms of how we serve clients and how we work internally. That means we’re planning to hire another IT Tech and another Full Stack Developer to join the team and may well need to think about other additional roles too. I’m planning to integrate more APIs and internal processes to streamline the way we work, and we’re launching a new arm of the business. Black Nova Tech (with a new website coming soon!) separates our successful networking and Wi-Fi services away from our web and design services. I can’t wait to get my teeth into it all.

Looking ahead to a five-year plan for the business, I would love to keep growing the team so that we can help more customers and be known as a go-to brand for all IT and tech queries. As I said previously, helping people is one of the most fulfilling elements of the job, so we want to position ourselves to be able to do more of that!

What about any personal goals for the future?

I always say that I’m aiming to become ‘useless’ in my own business. That means getting to the point where the business runs just as well when I’m not here as it does when I am. We aim to empower the team to make good decisions and take leadership, as well as helping each other. I would love to have the freedom to take more holidays with the family and spend time with the kids without worrying about missing anything in the business. I believe a good work-life balance is essential for us all, and time away from work unlocks ideas and creativity. I’m also modifying my Supra, the car I finally bought myself, so you’ll find me with grease on my hands and a smile on my face when I’ve been fiddling with that.

We talk a lot in our marketing about how much businesses and people rely on IT now. Would you be able to tell us your favourite use of IT in our day-to-day lives? And what about your least favourite, the one you would ‘uninvent’ if you could?

IT has unlocked so many amazing benefits and possibilities for us – just imagine what would have happened in the pandemic if we hadn’t had the internet and remote working tools? The chance to enjoy virtual pub quizzes and Christmas days with family and friends? There is other, truly life changing applications too, such as using virtual reality to help people who have had limbs amputated cope with phantom limb syndrome, to train surgeons on the most complex procedures and even show people what their dental work will look like when it’s complete!

The flip side is that some of the technologies available risk making us lazy and hindering our communication skills. Do we really need to be able to control lights and heating from our phones? Is one-click online shopping fuelling the purchase of low-quality goods that frankly we don’t need and are made in countries with a very badly paid workforce and zero commitment to sustainability? We need to make sure there’s balance in our lives and that we aim to use technology constructively, rather than melting our brains and trashing the planet.

When I mentioned how important IT was for keeping people working and communicating during the COvid-19 pandemic, that same tech has a darker side. Remote working can be very lonely, and I worry about people losing key skills like conflict resolution when they never work in the same room. I know I’m also not alone in finding it frustrating seeing people in a group together all glued to their smartphone. Barely a conversation or one pint in the pub can go by without someone googling something or showing someone else a funny video or meme. I can just about remember a social life before life was like this and it was great! Ban the phones and connect with the people in front of you…