Chief operating officer, Exclusive Networks Group
What was the worst job you have ever had?
I'll never forget this. I had a Saturday job as a shelf stacker at the local cash and carry. What I didn't realise is that ‘shelf stacker' is actually an anagram of ‘toilet cleaner' - it was horrible. On top of this my boss hated me for some unknown reason so I was always given the crap jobs. I broke my arm during this time and, after calling in sick, was sacked for lying. You can imagine his face when he saw me walking down the street with my arm in plaster.
Which actor would you pick to play you in a movie of your life?
I'm often told I look like Daniel Craig - but I doubt he'd want to be told he looked like Barrie Desmond. Whenever I visit our Paris HQ I take the same motorbike taxi, and every time the driver and his mates call me Steve McQueen (they recently gave me a t-shirt with Steve McQueen's face printed on it) but I don't think he's a fit either. It would have to be my hero, Ray Winston. After meeting him outside a bar and having a smoke together recently, I realised how normal he is and that he isn't acting when he plays these East End gangsters - he's really like that. He's humble, likes a good laugh but can be very direct, just like me (I hope), so he wouldn't have to act too much!
What do you do as your party trick?
Telling funny stories is my trick; all based on real-life experiences. I don't like to toot my own horn but I like to think I can regale most people with my little black book of stories. If that doesn't work I'll treat them to my favourite Irish song, 7 Drunken Nights, but only sing five verses. The last two are too rude - even for a rugby crowd!
What is your favourite chocolate bar?
It's got to be a KitKat. Although I'm partial to a Cadbury's Whole Nut, a KitKat reminds me of my upbringing. It was a real treat back then, even if it was just a two-finger one.
What has been the highlight of your career to date?
For me it's got to be the people. I've met some real characters over the years, from the old-school channel guys and real horse traders to the young guns driving fast cars and living loose. No matter what you say, the channel is all about relationships and, being a people person, I've really enjoyed and thrived in this environment.
Has 2014 been a good, bad or ugly year?
It's been a fantastic year. Working with great people, like Olivier Breittmayer and Neil Ledger, is a real pleasure and I never stop learning from them. This was the year we really began to see our vision of being the only true international VAD come to fruition and there's a lot of satisfaction when you see a plan come together. That being said, at the end of the day it's all about the numbers - and it looks like we'll smash our target of half a billion euros this year. Sometimes I have to pinch myself.
How would you explain the IT channel to a stranger without boring them to death?
I'd say: "Close your eyes and imagine Macbeth mashed up with Trading Places." I'm sure they'd be fascinated and ask a lot of questions.
Aside from the channel, my dream career would be... I'd have loved to be an actor, or a helicopter pilot for a charity in Africa. I'm a bit of a dreamer, I know (and no, I don't fly).
What major issues will the channel face in 2015?
The channel has no clothes. Every year we hear about channel Armageddon, yet we've still got a multi billion-euro industry. Seriously though, the channel has got a long life ahead of it. There's no doubt we'll have to adapt to new consumer-led IT buying practices, the subscribe tribe... from perpetuity to annuity models; renting rather than owning title; hybrid cloud; the Internet of Things. It's going to be complex and challenging, and the channel is like the one-eyed man in the land of the blind. Resellers will be the trusted advisor taking customers on this journey, but they will have to adapt. Distributors need to build more value and services; otherwise they'll become the next Our Price or Zavii. The trick is to re-invent ourselves to fit the market's needs.
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