What was your first job, and how did you get into IT?
I qualified as a mechanical and production engineer before working at a Ben Shaws soft drinks bottling plant in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. The most popular flavour was dandelion and burdock.
Planes, trains or automobiles?
Planes, because I love to travel, and have done so extensively for both work and holiday. Even though I can't sleep on a plane and especially as I feel totally exhausted after a longer series of flights, it's because it's the quickest way to get there, I still prefer to fly.
What sport should be in the Olympics?
Rugby (Union or League). It doesn't get enough air time.
What could prompt you to give it all up and join the revolution?
Winning the lottery! Although you do have to be in it to win it, so perhaps an unknown distant relative leaving me a fortune to pay off the house and buy my yacht to sail around the world.
What is your favourite joke or the one you heard most recently?
An alleged conversation between Nancy Astor and Winston Churchill.
Astor: "Sir, if you were my husband, I would give you poison."
Churchill: "If I were your husband I would take it."
What was your best business trip ever?
A trip around the Middle East, to confirm and collect $1m in orders -- a large system we sold to a large, prestigious hospital, and another from the military. Finally we went to Dubai to attend the Arab Health Expo. The first person to whom I demonstrated our speech recognition software was Prince Andrew.
What was the best holiday you ever went on?
My fiancee and I went on a trip to Africa where we had a few days in Pilanesberg wildlife park to see the Big Five followed by four days at Victoria Falls in the Livingstone Hotel -- one of the best I've ever stayed in, on the banks of the River Zambezi a few hundred metres from Victoria Falls -- close enough to hear the water thundering over the edge. We flew by helicopter over the falls, and the following day rafted the river, experiencing some thrilling rapids.
What would your superpower be?
To be able to teleport instead of flying. Arriving in an instant, not hours or days.
If someone shrunk you to the size of a pencil and put you in a blender, how would you get out?
I would use my aforementioned teleporting super power and teleport myself out before it got switched on.
Print or online news?
Online! Print is old hat; reducing forests is not good and online provides instant access to information. Failing that, you can always hit delete.
Do you use social media?
LinkedIn is a valuable tool for research in my professional capacity. Facebook for personal access. It is great to see what friends and old acquaintances are doing.
Your closest near-death experience?
I was diving in the Caribbean last year and on one dive on a wreck at approximately 25 metres down and 40 minutes in, I turned around to check on my buddy, and my air supply pipe got snagged on a piece of metal off the wreck, tearing a hole and allowing the air to escape. I had a third of a tank left.
By the time I'd checked my air gauge, and looked around for other divers, I was virtually out of air. Fortunately the dive master spotted this and came to the rescue, offering his spare regulator. As this was 30 seconds later, my heart was certainly pumping increased adrenalin around my body, and this was a huge relief!
Is IT well taught in schools?
It is even introduced at kindergarten now. However, the knock-on effect is clear from the amount of time that kids spend on TV and computer games instead of running around outside with their friends.
Jonathan Whitmore is UK and Ireland channel manager at Nuance Communications
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