2023: A Grand Slam Year for Options – Three Decades in the Making

From Milestones to Microsoft, Growth to Giving back, and everything in between, 2023 has been a year unlike any other…join us as we reflect on our top 10 reasons why…

1. Cloud Revolution: Securing Five Microsoft Solutions Partner Designations

The realm of Solutions Partner Accolades with Microsoft might not seem like a grand spectacle, but for us, this marks a significant milestone that’s been a year in the making! As we embarked on the journey in early 2023, we strategically identified five Microsoft Competencies that seamlessly align with our business, sector demands, and client requirements.

Fast-forward twelve months; we now have 180+ Microsoft certifications; 172 Microsoft Cloud tenants deployed, baselined, and preserved; 10,000+ Office 365 users on our platform and 18,000+ tickets resolved.

Our Cloud Team led Options on a “Road to Gold” campaign, cementing our status as the best in the world at delivering Microsoft Cloud solutions and the only one with the full suite of SOC, security and compliance credentials!

2. Fast Lane to the Future: Launching 100Gb Connectivity with StrataNet

In a year packed with high-speed excitement, Options hit the fast lane by launching 100Gb connectivity with the introduction of StrataNet. The announcement marked a significant stride in our commitment to cutting-edge technology and next-level performance. It’s not just about speed; it’s about leading the way in the tech race. The launch of 100Gb ultra-low latency access via a single port is a testament to Options’ dedication to staying on the pulse of innovation. Buckle up, because the journey into the future just got a whole lot faster.

3. Opening New Doors in the City of Lights

Among the many events of 2023, one standout moment takes the spotlight: the grand opening of our Paris office. This strategic expansion comes on the heels of substantial growth in Toronto, Chicago, and Auckland, marking a significant stride forward for Options in Europe.

Establishing a local presence in Paris is poised to elevate client service, extend our regional reach, and fortify our ongoing growth trajectory. It also enhances our global footprint, with Emma Sharkey and her team at the helm, steering us towards new opportunities and successes in 2024.

4. Powerful Partnerships: Elevating Data Services and ESG Practices

 In October, we proudly unveiled a five-year global investment in Pure Storage, a truly monumental leap in revolutionising data services for the global capital markets. With our strategic alliance, we are poised to deliver faster access to market data and unlock deeper data insights for our clients in emerging markets, enabling them to navigate the ever-evolving landscape with unprecedented precision and agility.

Later in the year we strengthened our partnerships with Sustainable Trading and Equinix, demonstrating our commitment to implementing best practices in the sector for Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG). By reinforcing these alliances, we strive to contribute to sustainable and responsible trading practices, ensuring that our operational goals align with the highest standards in ESG.

5. Tech Forum Triumph: Unveiling the Power of our 30 Year Legacy

With a record-breaking 52 industry events attended in 2023, it’s been a year of building bridges, sparking conversations, and setting the stage for the future — a theme that continued with our winter and summer Tech Forums in London and NYC. These forums were not your average tech talks; they were vibrant exchanges of ideas, expert insights, and a shared vision for the future.

Our commitment to fostering meaningful connections and keeping our valued clients and partners up to speed with the latest from our integrated services and the cutting-edge technology that fuels them. We didn’t just share a roadmap; we paved the way for the next 50 years of innovation and excellence. 

6. Scaling New Heights for Vital Causes

It’s been a year of meaningful strides and impactful partnerships for Options, proving that making a difference is at the heart of our game. From ‘Rock for Air’ concerts to pickleball and golf tournaments, as well as CrossFit and 5-a-Side challenges, in 2023, we really went the extra mile for our charity partners. We smashed the Mourne Wall Challenge, conquering 14 summits and raising an impressive £32,061 for PIPS Suicide Prevention Ireland. This marked our second initiative for the organisation, following a £25,000 charity auction earlier in the year.

Over the year we also supported organisations such as the American Lung Association, the AITEC Gives Back Foundation, Cavernoma Alliance and Solving Kids Cancer.

