Conway first joined Select in the spring of 2019, having previously been Head Broker at vehicle funding and management firm Alphabet.
Prior to being made MD, he was Select’s General Manager.
Having been instrumental in Select’s phenomenal growth over the last 18 months, the 45-year-old says much of that success is down to how quickly Select was able to adapt and thrive in the face of a global pandemic.
He explains: “On the first Monday of the first lockdown, we made the decision that we were going to get our heads down and drive as hard as we could through this. In a matter of a week, everyone was working at home with the correct technology, equipment and licences in place. It was a phenomenal achievement.
“And during the pandemic we saw real opportunity for growth. We ramped up our Appointed Representatives (AR) proposition and we now have nine Select Car Leasing locations across the UK.
“That’s substantial growth at any time, but particularly during a global crisis."
“We now have the situation where the leasing of a high value product via e-commerce has been entirely normalised. Everything that everyone has done through the pandemic has been done online. And I believe that actually puts us in a much stronger position coming out the other side of Covid-19.”
Select says an illustration of the rapid growth is the fact that vehicle orders being processed during a typical week have almost doubled in just 18 months.
Conway predicts the average age of a vehicle lease customer will fall slightly in the months and years ahead - and Select is already adopting technology and future solutions to be able to facilitate the next generation of customer.
He adds: “Everything that we’re building is with a mobile device as the primary driver and desktop as the second. Historically, of course, it was always the other way around.”
And while demand has been unprecedented, Conway says Select is in a ‘very fortunate’ position of having a ‘robust’ senior management team, who are ‘rowing in the same direction, and also passionate about satisfying the needs of customers’.
Conway, originally from York, North Yorkshire, says: “We now have a dedicated learning and development channel for onboarding new starters and ARs. And we’re able to re-train existing staff following detailed training need analysis - not just here but across our AR base.
“Recruitment has been really important as we grow and we’re constantly onboarding. In fact, we’ve got 15 people going through our induction programme as we speak.
“We also retain staff, we don’t lose them. The reason we need more staff is purely to service the growth. And the reason we’ve been able to handle the growth is that we’re always driving efficiencies. That comes from a senior management team working in a symbiotic manner, knowing what the other heads of divisions are doing, and the fact we all know precisely which direction we’re travelling. We’re also a lean business and we do not waste resources.”
Another mark of Select’s ambition has been in their recent re-branding of the Reading FC stadium, with the football club being long-standing commercial partners.
Conway’s focus, meanwhile, has been on nurturing relationships and new routes to market.
He says: “I’ve been heavily involved in creating and mobilising our new Select Fleet Solutions brand. We intend to be a real disruptor in the corporate solutions space when it comes to business contract hire, and driving down costs when it comes to running a fleet.
“We’re now in partnership with the likes of ODO, FMG, Masternaut, Allstar and DriveTech and we’ve built a full new fleet proposition that we’re taking to market.
“From a business perspective, we want to make sure firms that operate a fleet of up to 250 vehicles are getting the service they deserve. There’s a real opportunity for us to be able to hold the hand of fleet managers with a modest fleet size.”
So what’s the most enjoyable part of Select?
Conway laughs: “That’s easy! Coming from a corporate background, what’s remarkable about this business - and working with Select’s founders and directors Mark Tongue and James O'Malley - is how we can effect and then embrace change as an agile organisation.
“Change happens so quickly that it’s breathtaking, It’s genuinely phenomenal.”
As for what drives Conway to continue achieving, he adds: “I’m never satisfied with what I’ve delivered. It’s always about what comes next. What drives me is wanting to effect change and I’ve got the belief I can always do more.”