Larry Doyle formally takes the reins as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Leaf Ireland in 2020 as the successful Belfast UK based managed services company expands into Ireland. Leaf already had several Ireland based customers but since Larry’s appointment it has seen a rapid acquisition of successful Republic based clients.
“We have been working with DMQ Accountants for the past couple of months. They are a startup with 6 employees and wanted to outsource all IT.’’ Larry explains. “They wanted to ensure their systems were secure, so they came to us.’’
Another new client is Mitchell McDermott QS. In this case, the business was well established with 45 employees. However, they were unhappy with their current IT provider and asked Leaf, and Larry, to provide an independent audit. “Again, we went through the set up and made recommendations on how they could improve efficiencies as well as creating a secure environment. Sensitive client data required a secure network.”
Larry joins Leaf with an impressive IT and communications-based resume. Larry had always been very keen on computers and self-taught himself at a young age. At the age of 12 his local rural primary school in county Wicklow got its first computer. He became fascinated with technology and being the practical man that he was meant he did not go to study computers in college after school but opted for a hands-on course with Nixdorf in Bray, Co Wicklow. Nixdorf was at the time about the third largest computer manufacturer in the world and the one-year course was intensive and very practical.
“It was the equivalent of a diploma despite it only lasting for one year – in work hours it was nearer to two.” Larry says.
His first job afterwards was at a Fertiliser Plant where he was assistant to the IT manager. “I was coding updates to their payroll software on a PDP 11, a computer first sold in the 1970’s then manually saving the backups on tape reels. You couldn’t get more hands-on than that.”
He moved next to Business Communications, a company that mixed data and telephony which was ahead of its time in 1992. “It was networks, integration and advanced technology. I loved it. I studied at night to get a diploma in Information Technology. I would have stayed there for a long time.”
And so he would have, only the company changed management and the organisation split into different divisions. Larry had a choice – stay or set up on his own. “I was only a young fella, still in my early twenties and my father said take the chance – you’ve nothing to lose. So I did.”
Netforce was born. It excelled as a managed services company that was, again, very ahead of the curve. For the next 16 years, along-side his business partner Darren Lawlor, Larry fell into the role of co-founder and technical director with ease. ‘We were a pioneer in managed services and worked closely with top brands – migrating into cloud services as the internet matured.’’
Under Larry’s supervision, Netforce moved from strength to strength, becoming a strong Microsoft partner, and in 2006 were one of three companies shortlisted for Best Microsoft Partner in the world.
After 16 dedicated years in Netforce Larry hit a glass ceiling with expansion as the next logical step. However, Larry and Darren were ready to pass the baton on and sold Netforce to Exigent Networks. Extigent Networks were well equipped to take on the task of expansion, with Larry working alongside them as Head of Managed Services.
After a significant period at Exigent Networks, family became a priority to Larry, who took time out of his career to holiday and decide what the next step would be in his career. It was at this stage that he was approached by Steven Goldblatt, CEO of Leaf. The two knew each other from sharing work on SonicWall and Microsoft.
Leaf, being a Belfast based IT company, has a client base that covers both the Republic and the UK, but needed an operational director for the Republic.
Headquartered in Belfast, Leaf boasts 35 staff who supply and support services to a wide range of sectors across Northern Ireland and the Republic. The expansion into Dublin was a natural progression for the company, and Larry, alongside the team at Leaf, has major plans for the coming years. Initially Leaf Ireland will employ five people but that is expected to scale significantly to 20 employees in the coming three years.
Larry is very excited to be part of the process. ‘’I appreciate a well-thought out corporate structure and employee support network. I enjoy being hands-on but I also like being part of an organisation with dedicated software engineers and programmers. I have big plans for Leaf Ireland and am excited to see where we can go in the coming months and years.”