The field service industry made it’s final farewells to a trusted friend, guide and mentor yesterday as one of it’s leading lights Steve Downton was laid to rest after a long fight with Cancer.
Personally I only had the pleasure of speaking with Steve on a couple of occasions. Firstly when I took over the editorial reigns of the now closed Service Management Online and still wet behind the ears in terms of field service, I made sure Steve was one of the first people in the industry I turned to for advice from as his reputation for being both a brilliant thinker and genuine good guy was well renowned right across the sector.
In that first conversation, Steve displayed both of these qualities plus an abundance of industry knowledge that set me in good stead and his willingness to help and his sheer passion for the industry shone through throughout the hour or so that we spoke.
And then secondly Steve was one of the first people I looked to for guidance when we decided to launch Field Service News and I’d like to think that the course we are steering with FSN is very much inline (and will continue to remain so) of Steve’s own objectives with his own Service Community, i.e delivering high quality insight and analysis for all field service professionals, so we can all continue to learn and grow together as this ever fascinating industry evolves.
The following comments are from others in the industry who knew and worked alongside Steve for far longer than I and I think are a fitting testament to how well respected and well loved Steve was within the Field Service community.
If you would like to add your own thoughts and memories of Steve please feel free to do so in the comments section below:
"Everyone is special, but there are some who have that little bit ‘more light’ about them. Steve Downton was one of those people. For the past 30 years he has truly been on the cutting edge of service innovation thinking in the real world of UK business. With a razor sharp mind and an openness to the world around him, Steve kept that half step ahead of the rest of us. His passion for the role of services in industry drove his career in leading consulting businesses such as Coopers & Lybrand, Accenture and Noventum. For many years he ran his own consulting firm, supporting hundreds of clients to increase their value from services.
His Outside-In, Positive, People centric approach with a touch of humility epitomised some of the key attributes to be successful in services. Although his life on this world was tragically to short, I myself along with many others will count ourselves fortunate to have been touched by this extra-ordinary man."
Nick Frank. Noventum Service Management
“Steve worked with us for several years. His experience in the industry was unmatched and he could see things in a different way to others. But what struck me most was that he was simply one of those chaps that you liked to meet-up with and work with. A warm hearted, super-friendly person, yet with a razor sharp mind that facilitated new views about old subjects. He will be sorely missed by all.”
Paul Adams. Solarvista
“Steve was just nice man who had seen it, done it, wanted to make a difference and did. His service management knowledge and its application is making many end users around EMEA satisfied and the delivery companies profit. The greatest contribution any man can give is willingness to help, and Steve did that in abundance and the industry is in better place thanks to Steve`s contributions"
Glyn Dodd, Centrex Services
"We worked closely with Steve over a number of years and he was a major contributor to our educational and seminar content at Service Management Expo, where his sessions were always popular and engaging. His depth of knowledge and standing in the community was second to none, but more significantly he was a gentleman to work with and much liked by all that knew him."
Fergus Bird. Event Manager, Service Management Expo
“There are few people that positively inspire you from the moment you meet them, Steve Downton was one of them. Having met Steve in the late 90’s when working at HP, we kept in touch over the years and collaborated on numerous projects.
Steve was THE customer services expert that you could always count on. He would bring a customer centric, “out side in”, up to date, content rich, but most of all pragmatic approach to how to deliver excellent profitable customer services. Most of all he was a gentle, warm and genuine person to know and I and many others miss him greatly.”
Martin Summerhayes. Fujitsu
“I had known and worked with Steve for over 14 years, and whilst his knowledge of the industry was second to none, his key strengths are how he engaged with everyone, engineer or CEO, making them immediately at ease. Even if you were in a roomful of people, you felt he was talking to you and engaging everyone.
Wherever he is now, I know he will be making people smile. A true special soul and what I hope is that his enthusiasm and spirit will live on and rub off on all of us”
Simon Spriggs. Exel
“Steve helped me greatly, both personally and professionally. He carried an empathy and insight in his field of specialty which was matched in his one to one, personal relationships.
There was never a hidden side to Steve. In a world full of questionable motives where words often exchanged without meaning, he was one of the few genuine characters. He said what he meant and he always thought of others.”
Saul Sherry. Former Editor, Service Management.