Roger Allen – Zeta

On Monday 16th February Roger Allen, the managing director of Zeta came in to talk to use about his company and his journey of how he ended up there. As a managing director, Roger doesn’t run the company, instead he brings and understanding of business to Zeta.

Roger’s long journey started in 1948, the year he was born. He went to a good school, but was not clever enough to get into university, as so he left school in 1966. Before leaving school he went to careers advice and said that he was interested hairdressing and journalism, but was told that these areas were not for boys, and so was forced into applying for the army, though he was not accepted. Instead he started working in a textiles company in Leicester.

At the age of 23, he was working as part of the sales team selling textiles machinery and was given Africa and was ultimately head hunted by an Anglo-American company for a similar role but to sell to the south-east Asian market. While working in this department, Roger received the first orders for a British textile manufacture in India and Pakistan since their independence from the United Kingdom.

Eventually, Roger was fired from his position and returned to retail in Leicester, got divorced and moved south where he bought a bar. He then sold his bar and went back to retail. Until finally he moved to Weymouth in Dorset, where he came into the world of computers. He studied at night school and learnt how to use computers to design conservatories, and went on to own part of a company designing them.

In 1998 Roger was asked to start an IT contractors recruitment agency in the sale team, working here he was able to hone his IT skills even more.

Roger then went on to found Zeta in December 1999, and registered the company in 2000. Zeta is the sixth letter in the Greek alphabet, and he thought the name would be good for e-commerce and e-zines. Six months in, the company was in huge debts, mainly from advertising. Roger took over as the managing director and stood behind the debts. Zeta then began offering websites for £99, and as demand started to increase, they increased their prices to £299 and then £499. At this point, making websites was earning Zeta the smallest part of their income.

By 2009, Zeta were turning over good money with a large staff, though 2010 brought in a change of government to the UK. In 2011-12 Zeta experienced a huge down turn, almost collapsing the company resulting in losing some of their most important clients. At the end of 2012, Roger was forced to refinance Zeta. During 2013-2014, Zeta were determined not to lose any more clients. To do this, they decided to over deliver on projects and care more about their clients. Most recently in 2014, Zeta, with the help of previous Bournemouth University students, Zeta restructured themselves for mobile development. Roger is a big believer of business tapping into academia for talent.

While giving advice to the students about leaving education and entering into the industry, Roger had a lot of valuable advice to give which is backed up his many years of experience. He suggests we learn about the realities of the business that we are wishing to enter in to. The business actually pays more national insurance to the government on behalf of the employee than the employee pays. Note taking isn’t something that should end when leaving education, Roger advises to take a lots of notes, and more importantly, to listen. When looking for a job, remember than the public and private sectors are very different. In the public sector, such as governments, every decision they make is heavily scrutinised, and strict ethical standards need to be abided by. However, the private sector apply ethics that suit themselves, some good and some bad. When applying for a job, Roger advises that we never lower our standards to some low standard agencies, we should keep self respect and change jobs if needed.

March 30, 2015