Steve “Stitch” Hindle, SYKES Director of Global Security, was watching the situation unfold in Egypt. Nerves were raw.
It was 2011, and the “Arab Spring” was in full blossom in Tahrir Square in Cairo as angry mobs swarmed the streets demanding the overthrow of their government.
Hindle worried for the SYKES employees there. Two chief concerns pressed on him – how to evacuate the foreign nationals in Egypt who were in the country for SYKES and how to keep the Egyptian employees safe.
“Each moment was tense,” recalls Hindle, a native of Lancashire, England, who goes by the nickname “Stitch.” “The team worked 36 hours straight at one point. No breaks. No stops.”
Stitch and team were prepared for anything to keep SYKES employees safe. “We had an organization on standby,” Stitch recalls, “with a charter aircraft ready to fly into Cairo, land and get our people out.” Luckily, they made it on the last commercial flight. But the team’s efforts were no less heroic when it came to protecting the Egyptian employees.
“There were tanks on the streets, no clear difference between who was a bad guy and a good guy. I was talking to one employee who had crowds of people with clubs, bottles, stones and guns walking past his door. I kept him on the phone through it all until we could move him out to a safe shelter.”
The SYKES site in the Maadi section of Cairo remained open throughout the uprising. The operations team had supplies brought in, including food, water and bedding. Employees wanted to work but getting to and from the site was a concern. “We told them we could get them there via safe transport, you can stay here, we’ll feed you, you can sleep here, so you don’t have to travel back and forth. And when the troubles die down, we can take you home.”
When calm did begin returning to Egypt, Stitch and team knew they had done well. “It was really good to see the reactions of the people and know that these are people who will never forget what SYKES did for them. They know as a company we looked after them.”
It’s this approach, a commitment to the “People Serving People” philosophy that guides Stitch’s path. “I like helping people. It’s how I’ve built my entire career.” For someone responsible for security, and capable of planning a daring airport rescue like the one he prepared for Cairo, Stitch is remarkably upbeat and sunny.
As Director of Global Security, Stitch is devoted to preventing “bad things” from happening by working to see people get help when they need it. “In security, detection is the awful part, response is the worst part. It’s better to prevent bad things in the first place. So my focus is on human beings. We can recognize when there is a problem, and we can get people help. Avoiding help builds pressure and stress in a person, he says. This can lead to “good people making bad decisions.” Help and intervention can alleviate this pressure. “If you can prevent, then the detection and response go away.” Stitch points to the SYKES Employee Relief Fund and the security hotline (877-275-8833) as two places employees can seek help.
If Stitch has an inspiration in his life for how he treats other people, it’s his grandfather. “There was never anything in my grandfather that wasn’t gentleman-like. I would always walk alongside him, at his knee. He would open doors for ladies and always tip his hat. He carried himself well. Tall. Proud. I thought, if I’m going to be anything, I’m going to be that.”
Stitch also admired his grandfather’s career path. He fought Rommel in Africa as a member of the British Royal Air Force in World War II. During the war, he managed munitions logistics. In peacetime, he became an accountant. “After the war, he managed the flow of money instead of the flow of brass,” Stitch jokes.
Stitch also wanted to serve but was ineligible for military service due to nerve damage and hearing loss. “If I couldn’t have a military career I’d follow in his footsteps by becoming a bean counter,” Stitch recalls. There was one problem. “It turns out I’m terrible with numbers.” He seemed to do well with computers, though, and started a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science.
The degree led to jobs in computing with financial institutions in Scotland, before he moved to McQueen Limited, which was acquired by SYKES in 1997. Stitch has been part of the SYKES family ever since. Stitch’s role evolved from IT through technical security to ultimately his current position.
While Stitch’s inspiration for who he is may come from the past – his grandfather – his motivation to improve himself and safeguard the security of those around him is inspired by his daughter, Jo. “Jo is my entire world. That’s why I do what I do. This planet is not our world. We’re just caretakers for the next generation. That’s why we’ve got to look after it, and do the right thing. It’s Jo’s world. I’m just looking after it the best way I can.”
Stitch is currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice with a specialization in Homeland Security from St. Leo University, taking advantage of a SYKES scholarship and the fact that St. Leo offers classes at the SYKES Lakeland facility. Stitch is applying himself. He’s made the Dean’s List (achieving one of the highest GPA’s in his class group) and is expecting to complete the course in half the time it normally takes. “I was very fortunate to be awarded the scholarship. I would not have been able to knock this out so quickly without SYKES’ support.”