By Marcus Leach
Cloud computing entrepreneur, Piers Linney, is unveiled as The Secret Millionaire on Channel 4’s prime time documentary next week.
In next week’s Secret Millionaire Piers gets up close and personal with the inmates of Brinsford Young Offenders’ Institution in Wolverhampton, where he sees at first hand why they’ve landed up on the wrong side of the law, and he questions himself with searing honesty about whether giving direct personal help could ever break the cycle of crime these youngsters had entered into.
The encounter is a far cry from the boardroom of Outsourcery, one of the UK’s fast growing cloud computing companies, where Piers is the Joint CEO and a major shareholder. Raised by his Barbadian mother and English father in the Lancashire mill town of Bacup where he attended his local comprehensive school, he rapidly became a City high flyer after qualifying as a solicitor and becoming an investment banker, and running in hedge funds and venture capital funds. Piers features in the Power List as one of the top 100 most influential black Britons, for the past two years running. Piers has often remarked at the stark absence of reflections of himself in the City and the sectors in which he has operated.
During nine days of filming, Piers ended up working with charities which operate inside Brinsford Young Offenders’ Institution, in particular a literacy scheme called Toe by Toe, a mentoring system where literate prisoners tutor others, as 60% of the prison population have low literacy levels. “Learning the ‘simple’ skill of reading can be a life changing event as it suddenly opens a number of doors for people who feel they cannot break the self-destructive chain of events their life has taken on,” said Piers. “It empowers them, reducing the feeling of helplessness and providing a means to change the course of their lives themselves. Education is absolutely fundamental to social mobility and if you can’t read then you don’t have a chance.”
As well as Toe to Toe, he also meets Alan Smith who runs Brindsford’s arm of a national charity, ‘Storybook Dads’ which facilitates prisoners to record bedtime stories on CDs that are sent home for their children to listen to. This became very relevant to Piers during filming as he spent two weeks away from his two year old daughter with very limited communication. Storybook Dads was started to provide much needed parental contact for the approximately 160,000 children separated from parents in prison.
Much of Piers’ success has been down to his visionary insight and keen interest in innovation — Outsourcery spotted the potential for the growth in demand for Cloud computing three years ago, and began an aggressive investment programme. Within three years, Outsourcery has become a world-leading Cloud Service Provider and a driving force in the adoption of Cloud-based software and communications solutions by UK businesses of all sizes. Outsourcery’s success coupled with a number of previous entrepreneurial ventures, has put him a position to participate in The Secret Millionaire and lay a platform for further philanthropic activities.