Appointment is ideal solution for tech-based Vanilla team

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 27 Feb 2018

A GRIMSBY-based enterprise software specialist has appointed a new head of technology as it bolsters its management team to build on strong growth.

Vanilla Solutions, which specialises in the IFS brand, business intelligence and process improvement solutions, has created the new role for Mike Hollifield, who joined the team a year ago as a technical consultant.

“I’m delighted to have been given the opportunity and am thoroughly enjoying working with Vanilla Solutions,” said Mike.

“We’re a small company, but one with exceptional people who know IFS applications and the wider Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software sector extremely well,” he added.

Vanilla Solutions was founded in 2009 by directors Jason Belcher and Andy Bell, both of whom had long careers working in IT, and with IFS applications in particular.

Headquartered in The Innovation Centre on Europarc, it now employs 27 people across the UK.

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Mr Belcher was formerly the IT manager at Cosalt before launching his own consultancy and then creating Vanilla with Mr Bell, who formed for Swedish giant IFS’ UK subsidiary.

He said: “We’d been aware of Mike and what an addition he’d be for us for a while before he joined the team and he’s excelled at whatever we’ve given him. As a growing company, we’ve been looking carefully at our management structure and took the decision to create the role of head of technology to help keep us ahead of the curve.

“Mike was the natural choice and being able to appoint from within says a great deal about our capabilities and our culture of identifying, developing and rewarding the best talent around.”

Clients include BAE, Farrow & Ball, Largo Foods, Mayerton and Thompson and Morgan.

Last summer the company opened a technology and support centre in Newcastle, with a team of six now based there and more to be recruited over the next year.

Mike, originally from Stockton-on-Tees, gained computing and IT qualifications at Darlington College of Technology before working at Teesside Power Station as a computer systems co-ordinator. He then joined Communicator Corps, where he worked as a client support executive at the company’s Sunderland headquarters.

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From there he moved to Leeds where he worked for NG Bailey, an engineering, IT and facilities services business. It was during his five-year stay at NG Bailey he developed the IFS skills and experience that landed him a role with Vanilla.

“The company is ambitious and has a fantastic working environment – everyone is supportive and hard working,” he said. “The IFS and ERP community is a small one so I knew of Vanilla Solutions and their reputation for delivering.

“My new role will be focussing on the company’s future strategy and approach to what is a very dynamic technical market. I’ll also be looking at ways to develop and grow our tech team and ensuring we’re up to date with the ever-evolving technological workspace.”

Giving an insight into how his passion evolved, he said: “I’ve always loved IT and computers from being little – my mum worked at a computer shop and I’d go there after school and was fascinated by everything in the shop and how they worked. I was very quickly helping to set up computers and servers.”

He has clearly impressed, winning two internal awards, one voted by colleagues, another by management. “I’ve had a great year at Vanilla and the awards and my promotion just topped it off,” he added.

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