Peter Russell says the pandemic has "fast-tracked four to six years of developments" in the IT world in just six months. It's an evolution he says will support his firm Cancom's growth here.
Peter was recently appointed managing director of Cancom's all-island operations, as the company prepares to rebrand from Novosco.
Cancom, based in Germany, acquired the cloud technology and cyber security specialist in 2019.
Before that deal, the homegrown NI business had been racking up much success.
Among its achievements have been a £107m contract to manage IT infrastructure and support services for Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) NHS Foundation Trust.
And, more recently, under the Cancom brand, it made a significant investment in a security operations centre in Belfast creating 12 new jobs. For 2019, the NI firm Cancom Managed Services - formerly Novosco - reported pre-tax profits of £3.7m on sales of £42m.
"It's been very interesting," Peter says of his first days in the new role. "The job came in the middle of two lockdowns which, thankfully, meant I was able to come into the office, meet people in person and remotely. Then our guys from GB travelled over in mid-December."
A former boss at Neueda, Microsoft and BT, Peter began his career as a semi-professional on the rugby pitch.
He was a fly-half for Ireland's rugby team and part of the squad that famously rattled the New Zealand team during their 1992 tour of the country.
Peter grew up in south Belfast, where he still lives with his wife and three daughters.
And while he still keeps active, his love for rugby has spawned another, more novel hobby, he says.
"A crowd of us would go and watch the rugby and one time, while watching Ireland play Italy in Rome, we were shouting at the top of our voices when our wives asked us to stop and go and start a choir instead."
And so, Lagan Seahorses, a 45-strong male choir group led by two music teachers from Victoria College, was born.
Today the group of friends still practise, albeit via Zoom, a technology that Peter knows better than many of his fellow choristers.
"It can be funny. Some of the guys who might not understand technology could be singing away with the mic on, not realising it. But we enjoy it and we don't take ourselves too seriously," he adds.
More serious matters are reserved for the workplace, he says. His new role sees him manage a team of almost 300 people in its Catalyst Inc office, in Belfast's Titanic Quarter.
Making way for the new chief, former Novosco boss John Lennon will step down in March as will the firm's other bosses Karen Shearer and Gary Parkinson.
Co-founder of Novosco, Patrick McAliskey is to remain as a strategic advisor and will work closely with Peter in driving the business forward, growing UK and Irish custom.
"Growth brings opportunity for everybody and I want to grow and be able to grow the UK and Ireland bases through local recruitment," Peter says.
"Right now, we have 290 people, mostly in Belfast, and we want to try to grow that significantly over the next two to three years."
Additional opportunities for the firm in the Republic are also on the horizon, where he says the company has yet to make its mark.
"I think that will help us with our growth," he continues.
Another priority for Peter is to boost the profile of the Cancom brand, not just among potential clients, but its future talent.
"I think that's something that needs improved. Not many people are aware of the brand and we need to be able to share that.
"For me my job is to make sure the integration works well and do that across the island of Ireland."
It's a task he relishes, as he adds; "Developing in IT post-Covid times is exciting.
"It's a nice industry to be in post-Covid because the only way out of this pandemic is through technology and digital, whether that's working with Government, health or education, technology will enable our pathway out of this."
Cancom's headquarters is in Munich. It is a "leading digital transformation partner" that helps businesses maximise their success with the use of technology.
"We work with you to design your company's IT to map out your processes optimally and ensure that all employees can access your IT system without problems," its company profile says.
In Belfast and GB, the company focuses on four particular areas: modern workplace, cloud and infrastructure, networking and collaboration and security, working with both the private and public sectors.
While the brawn of a huge European organisation was part of the pull for Peter in joining Cancom, the company's culture was another selling point and it's something he pledges to safeguard with the growth of the business.
"The business has a saying; 'Fearless Champions of Better' and that's built around being the very best and to be the very best we have to have the best people and support them and their needs, including their health and wellbeing. We do this through things like mindfulness sessions, and we have a gym at the Belfast site and for me, trying to keep that agile culture as the brand grows will be a challenge."
Peter admits that sourcing talent to meet the fast-growing needs of the IT sector will also be a challenge, and he predicts it will create some volatility in the IT recruitment market.
"The pandemic has been a catalyst to the faster growth of the industry, and it's happened so quickly.
"What maybe would have taken four to six years has happened in six months. We're a cloud services, security services and modern workplace firm and all the things that Cancom does have been needed immediately and that's going to continue, even as we come into this new world. With that demand comes a need for more skills at IT firms and the supply just isn't strong enough right now.
"I know that all the various organisations and colleges and businesses are trying to rectify that but there is a risk of wage inflation and a churn in businesses happening, because of limited supply and significant demand.
"I think that is something we should really be investing in collectively across the industry and Government.
"There is a lot of work to be done."
Novosco has previously worked with the Department for the Economy to engage colleges and fast-track young people and those who want to re-skill, into the sector.
"It's a great vehicle," Peter adds.
"And I will be encouraging more and more of that, particularly post-Covid when people might retrain and choose to fast-track that conversion.
"We also have a role to play in keeping talent and that goes back to that culture thing. People join our business because of an interest in tech and we have to create that point of differentiation because nowadays jobs for life are gone, there's less loyalty and we need to create an environment that keeps them."