Since Tom Lawson became CEO of software consultancy Opencast in October 2020, the business has achieved a compound annual growth rate of 100 per cent, taking it to 500 people and £55 million in revenue.

How? “Social impact lies at the heart of this business, both in the work that we do and the way we support our people,” he explains. Opencast takes on large projects for government and the NHS, creating technology to improve people’s lives. “That’s what excites me about this business, and it’s why I push so hard,” he says. “We want to reach a £125 million turnover by 2026.”

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You can’t afford to stand still in business. Ambition forces us to keep transforming and improving.”

Tom Lawson
CEO, Opencast


What does ambition mean to you?

You can’t afford to stand still in business. The world is constantly changing around us, and what may feel like stability is an illusion. Ambition forces us to keep transforming and improving. What got you to where you are today won’t get you to where you want to be tomorrow. In fact, it might kill you. Ambition is what makes me strive for constant reinvention.

What would your eight-year-old self think of you today?

He would be surprised that I’m still wearing shorts! Earlier in my career, I felt the need to conform – to dress and present myself a certain way. I’m very lucky to be working at a time when it is acceptable to be authentically yourself, even when doing a very senior role.

Tell me about one of your best business decisions?

Last year, I stepped out of the business for two months to do an executive MBA at Harvard Business School. This was a pivotal moment. It sent a message to the business that even the CEO cares about personal development – that I don’t think I know everything. It’s important to role model the behaviours you want your people to follow. The experience also validated our approach: I expected Harvard to be quite cutthroat, but the emphasis was on building businesses that make a positive social impact, which gave me a renewed sense of passion.