In anticipation of the exciting new things Junari are currently working on, what better time is there to get to know the team? For the first in a new series of monthly interviews, I spoke with Dom Tyler, chief executive officer at Junari, about business, values, charity and more.
So before Junari amongst other things, you used to live in Turkey. What did you do over there and what are some of the most important experiences you had?
My family moved there, and I stumbled upon TEFL: teaching English as a foreign language to Turkish people. Most students were doctors who were looking to qualify at a certain level of English so they could work abroad. I rapidly realised how quickly some people could learn, and also about different learning styles. I also picked up presentation and group facilitation skills that I wouldn’t have otherwise had, and found it fascinating how the use of a variety of teaching styles worked with different people.
What got you into martial arts?
I was a big kid at school, but my parents had always encouraged me to remain passive. For some reason I liked the buzz of causing trouble, and wound-up the bigger kids to see what would happen, which was inevitable: I took my punishments. Moving to Turkey, I discovered the gym and boxing, then when I came back to the UK the martial art which stuck with most was Wing Chun, a type of Kung-Fu.
You were on the board of a Mind mental health charity for 5 years, and for 3 of those served as chair of the Mid and North Essex Mind; what were your focuses there and how have those experiences shaped your approach to business?
When I first joined, it felt a little too charity-focused, and my business-head came across as capitalist, but I made it clear that my main focus was explaining how we need to borrow some lessons from the business world, else we won’t be serving anybody, forcing us to review our accounting practices, ensuring we had enough running costs, moving to a more appropriate premise – because these all served our main objective: being able to help more people with mental health issues.
So you really prioritise talking about and acknowledging mental health in men, why is that so important to you?
I’m a guy in my late forties, I’ve got a couple of kids, I’ve been through divorce and I’ve got a pressured job – so, I’m in that demographic that’s got one of the highest rates of suicides.
It’s no secret that men are often poor at expressing their emotions, and a side effect of bottling things up is usually a build-up until the point of not being able to cope. If guys could learn to communicate more effectively and have other outlets, I’m certain that would reduce male suicides significantly. I believe there are practical things that men who are good at communicating can do to set an example for guys, to reduce the chance of them going down that route. There are real changes that can happen by being courageously open – not feeling shameful to say you’re upset, sad, worried, or scared. If you can be rid of shame, and explain to guys it actually takes more courage to say those things, then it helps them find the right outlets.
What are some of your values?
I strongly believe that kindness has an effect on every decision people make. Kindness is about not always putting yourself first, and I think that comes through in business: I don’t want to succeed at the expense of others.
I also really value enabling. I love to see potential in others, and even more exciting than that is enabling them to do more than what they realise they’re capable of. Our Alex (Morgaine), is a good example of that: He joined the team as an Agile project manager, and thought he’d only be managing projects, but I’m now training him to potentially be an operations manager, a major role in a growing business. And you, Alana, are another great example of that! From very early on in the interview, and even from your CV, it was very clear you have potential, probably well beyond what you can imagine. It’s very exciting and rewarding!
I also value environmental consciousness. When they talk about stats of the year 2100, and the stuff that’s been in the news recently about temperature changes and how we’re well off our targets for off-setting that… 2100 sounds unimaginably far off – but there’s a good chance both my kids are still going to be alive then, so it is really gonna have an effect. But, it’s not just that, it’s the interim effects as well; the effects of flooding making people homeless, the air quality and the pressure that’s going to put on health systems – the money we’re going to have to spend on medical research that wouldn’t have otherwise been necessary.
In reference to Junari and IT, what got you interested in this line of work?
I’ve always seen technology as a means to an end. Technology overall, enables us to do things we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise, and I find the prospect of that very exciting as opposed to the technology itself.
I know you work very closely with the Junari team, and particularly with Russ, our chief technical officer. How did you and Russ meet?
Russ was involved with Junari before I even knew about the company, and I found out about him during the due diligence stages of buying the business. I got in touch with him on LinkedIn because I knew at some point I would want to employ more developers. He was on an extended sabbatical in New Zealand, but said he was coming back to England at some point, so when he returned for a holiday, we arranged to meet up and spent the day walking around Rochester in Kent. We spent the whole day chatting and realised we had almost identical visions but very different skill sets – and it’s that overlap that makes it work.
You’re obviously very passionate about your business, what does passion in business mean to you?
It’s definitely being able to create a product or service that is genuinely valuable to other people – so, if somebody is paying £25 a month, it should be worth £500 a month to them, it should be ridiculously good value. Our end goals are to make all useful, lovable systems which are so hyper-usable that users don’t need user-guides or training, they’re just self-explanatory!
Thanks for chatting Dom. Next interview: Russell Briggs!
Interview by Alana Samuel, digital marketer at Junari