A FORMER RAF engineer is marking his first year as the chief executive officer (CEO) of a Basingstoke business, and has big ambitions for the future.

Jeremy Nash took over the role at Centerprise International in September 2017, having worked for the company for five years.

The 49-year-old father-of-three served for nearly 24 years as an engineering officer with the RAF, and said it was a difficult decision to leave the forces.

But it was becoming increasingly difficult to say goodbye to his family in Wales to go on operational tours, and so at the age of 39 he decided to forge a new career for himself in the business sector.

“I was spending more and more time away from my family and so decided to leave,” he explained, adding: “It was the toughest decision. I really enjoyed my time in the RAF and did class myself as a serviceman.”

His last operational tour was to Afghanistan in 2010.

However, Jeremy managed to find a role in which he could maintain a link with his former air force life when he joined HP Enterprise Services, serving the RAF as one of its customers.

“I was passionate about doing the best for them,” he said.

It was through this role that he was introduced to Centerprise, and later made the transition to working for the medium-sized firm, starting out as a sales director for the Chineham-based company.

He now spends his week in Basingstoke, commuting back to his family home in Wales at the weekend.

And he is still able to serve the forces through Centerprise’s work with the Ministry of Defence offering ICT solutions.

“It’s a rewarding position,” Jeremy said, adding: “The company is heavily focused on defence and that’s part of the attraction, that I’m still able to give something back to the organisation that gave so much to me as a young man.”

Since starting his role as CEO, Jeremy has seen the business go through growth and investment, doubling the number of staff from 100 two years ago to 200 now, and increasing its turnover from £55m to £80m.

Around 40 per cent of the additional staff took on new positions, with the others coming from consolidating some of its smaller companies.

The growth is all part of a strategic plan created two years ago, aimed at moving the 35-year-old business forward with technological advances.

“We decided to write down our strategic intent and I was heavily involved in producing that document and now I’m executing it. We are 12 months into it. It’s the second year of the strategy and as I look back at what we committed to do we are on track, deepening our position in existing markets and expanding into new markets.”

Jeremy said the focus now is to continue to invest in individuals and “drive forward with the strategic plan”, adding: “We will continue to challenge ourselves to deliver innovative solutions making sure we have a good tempo and are focused on what we want to achieve. We are marching towards what we said we would do but we will put some focus and discipline in place to achieve that.”

Jeremy described Centerprise as a “happy” place to work, and said he is proud of all the efforts of staff to give back to the community and charity.

He added: “The company does a great deal to provide the best possible outcomes for its customers. But anyone who is in a thriving business must be doing the same or they wouldn’t survive. That should be expected from customers.

“But what customers can’t expect is the amount of work that this company does and its generosity in giving back to the local community and supporting charities.

“We don’t do it for publicity, but actually it’s something that I’m immensely proud of.”