7. Are you really working in a global tech company, if you’re not, Going Places? 

You need a serious hunger for travel to power a global tech company, and 2023 was the year our team showed just how global we really are, and that ‘Going Places’ is not just a company mantra, but a tangible reality at Options…

More than half the under 30s (and a few seasoned jetsetters) hit the road to destinations that included London, Frankfurt, Geneva, Dubai, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Singapore, Auckland, Tokyo, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, Toronto, New York, Washington, Miami, and Boston.

In total, our adventurous team completed a staggering 1,300+ international journeys across 50+ unique destinations.

8. Hello world, Belfast calling!

Our Belfast headquarters took centre stage as the host of Options’ award-winning Graduate and Placement Programme, and a warm reunion for our teammates, clients, and partners who enjoyed everything the city has to offer.

We kicked off the year by joining forces with the MAC Belfast to create an unforgettable reunion with the cast and creator of the beloved series, Derry Girls, celebrating the magic of storytelling and shared experiences, from the Walled City to Wall Street no less!

Adding a touch of athleticism to our portfolio, April saw Options proudly becoming sponsors of the Queen’s University Rowing Club, reinforcing our dedication to supporting local communities and fostering growth in unexpected places. These powerful partnerships reflect our ongoing pursuit of excellence, collaboration, and the creation of lasting, impactful connections, and careers.

September heralded the announcement of 200 new jobs and the completion of our brand-new on-site gym and ground floor AI-hub.

Come late December, all roads led to the long-awaited Christmas celebrations at The Titanic Hotel – featuring one of the biggest office parties of the year, if not the decade!

As we bid farewell to 2023, there’s no denying that 2024 has some big shoes to fill in the Belfast buzz department!

9. Champions at Heart: Celebrating Victories and Key Leadership Appointments

In a year packed to the brim with action, it quickly became clear that we were destined for a triumphant run on the awards circuit. The accolades poured in, leaving us musing at the need for a bigger awards shelf to accommodate the recognitions garnered last year.

Here’s a glance at our impressive array of victories:

2023 Awards Summary:

  • ‘IT Team or Department of the Year’ at the Belfast Telegraph IT Awards.
  • ‘Best Cloud Solution Services’ award at the Private Equity Wire European Emerging Manager Awards in London.
  • ‘Employer for the Future’ at the 2023 Irish News Workplace and Employment Awards.
  • ‘Best Cloud Services Provider’ at the Private Equity Wire European Awards 2023.

In late December, we proudly announced three pivotal leadership appointments, setting the stage for a dynamic succession strategy. Laura McCann, promoted to the role of Chief Financial Officer, Claire McKillen steps into the position of Vice President, Financial Controller and Jenni Sellick, who takes on the role of Vice President, Legal and Commercial Manager.

These key senior appointments not only fortify our leadership team but also present an incredible opportunity for ambitious finance professionals based in Belfast and a chance for up-and-coming talent to gain hands-on experience in our rapidly evolving business, so stay tuned for more exciting announcements in the new year.

10. 30 Years of Excellence: A Global Capital Markets Milestone

Options’ journey began in 1991 when founder, Nigel Kneafsey, then aged 14, entered a competition in Computer Magazine to build a high-performance workstation. After winning the competition he received a call from the London office of Goldman Sachs who offered him a consulting opportunity to build hardware for the trading floor. A few years later in 1993, when Nigel was legally able to become a company director, Options was incorporated as a hedge fund technology services provider.  

Today, Options is the No. 1 provider of IT infrastructure and market data to the global Capital Markets, with a rapidly growing team of over 550 employees supporting their operations and ecosystems.

As we fondly reminisce the year, and all three decades that have led to where we are today, we’re filled with gratitude for the incredible friends, clients, colleagues, and partners that joined us to mark the occasion across each of our regional offices. Check out some of the highlights in our 𝐋𝐨𝐧𝐝𝐨𝐧, NYC, Toronto and Chicago photo galleries!

With excitement, we look forward to 2024 and the chapters yet to be written in the legacy of Options!

On behalf of everyone at Options, we say thank you, Happy Holidays and see you in 2024!