Career so far: I’ve spent 26 years in a variety of sales, sales management and main board director positions in the UK, Europe and USA. I have worked for vendors, partners and, of course, distribution, and I’ve also done a major stint in managed services/ISP. Companies include Arrow ECS, DNS Arrow, InTechnology, Planet Online/Energis, Digital, Radius Software, Data General and Microvitec.
If you could be anyone else for a week, who would you be and what would you do? As a businessman, I think the most interesting person to be right now would be David Cameron during this time of deficit reduction. It would be very interesting to see how his role in reducing the deficit and managing budgets reflects what we in business have had to do for some time now during a tough economic climate. It really resonates with me, and I would find it very intriguing to be on the inside track now to see what is really going on.
What would you have as your last meal? As a northern lad to the end, it would have to be fish and chips and a couple of pints of Black Sheep Ale (in Whitby, North Yorkshire).
What is the best corporate jolly you have ever been on/taken partners on? Like a lot people, I have been fortunate enough to attend most of the major corporate events and more. But over the past year I’ve changed tack and have been taking out some of our senior customers with their partners or wives, together with my wife, for more personal and informal dinners. I have found these to be not only extremely entertaining and interesting, but also very productive. They have also reminded me how important personal relationships are at a senior level. Having said that, on one occasion, my wife and the customer’s wife saw the lunch as a chance to gang up on us both, so a word of caution to anyone out there thinking of doing the same.
Do you see the cloud as a threat or an opportunity? Despite my initial scepticism, I now believe that the cloud concept is a trend which will eventually change the way in which IT architecture will be implemented. Looking forward, our short to medium-term plan is to focus on helping our customers become ‘cloud ready’ and build architectures that enable them to embrace cloud as it develops, without rushing in.
Have any of your predictions come true this year? Many of the issues I highlighted last year, such as too much duplication, became a reality. But equally I think we have successfully and constructively handled these challenges because we anticipated them. We have also entered into much more transparent discussions with our vendors and customers to ensure that we are all are getting a fair share of the rewards and return on investment.
What do you see as the channel’s biggest challenge in 2011? I think we are going to see the emergence of a whole new channel. There is massive polarisation in the VAR channel, where the big are getting bigger and the smaller are getting smaller or even disappearing. In the middle, we are seeing the resurgence of ISVs, service providers and direct marketing organisations. This is changing the dynamics and it is no longer clear what everyone’s role is. We will need to clearly redefine who sits where in the channel structure and who is selling to whom.
What is the best part of your day? Last year I said it was mornings, especially Saturdays. I would say I’m still definitely a morning person, but even more so a Saturday morning person.
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