A fond farewell to our highly admired Customer Support Director, Debra Leland
And the start of a new chapter for the Datel Support Team, led by Stuart Morland.
25th May 2021
"Two years ago when I handed in my notice of retirement, I didn't think I would want to walk away from this job and leave my fantastic team and brilliant customers in the hands of someone else. But now I know it’s Stuart who will be taking the reins, I actually feel incredibly comfortable about retiring. I'm really confident that Stuart will not only do a fantastic job, but he will take it to the next level."
- Debra Leland, Customer Support Director at Datel
After an incredible career working within the Sage community for over 30 years, the time has come for our much-loved Customer Support Director, Debra Leland, to hang up her hat and hand over to a close colleague she holds with the highest regards, Stuart Morland.
With Debra’s last day marked for Friday 28th May, it’s an emotional week for many at Datel. Not only for Debra and the 54 support consultants who have been under her wing for years, but for Debra’s fellow Executive board members and also Stuart himself, who has admired and respected Debra for decades and feels greatly honoured to be taking her place.
To celebrate both Debra’s and Stuart’s career successes, we recently enjoyed accompanying them on a trip down memory lane, hearing how their working relationship first began, what they’ve accomplished since, and what they’ve both got planned for the next chapter…
Debra Leland, Customer Support Director at Datel (2016-2021)
With over 30 years of experience working with Sage products, over 20 of which were working directly in Support, it's clear to see why Debra is a well-known powerhouse within the Sage community. Her Sage support career began back in 2000 when she worked for a company called MIH as a Support Consultant, and then as a Support Manager, before moving to Datel in 2009 as a Customer Service Manager. By a streak of coincidence, it was actually her now successor Stuart and Datel's Sage X3 Services Director, Paolo Arcangelo, who put Debra's name forward as someone they felt would be a powerful addition to the Datel team. And less than 12 months after her move to Datel, Debra became Support Manager before being promoted to Customer Support Director back in 2016.
After over a decade working in Datel's Support Department, Debra has overseen and instigated a number of developments and brought a range of innovative ideas to the table. To name just a few, Debra introduced new internal procedures and a team-leader structure within Support, she introduced SLAs and timescales including urgency levels, she kickstarted the training plan to offer all support consultants regular accreditations updates, and she also took the lead in the merging of our Support and Managed Services departments. And on top of all this, Debra has also overseen the many additions of Datel's support offerings over the years including support for Sage X3 and Datel's own Fusion suite of products.
Now with 54 Support Consultants, Datel’s Support Team has more than doubled in size with Debra as their leader, and are now regarded as the UK's largest support team of any UK Sage business partner. But Debra is the first to admit that she couldn’t have achieved what she has alone;
"The employees on Datel's Support Team mean an awful lot to me, I've worked with them for many, many years and I've always said that my success as a leader isn't just down to me, but is down to the large team of brilliant people that I have behind me. They're proud of the service that they deliver and the reputation that they have, and I hold them all in the highest regard. Nothing that I have achieved would have been possible without such a brilliant bunch of people."
One of the stand-out implementations that Debra has been responsible for during her time at Datel is introducing a completely refreshing outlook on transparency. In her time at Datel, Debra has paved the way for openness and honesty between Datel and our customers by publishing the numerous accreditations of her team, with the complete trust in her team's loyalty and commitment to Datel. Additionally, she has so much faith in the level of customer care that her team provides that she introduced Live Support Feedback to our website: A page that shares each and every comment received from our customers, published undocked for the world to see. The sea of positive comments is something that has put Datel on the map, and her commitment to openness and honesty is a huge part of the legacy she is leaving behind.
Although apprehensive at first at the thought of leaving the team she holds so dearly in her heart in the hands of someone else, Debra was reassured in the decision that Stuart would be her successor. She added;
"I'm passing a well-oiled machine on to Stuart, the strong foundation is there and the entire team are looking forward to working with him. But Stuart is very technical-minded and will bring with him a set of fresh eyes, so I have no doubt that he will continue to drive the Support Team forward and make his mark. I have every faith in Stuart and his dedication to our customer base, I know he will do an amazing job. The department, the team, and the customers are all in safe hands."
Now that she's retiring, Debra and her partner Chris are looking forward to relaxing in sunnier skies with a move to Spain on the horizon.
Stuart Morland, our new Customer Support Director at Datel (2021…)
As sad as we are to see Debra leave, we're excited for the next chapter in Datel's Support Services under their new leader, who is already well-known and much-loved by many of our customers.
One of the things we find very touching about Stuart taking over from Debra is their rich history of working together. Stuart has worked within the Sage community since 1999, joining the Support Team of a smaller Sage business partner, MIH. Debra was actually a customer when Stuart first experienced the tour de force that he would later come to hold with the utmost respect. When Debra moved to work for the same company, he saw first hand her work ethic and complete focus on delivering first-class support. Having worked in varied roles through his time at MIH, he moved to Datel in 2006 to focus on Account Management. As he established himself at Datel, Stuart advised our Executive Chairman, Alan, that in order to move the Datel Support Team forward, he needed to bring in Debra.
"My relationship with Debra has gone from customer, to colleague, to ex-colleague, to colleagues again at Datel, and for me to follow her lead is a massive honour. We've always had a great relationship and worked through many business and customer challenges together. She's uncompromisingly professional. I hope that our professional partnership will continue with a long friendship beyond Datel."
After over a decade in Account Management working closely with our customers, Stuart felt it was time to reach for new heights and fulfil his desire to work in a more operational role. He wanted to play a pivotal part in how Datel grows as a business and the direct decisions that the business makes. His passion was realised in 2019 when he earned his promotion to Business Systems Manager, where he managed the continued delivery, development and support of the internal systems for the business. With much success in his new role, Stuart then became the obvious choice to take over from Debra when she announced her retirement.
"At first, I was really surprised by the invitation to join the Exec team and needed some time to consider whether I felt convinced in my ability to fill such a massive role, but our Managing Director, Andrew, was great and he reassured me that I have what it takes to do this role successfully and make it my own. Debra was the first person I called and knowing I had her full support helped me make my decision quickly. And her support for me during this transition has been unwavering. She has spent so many hours and days working with me over Microsoft Teams, gradually handing over responsibilities and supporting me throughout. Now I feel I’m ready."
And so do we - and wish Stuart the warmest congratulations in his new role. We're looking forward to seeing Stuart thrive in Support making a positive impact, as he has in the other areas of the business he’s touched.
From all of us at Datel, we wish Debra a very happy, well-earned retirement. We hope that every time she clinks a glass of Chablis in Spain, that she knows there’s someone at Datel, feeling grateful for something invaluable she’s taught them.
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