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10 minutes with… Trenches’ founder and Managing Director Sharon McDermott

In the month that Trenches marks its second anniversary – plus the launch of a new website and the opening of a third office – we spend ten minutes with founder and Managing Director Sharon McDermott to learn a little more about her, and the company’s journey to date…
  1. How would you sum up the last two years, in less than 100 words?

It’s definitely been a whirlwind, but I am extremely proud of the impact our specialist telecoms law team has made on the world of telecoms.

We’ve each drawn on our experience of working with major brands such as Virgin and BT – in earlier parts of our careers – and are now proud to say that we call firms such as TalkTalk, WightFibre, toob and Virtual 1 some of our most loyal clients. It’s been an incredible journey, but one that I think is really only just beginning.

  1. Why do you think such high-profile brands from the world of electronic communications choose Trenches?

We’ve actually spoken to many of our clients recently, about this very topic. Rather than rely on assumptions we wanted to hear first-hand what makes us different and how we can keep up the level of service they’ve come to expect.

As the testimonials on our clients’ page highlight, there are a number of reasons, including our price-per-premise charging structure for wayleaves, which protects operator margins on their investment model. In this industry the extortionate fees of city law firms just aren’t right. Our business model straight away tells telecoms firms that we understand the challenges they face, and that we’re here to minimise risk while maximising revenues.

When it comes to our counsel, our legal acumen is of course important, as well as our decades of combined industry experience. We know when to push boundaries, who to liaise with to maintain momentum on projects, and we speak the same language as our clients. This approach sees us quickly become an extended member of their team, which we love.

  1. There is a large amount of further change ear-marked for the UK telecoms environment – does this represent an exciting time for your business?

It’s an exciting time for UK connectivity overall. The country actually lags behind some of our European neighbours, when it comes to coverage in both urban and rural areas, but the Government has pledged that things will change by 2025-2027 with 15 million premises having access to gigabit full-fibre to the premise, and the ultimate aim is nationwide  access to gigabit full fibre to the premise coverage by 2033. This means investment levels are vast.

We apply to OFCOM for some of our clients for Code Powers.  Once this is secured, the work really starts. We work with the big connectivity giants and throughout the supply chain too, with the design and build firms who play a large part of the process, also sitting within our customer base.

Aside from the FTTP roll out, and in the electronic communications industry in general, digital transformation has never been such a hot topic. There are so many deals to be done within the wholesale carrier market as a result, which represents another portion of the market for our legal counsel support, in terms of contract negotiations, diversionary works, drafting of template terms and conditions, and more.

  1. Two years after setting up Trenches, have you achieved everything you’d hoped for the company?

I think it would be foolish to suggest the process has been plain sailing from start to finish, as there have been some very long days and learnings along the way. But I think that is part of business, certainly one striving for continuous improvement, and I’ve loved every minute. We now have the strongest team in our journey to date, and all eyes now are on ‘what’s next?’

I loved my time at Virgin, working with people throughout the industry who I remain in close contact with today. Being involved in Project Lightning was also a key highlight. But the process reinforced just how many issues operators face in this world, and I wanted to help them navigate this challenging landscape with confidence, so that their businesses can keep moving. I think we have achieved this, and more, with clients large and small, which I am immensely proud of.

The more companies we work with, the more they approach us for proactive support, rather than simply advice when something goes wrong. This means we’re able to really shape the success of their projects, which is extremely fulfilling.

  1. You’ve recently moved offices – what’s the reason for that?

We’ve actually taken on an additional third space, to give Trenches greater capacity for growth, as well as more geographical reach. Who knows what’s next for our expanding team?!

  1. And now some quickfire questions… What is the main, stand out thing about Trenches?

Our people, our attitude and our flexibility!

  1. Any non-client-related highlights from the last quarter?

Appointing Terry Daniell and launching our new website.

  1. What will you be doing to celebrate your second anniversary?

In a work capacity, hosting an office party to get to know our new neighbours over drinks and nibbles!

  1. How do you most enjoy spending your time outside of work?

Walking my cavapoo, Wilf, with a stop off in one of Hampshire’s wonderful country pubs!

  1. What would you say to an organisation from the telecoms sector, who thinks they may benefit from Trenches’ help?

Contact us – we hope you’ll be refreshingly surprised about the experience you get from our legal team. If you’re not yet brave enough to pick up the phone or drop us an email, connect with me on LinkedIn, follow our company page or keep an eye on our new Twitter account.

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