Darren Birt is a director of FHL Cloud Solutions, an award-winning provider of NetSuite products, solutions and services, and a partner at RSM UK.
Darren graduated from Staffordshire University in 2003 with a degree in Internet Technology and now, as a director at FHL, employs more than 50 fellow graduates. FHL has been providing work experience placements for Staffordshire University students for over a decade and is also a sponsor of GradEx, the annual exhibition of project work undertaken by final-year students, and ConnectedFutures, the University’s annual careers festival.
Darren attended Birches Head High School and Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College before choosing Staffordshire University to pursue his interest in IT. His work placement year was spent at Peach Data Services, a local computer networking company, which he later joined as Service Manager after graduating. Darren rose to Operations Director before choosing to leave to co-found his own company with a focus on the cloud-based business solution Oracle NetSuite.
FHL was launched in 2007 and began gaining momentum as sales rose and larger clients came onboard. In 2013 they moved to bigger offices on the same business park where they began, The Courtyard, in Radway Green. Just six years later, they had to move again to house their ever-expanding team – this time to a 32,000 sq ft custom workspace at Infinity House, in Crewe.
The company has grown 30% year-on-year, including revenue, profitability and staff numbers. They now employ around 80 staff, with more than 60% of those being from Staffordshire University, having launched a placement scheme with the University in 2011.
That same year, the company won the NetSuite award for Partner of the Year for Europe, Middle East and Africa for the first time – an award they went on to win a record seven times in eight years. In 2017, FHL was acquired by RSM UK, a leading provider of audit, tax and consulting services, which has allowed the company to continue building on its success as the leading provider of NetSuite products, solutions and services.
The Award of Honorary Doctor of Staffordshire University is bestowed upon Darren in recognition of him being a truly inspirational example of an enterprising Staffordshire University graduate, who has grown a start-up company into a successful business employing more than 80 members of staff. The award also acknowledges his outstanding and continuous contribution to the University, offering work experience opportunities and training to placement students, enabling them to prepare for graduate level roles by transforming their raw talent into technical knowledge and expertise.