CRN: Describe your job?
When my surgeon asked me what I did, I said I took business partners out for dinner in the capital cities of Europe. Now the job includes the Middle East and Africa, I am able to widen my taste bud horizons, if not my suit measurements.
What was your first job?
Analyst in the management services unit of Tarmac.
How much did it pay, and was that fair?
£900 a year, but I got free pork pies and pork scratchings (it’s a West Midlands thing). Was it fair? Probably. My wife earned more as a teacher and she thought it fair. But now that I earn five times what she does and she thinks this is unfair.
Why did you leave?
My wife was pregnant so I needed more money.
Who’s the worst boss you ever had?
My employers at Tarmac, because we were thrown into acquisitions with little or no guidance or support.
How did you get into IT?
I qualified as an engineer, but realised I did not want to wear Wellington boots.
Do you have any IT qualifications, or any other unusual qualifications?
I know how to buy a round of drinks. Does that qualify?
Have you ever written a computer program?
Yes, to simulate spacecraft flight to the moon in Fortran IV. Needless to say, the simulation of the British attempt always crash-landed on earth.
Would you rather be McNealy, Gates or Ellison?
Ellison. He does a better class of put-down.
What would you have done if you hadn’t gone into IT?
Industrial Psychologist. I was offered a sponsored place to read Industrial Psychology at Birbeck. It appealed because I like understanding human interaction.
What’s the secret of a successful career?
Drive, detail and determination, and a good woman.
What do you inspire most in colleagues: trust, fear, respect or jealousy?
You would have to ask them.
‘Golf is a good walk spoiled.’ Do you agree?
Totally, and at the end of 18 holes I can think of better bars I’d wish to spend my time in.
What’s the most memorable sporting occasion you’ve ever witnessed?
England v Australia at the Rugby World Cup, for pure adrenalin.
Which is the most dynamic and inspiring IT vendor?
Applix, because it helps organisations make better decisions. If I’m not allowed to say that, though, then Apple for sheer style.
Are there any companies you wouldn’t work for?
ICL (now Fujitsu) and IBM. It’s a clothes thing.
Which IT multinational would you like to run?
IBM, if only to loosen up their clothes culture.
Have you ever punched anyone?
No, I might hurt myself.
In what IT-related markets does the UK lead Europe?
Intelligence. Ask QinetiQ, but it’s classified so you might not get an answer.
Is the US inherently more entrepreneurial than the UK?
Yes, but they also buy more risky investments.
Is it true that there is a prevailing anti-success culture in the UK?
Not in sales. We leave that to the finance department.
Should the euro be abolished?
Not while we have our holiday place in Venice.
What’s the most exciting holiday you ever went on?
Skiing in Whistler, Canada. Skiing in a blizzard makes for a very exciting time.
Is distribution doomed?
Never. Good software development is often achieved at the cost of delivery ability, so the channel is needed to manage and meet customers’ needs in the application of technology to the business.
If not, what’s the successful distribution model of the future?
For mature products, a multi-layered model where some partners operate in a single layer and others in two. With emerging technology, simple flat distribution models work better.
What is the best deal you’ve ever done?
I ran an offshore start-up from scratch and secured software development project initial order for over £275,000 with day rates of less than £200 per day. I made a lot of money.
How far would you go to get your way at work and what lengths have you gone to?
My colleagues think I go too far. I can’t discuss how far, so you had better ask them.
What is your favourite book?
Tibetan Book of the Dead. It was my grunge phase. There is no such thing as a best book. In context, the book that grabbed me most recently was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. The sheer ability of a writer to put themselves into the place of someone with Aspergers Syndrome. That kind of skill is something all sales people should respect.
What is your favourite CD?
Again, there’s no such think as a favourite. I rely on my youngest son to keep me alive in the music stakes. Ray LaMontagne – “the new Dylan” – was his latest contribution. Others include Pet Sounds for the experiences I was having, Blue by Joni for my time at University, Gimme Shelter, Chelsea Morning, Tapestry, The U2 one with New York on it…
Who has been the best James Bond? Who should be the next one?
