Managing director, Softcat
Career so far
I was at Computacenter for 18 years, starting as bid manager onwards to sales, to head of UK public sector, to chief executive of Computacenter Germany for four years. Then I spent four years as general manager for services at Microsoft UK, then Softcat.
What was your first job and were you any good at it?
I was highway condition assessment officer for the Department of Environment in Belfast. This meant looking for holes in the road and marking down their location and size. I was excellent at it, as soon as I worked out that we could complete all the paperwork from the comfort of our works van in the morning, then spend the day playing football with the other lads and having long pub lunches.
Who was your top teenage pin-up?
Changing tastes. It started with Agnetha from ABBA (the blonde one), ending up with Clare Grogan from Altered Images. Teenage kicks, so hard to beat…
My colleagues won’t know this about me but…
I once appeared on Radio 1’s Quiz Kid programme hosted by David ‘Kid’ Jensen. He seemed like a thoroughly nice bloke so I hope the programme wasn’t a front for what now appears to be fairly standard Radio 1 DJ behaviour in those days.
What is your favourite snack?
Healthy day – grapes. Unhealthy day – Beef Hula Hoops. I’d say it’s pretty even, maybe grapes just ahead for this year.
What has been your career high point to date?
Getting Softcat to £400m revenue in my first year at the company. It was the stretchiest of stretch goals, but we did it – pretty much on the last day of our FY.
Has 2013 been good, bad or ugly?
It has been very good so far, measured by revenue and profit growth, headcount increase and – last but not least – customer satisfaction. But as we all know in this business, you’re only as good as your last month, so I’m more focused on the future.
What do you say when asked at a party what you do for a living?
I tell them I run an IT sales company but very quickly add that I know nothing about computers, in case I get asked to fix their home PC/help them upgrade to Windows 8/explain how to print 3D etc.
If I wasn’t working in the channel I would probably be…
A good two stone lighter than I am. And probably working in the music business.
What will be the channel’s biggest challenge in 2014?
Coping with the huge surge in demand for products and services as the UK emerges further from recession. Yes, my glass is half full, and moreover it’s also my fourth glass!
Our panel discusses how the channel can take advantages of the likes of IoT and AI
Context says monitor sales through distribution rose 19 per cent at the start of this year
Vendor continues to shine spotlight on print supplies business after EMEA sales fell nine per cent
Softcat, Insight and Trustmarque among successful bidders