Kat Damcova is Founder and Managing Director of IQ in IT, an award-winning IT company providing secure outsourced IT services.
Kat’s relationship with Kingston Chamber started during IQ in IT’s early days and a chance encounter in an office lift. Her company joined the Chamber in 2011, and Kat was elected to the Board of Directors in 2015. Kat is the first Chamber President to be elected virtually and during a national lockdown.
Q: Why did you join the Chamber of Commerce?
I needed clients. When I started IQ in IT I didn’t have much experience of business development. I found cold calling scary, and knew I had to try something different. I met Jerry Irving, then Chamber CEO, getting into the lift in our old office. We got chatting and he invited me to a Chamber networking event.
Q: What do you like about Chamber membership?
It’s the best way to grow your business. I’ve met so many different companies, some of them are now clients, some partners or suppliers, but many have become friends as well. The support and encouragement from other business owners has helped from when we first opened our doors to the established business we are today. I’m very sociable so being able to mix business and pleasure works for me.
Q: What’s the best thing about running your own business?
Being able to do what I love in my own way. I used to work for large corporates on big projects, in the corporate world everything must have top level security and highly streamlined processes. Now I get to deliver the same high-level corporate style IT services, but on an affordable scale to local businesses. I get to combine the best of both worlds in a sustainable and ethical way, if I’m not happy about something I can change it.
Q: What’s the hardest thing about running your own business?
Having nobody else above you! I’m lucky I have a business partner, so Luke and I can share the responsibilities. But at the end of the day if there is a problem it’s up to you to fix it. Support from other business owners has really helped.
Q: How did you start your career?
My grandfather was an electrical engineer. I discovered his tools and started to build things, electrical things, mechanical things. Aged 13 I had to apply for secondary school choices, and I decided to go for computing because I loved building and fixing things. After school I started working full time in IT to put myself through university – I have 2 degrees, in IT and IT management. I started my master’s degree in IT in Education the same year I started my own business. Apart from flipping burgers as a student, I have only ever worked in IT.
Q: What’s it like being a woman in technology?
It can be tough to be taken seriously sometimes. When I was younger working in technology was never offered to me as a career path. I now work with young girls to encourage them to explore technology as a career path. Locally I’m involved as a mentor with Kingston University and local secondary schools through the young enterprise scheme.
Q: How has lockdown and the pandemic affected your business?
We have been even busier than usual! IT was designated as “key worker” category from the start of lockdown on 20th March. Overnight the country shut down and all our clients needed to move to a remote working model immediately. The first few weeks were very busy setting up entire companies to work from home, installing and updating hardware and infrastructure, adapting security to fit in with people’s home set ups. Our team has been amazing, working all hours to get things functioning securely for our clients. We have always had contingency plans in place for ourselves and our clients, so we implemented our emergency protocols to keep our clients running. Now we are helping businesses establish a combination of remote and office-based work, there is a huge demand for our services.
Q: Outside of work what’s important to you?
Wildlife and nature – I grew up in a small town in the Czech Republic. We were always taking animals in. Since lockdown I have really enjoyed reconnecting with nature, walking my dog in the local parks. My love of nature is the reason I have chosen Citizen Zoo as my charity this year, I love the projects they are doing to support nature locally. I believe that being ethical and sustainable can go hand in hand with our business lives and that making small changes in work practices can help nature and the environment.
Connect with Kat:
Phone: 0330 1224420
Email: [email protected]