There was only one: Sean Connery. Quentin Tarantino, just to raise the blood and body count.
If you could have three wishes, what would you do with them?
Give one to my wife and one to each of my sons.
What is the worst accident you have had in your company car without the company finding out?
I’m not sure if the insurance company passed the details on, but I did have an amazing accident where I had to tell the insurance company that my car was written off while stationary. A stampede of cows in Somerset put another driver off so much that he had a head on collision with me. The worst bit was that this was less than six months from an accident near the same location, where a lorry stalled crossing a major road, forcing me to hit it and nearly write of the car. Fact is always stranger than fiction.
Is life better up north or down south, and what do you base your judgment on?
In the north you have more time to realise that more happens in the south. Living in the north and working in the south gives you an interesting “double vision”.
How do you relax, and do you find it easy to switch off out of work?
I find fresh air or competitive activities totally relaxing, whether it is croquet, skiing, sailing, sun bathing or reading. Switching off is easy, and normally aided by a glass of wine.
Tell us your favourite joke or the joke you heard most recently.
The one about the father telling his son what the word “politics” means…and I am not repeating it here.
Who do you loathe most in the industry?
I do not loathe people.
Who will be the most important IT executive over the next two years?
The person who makes the “super” internet a reality.
Why is CRN your favourite IT publication?
It’s where resellers who are looking for value should read.
Do you prefer IBM, Hewlett-Packard or Dell, and why?
Dell. They have made buying and supporting a simple and effective service.
Do you prefer cricket, football or rugby?
Rugby. A hooligans game, played by gentlemen.
Complete this sentence: “At the Channel Awards, I...”
...came, I saw, I conquered.
Do you spend more than two hours a week using a PC at home?
Not on your life. I associate the PC with work, so any leisure time is strictly spent off the PC where possible.
What factors do you think gave you the success you have had?
Interacting with people makes work enjoyable and is essential to success. Being a good listener makes life a lot easier in meeting your objectives.
Which is your favourite city?
Manhattan, for the energy and sheer style.
Do you like animals?
Not really, especially when I was dressed in a cowboy outfit and ended up trotting down the middle of a busy highway in Portugal on a donkey.
Tell us a good dot com business idea.
www.mybutler.com – which organises your personal life and pulls in the resources to make life easy.
What’s the worst web site you’ve seen?
Which is more satisfying: money or power?
Power – it generates money.
What’s a better status symbol: a car or a boat?
With a boat, you can burn £10 notes much faster.
Would you rather have a cool house in the country or a top city penthouse?
Penthouse every time…I have the cool house in the country.
Can you be too rich? Are you sure?
Is the IT industry sexist?
Unfortunately yes, but it is time for a good shake up, so step up ladies.
Is the IT industry ageist?
Less so in the last 10 years.
Is the IT industry racist?
I do not think so.
Which is the better film: Withnail & I or Gone With the Wind?
Gone With the Wind – I am a romantic.
Is there a future for the indirect channel?
There is absolutely a need for the indirect channel. While we have diversity in need and a choice of solution, then who else is there to help, advise and share the work involved?
Is there a future for the system builder channel?
Yes. Who would you rather go to for advice and service, an independent insurance broker or one tied to the insurance company? Complexity of need and the use of IT for competitive advantage will drive demand for an “independent” view of the solution.
Is there a future for the PC reseller channel?
To me the future looks less certain. The resellers who survive will do so on the basis of scale – driving out the independent sector – and specialisation. The smaller PC reseller will only survive by finding a niche it can defend against the chains and tied outlets.
Is there a future for an independent UK IT industry?
I hope so. The UK has always been a source for good ideas in technology. Our challenge has been to establish leadership in execution. The only question remains is “is the UK a large enough market for local players to be able to operate in against global competitors?” Surely the goal we should be setting ourselves is to grow our businesses to be able to operate in a pan-European manner, securing and servicing European customers.
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