Chief executive, Viglen
Career so far
I’ve always been involved in technology, and my technical introduction to commercial computing came from programming mainframe systems. With an eye to a developing market, I moved to Australia, taking on the emerging microcomputer market, initially in a technical capacity, but breaking into sales, marketing and moving rapidly into management. When the opportunity arose to work for Alan (now Lord) Sugar at Amstrad, I joined the team, launching Amstrad Australia and scooping the Marketer of the Year award along the way. I moved back to Europe as managing director of Amstrad. We then acquired Viglen and I assumed the responsibility as chief executive where I turned Viglen into a specialist in the education and public sectors.
What was your first job and were you any good at it?
I ran the IT for an American oil company across Europe and my role was to troubleshoot and support the systems on a 24-hour basis. I enjoyed the challenge and the travel. I learnt a lot about analysing and prioritising problems and working with non-IT people who just want results.
Who was your top teenage pin-up?
I always rated David Bowie and James Hunt was my idol. Today it would be Penelope Cruz, but that’s a different story.
My colleagues won’t know this about me but…
When I was at college I was a full-time DJ and worked with lots of bands doing sessions inbetween the acts, including some big acts such as Lou Reed, ELO, Roy Wood and Rod Stewart.
What is your favourite snack?
Hmm, hard one. I like beef jerky, but you could tempt me with a cherry ripe from Australia.
What has been your career high point to date?
Running and building Viglen while much of our competition has gone by the wayside. Never making a loss and keeping focused on what we do is rewarding.
Has 2013 been good, bad or ugly?
A simple yes all three. It has been a tough year but we have grown. Margin is still under pressure but we have won some significant frameworks and deals.
What do you say when asked at a party what you do for a living?
Funny, it’s usually the other way around. I think I must have one of those faces, because I get asked all the time if they know me. I have it all the time – am I in the music business, in a band, TV, movies, author, actor, racing driver, pilot, professor and so on. It’s a bit like the film Catch Me If You Can.
If I wasn’t working in the channel I would probably be…
In the music business or in motor racing. That would have done it for me – maybe there’s still time?
What will be the channel’s biggest challenge in 2014?
Interesting one. Obviously sector consolidation is still looming alongside slow growth in the market but also the technology is still changing as we move into much more flexible systems away from traditional desktops, so looking at BYOD and the challenges associated with that. I think for a lot of the sector it will be focused on not losing share and holding up margins and profitability. For some of the channel, surviving will be a result.
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