Techwork 2022: Ash Patel, ECI Partners
Ash Patel joined ECI in 2000 as an IT manager and has since spent 22 years with the firm. Patel brought with him IT consultancy experience from previous corporate roles including Boots, Cadburys and First Western.
At ECI, Patel has a dual role. “First as IT director, managing all technological road mapping, aligning tech to business goals and objectives, and developing a long-term tech strategy,” he explains. “I am also head of cyber, helping ECI’s portfolio companies with cyber security programming and governance, and working with their CTOs to build cyber roadmaps based on cyber gap analysis and risk mitigation.”
During his tenure, Patel has built robust IT systems in the cloud that use the latest tech and are scalable. “Our early shift to the cloud made the transition to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic very easy with minimum fuss,” he says.
“Some of my main achievements for the firm include outsourcing our IT services to a managed service provider (MSP) so I can put a greater focus on the strategy and governance part of IT. I also assisted with the implementation of Salesforce across the business and the outsourcing of our security to a security operation centre for enhanced monitoring and protection.”
Portfolio company cyber security
Regarding his work with portfolio companies, Patel supports them in managing cyber governance and raise security awareness within their organisations, using a top-down approach. “Part of this involved getting cyber security on board agendas – ensuring they were identifying the gaps in their own cyber security defences, making their own decisions about risks and finding the right strategies to counter them,” he says.
“We have also introduced a cyber security framework, which is used to measure the controls in place for both the portfolio and ECI to identify key risks and mitigate them,” he adds.
According to Patel, he is running a number of projects across several portfolio companies at the moment. Specifically, he is helping to build and develop a cyber security program for one portfolio company, and completing a cyber gap analysis for another where he is assisting the team in mitigating cyber risks as well as building a continuous cyber security program.
Furthermore, Patel is reassessing the cyber gap analysis framework for several portfolio companies to gauge progress since their last evaluation to ensure they are effectively managing their cyber security risks.
Patel’s main focus at the fund level is improving and integrating ECI’s IT systems to make them efficient and easy to use, with better performance. “This includes building a data warehouse infrastructure, which is scalable and secure using Microsoft technology, improving ECI’s ability to leverage machine learning (ML), and deal origination,” explains Patel.
Next, Patel wants to focus on data warehousing and ML and AI to automate processes and tasks efficiently.
Regarding his work with portfolio companies, Patel is increasingly involved with the cyber and IT aspects of tech DD, supporting the deal team on upcoming investments and bolt-ons.
“I plan to continue to provide ongoing support to the portfolio on cyber and other risk management areas and help them to mitigate any risks,” says Patel. “In the future, it would be great to have more integration with the portfolio, so we can better share knowledge and best practices.”
Tech stack & network
ECI employs Microsoft Office 365 and Azure cloud as well as Salesforce CRM. Patel is part of an active network of PE IT directors and heads of IT, “collaborating through regular calls and recommendations and sharing experience of various projects.”