What was your first job, and how did you get into IT?
My first job was at IBM where I was a networking engineer, trying to connect PCs to mainframes in the late 1980s. I have been in the IT industry for 22 years now. I started my career at IBM and then held a number of senior project management, sales and leadership roles in professional services and product-related businesses. I worked across Asia for four years, based in Tokyo, and have spent the past five years in the UK.
In my dreams...
...cancer would be curable and we'd be able to travel around the world much quicker than we can today. The world is a wonderful place but getting out and seeing it isn't always practical.
What was the best business trip or junket you have ever been on?
The best business trip was a tech conference in the Yellow Mountains in China - a unique experience I'll never forget.
If you had to choose just one leisure activity, would you choose an art or
A sport, but only just! I'm firmly in my 40s and I have my waistline to worry about. I also need to stay fit to keep up with my eight-year old.
What never fails to make you laugh?
Spending time with family and friends - it might sound clichéd but it's true.
What are the characteristics of the perfect channel partner?
A perfect channel partner needs to have depth of expertise and capability, as well as support for specific offerings. They must also sympathise with the needs of CIOs, offering flexibility and customisation at a competitive price.
Which four famous people (living or dead) would you like to invite to your next dinner party?
I'd invite Nelson Mandela because he was so inspiring, Billy Connolly because he's so witty, Maggie Thatcher because she had an opinion, and Steve Jobs because he created beautiful things.
If you had your time again, what would be your next choice of career?
I would be a software designer, because I often miss being creative and building things.
What will be the most important trend to follow in 2014?
BYOD continues to present an interesting challenge for the technology community in harnessing the rapid growth of mobility in a way that complements the modern workplace. While there are still network and security issues, the opportunities for businesses in the BYOD space mean it's an important trend to keep an eye on in 2014.
Is charisma or brains more important for a great leader?
Ideally both, but if it had to be one, it would be brains. Having brains behind the business is essential. Having the nous to make informed decisions and drive growth is fundamental to great leadership.
Are IT skills shortages best filled by on-the-job training or formal education (such as at a university)?
A mixture of both is necessary to fill IT shortages. Formal education is important but it needs to be done at institutions firmly grounded in the real world. The best courses have strong links to industry, which adds much-needed vibrancy and relevance to a rather dry subject.
Charles Bligh is managing director of TalkTalk Business
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