By Rosa Saba
John Proctor came to Martello Technologies at a time when the company was gearing up for change. From the acquisition of Montreal firm Elfiq in January to the recent announcement that Martello will be going public, the new CEO had – and still has – a lot on his plate.
Never one to step down from a challenge, the Canadian and British Forces veteran and former vice-president of global cyber security at CGI rolled up his sleeves and got to work preparing the company for what was sure to be a busy 2018.
It’s a good thing Proctor is no stranger to big change. When he first arrived in Toronto to fill his new role with CGI in 2011, he remembers being struck by the stark difference between his work in the military and the new challenges he was about to face.
“I remember getting off the train at Union Station in Toronto and walking out of Union and looking up at all these skyscrapers, thinking, ‘How on earth do I climb these?’” he says. “And I can remember just being rooted to the spot.”
He didn’t stay still for long, though. Proctor says the key to adapting to business after life in the military was to ask questions, to be open to learning new ways of doing things, and – most importantly – to find people who could guide him along the way.
“You’ve got to learn,” says Proctor. “It’s reaching out, it’s finding mentors, it’s finding people who can guide you.”
After six years at CGI, Proctor was ready for another big change. This time, instead of going from one large organization to another, he would be stepping into the much bigger role of CEO at a much smaller company – Ottawa’s Martello, a software developer focused on enterprise communications systems and one of the capital’s fastest-growing companies.
“Was there initial nerve? Absolutely. Initial doubts and fears? Absolutely,” says Proctor. But he realized the company’s stakeholders saw something in him, and the opportunity was too good to pass up.
Despite his title, Proctor says he hasn’t forgotten the importance of “humble pie” as he leads Martello onto the TSX-V through the reverse takeover of Vancouver shell company Newcastle Energy Corp. He’ll be working closely with former CEO Bruce Linton, now the co-chair of Martello’s board along with Terry Matthews. Proctor is also a mentor himself, and the founder of the Ex-Military Businessmen Association’s Ottawa chapter.
Martello’s decision to go public isn’t one undertaken by many other companies its size. But Proctor says he sees the move as an opportunity to show the public that there is confidence in Martello’s growth from its investors and its client base – a group that the acquisition of Elfiq expanded, giving way to an upcoming line that combines both Elfiq’s and Martello’s products into one. Where previously Martello’s technology could only monitor networks and identify problems, Elfiq’s technology adds the capability to find solutions to those problems.
The new system “can not only monitor all your unified communications, but then it can use that software-defined networking ability to prioritize the traffic,” says Proctor, adding that demand for this type of technology is only going to grow. “We aren’t a fad. As you add more requirements and data, we become more in demand, which is a great place to be.”
As the company moves forward and onto the public listing, Proctor says more acquisitions like this will be key to Martello’s growth and success. However, he says it’s as much about the people Martello is acquiring as it is about the products – he wants people and companies that are aligned with Martello’s values.
As the company scales up, he’s focused on maintaining the positive workplace culture that has already been established, regardless of size – and he sees the Kanata North tech community as the perfect place to continue that careful growth.
“If it’s the wrong people with the right product, we’re not interested,” he says. “As we grow those pieces, I think that’s a fabulous story … I just think that this is a fabulous time for us to be here and for us to grow here.”
John Proctor’s resume
Vice-president, global cyber security
Vice-president, risk operations
British and Canadian Armed Forces