What was your first job, and how did you get into IT?
Making doner kebabs by hand. After that I tried roofing until I realised I didn’t like heights, then worked as a tyre fitter, and for HFC bank selling loans.
One day, a man was upgrading the computer systems and I was bored so I asked him to show me how it all worked. This sparked my interest in IT. Afterwards I opened a shop selling computer games, until I got my first IT job for a small shop installing operating systems and servers. After two years, I left to join PSINet, where I became intrigued by networking technology.
What could prompt you to give it all up and join the revolution?
Nature or animals. I am a great lover of animals and I live on a farm with horses, ponies, goats, guinea pigs, cats, dogs, chickens and soon, hopefully, pigs. I am an avid carnivore, but I detest cruelty to animals. I think I could live in a rainforest somewhere and look after monkeys, or on a ranch and just ride horses every day.
What do you say to those who claim the world will end on 21 December 2012, as per the Mayan calendar?
So I shouldn’t buy you a Christmas present then?
…lose my temper. Well, very rarely and especially not at work. About 12 years ago I lost my temper with a 6ft guy who weighed about 250lb. I told him in no uncertain terms what I thought of the job he had done and he burst into tears. It was a sobering experience.
Print or online news?
Neither one, actually. I get all my news from listening to Radio 4 while I drive. If it isn’t happening while I am driving, I just hope it’s not important.
Would you rather draw up the plans, or carry them out?
I have an interesting way of doing both at the same time, or perhaps even planning things slightly after they have happened. This makes you far more efficient, as you start to analyse things on the hoof, which is great for your mental agility. If it doesn’t go perfectly, you can plan things differently next time.
Your closest near-death experience?
While seeing how fast we could go down a road beside the River Medway in a Ford Sierra, someone pulled out in front of my friend. We swerved, hit the kerb, and ended upside down in the mud. Fortunately for us the tide was out.
What are the characteristics of the perfect channel partner?
One who understands that it’s a two-way street. Both vendors and channel partners want to make money and meet customer needs. It is all about mutual understanding and shared goals. End user, channel partner and vendor should all be shooting for the same goal.
What are the traits of a perfect boss?
My idea of the perfect boss is the absentee father figure; someone who isn’t around all the time unless you need them. They will remove obstacles in your way, and let you get on with what’s important. But you would need a certain type and standard of employee, so the moral is that you can’t be a great boss unless you have a great team!
How do you try to cheer yourself up when you’re feeling down?
I try to make someone else laugh, and if I am alone I try to make myself laugh. My only regret is that I know the Monty Python films so well that they don’t really work any more. Mock the Week still works, Blackadder and Fawlty Towers too; however, the best medicine was my son when he was younger. I would sit him in front of a Peter Sellers Pink Panther movie and listen to him laugh at it.
What is the most important thing in business?
Fun. Why would you want to do something that isn’t fun? If you don’t have fun doing your job, you’re in the wrong job. You have to enjoy it, or you won’t put your best into it, and you will never realise your full potential.
Owen Cole is EMEA vice president at ExtraHop Networks
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