What was your first job, and how did you get into IT?
My first role was at IBM, selling directly to the public. Given IBM’s then preference for channel, we were a real outsider and an underdog. As with many people in IT, I planned to be in the industry temporarily – that was almost 25 years ago!
What will be the most important trend to follow in 2015?
With a new breach in the press almost every day, securing information has to be the most pressing issue. While reducing costs remains important, the size of fines, damage to reputation and impact on share price resulting from a breach is driving attention to security in most boardrooms. For many years companies have heavily invested in perimeter security, but with mobile, social and cloud it simply isn’t the focus for attack. The biggest trend companies should focus on is securing their publicly accessible infrastructure.
What never fails to make you sad or disappointed?
Intolerance or narrow-mindedness; difference should be celebrated and we are so much richer for having new views and experiences.
Tea or coffee, and how do you have it?
Anyone who has ever worked with me knows the answer to this one: double espresso and plenty of it, no milk, no sugar.
Which is more important: a good leader, or the team as a whole?
It’s always going to be about the team. A good leader, indeed the best leader, is limited by being just one person with only 24 hours in the day. A team comprising distinct and different talents will always carry the advantage.
What was your most important lucky break in life so far? Did you make the most of it?
Meeting my wife Sarah. There was a high degree of luck involved too, as she was two hours late! As a man who never waits more than 15 minutes for someone to show up, it’s a wonder I was still there, but have been thankful every day since that I did.
Will there always be value in printed books and magazines?
There will always be something special about the printed word as opposed to digital content. I’m an avid reader of both online and printed material and I find the tactile experience of opening and reading a book a little more special than simply clicking a button. Plus, reading your iPad in the bath remains pretty dangerous, especially if you are charging it at the time!
What would you like to have as your epitaph?
I’ve always wanted people to be able to smile at my funeral; there’s nothing worse than a group of your nearest and dearest deeply distressed. To that end I’ve always rather liked Spike Milligan’s “I told you I was ill.”
What are the characteristics of the perfect channel partner?
I don’t think there is a perfect channel partner. The reason is that the best relationships are between two parties, based on mutual goals, trust and energy. Both sides need to have understanding and empathy for each other’s ambitions and pressures and an overriding passion to grow business together. Lastly, it has to be real – founded on the joint activity generating more value for both partners and the customer than any individual on their own.
What are you reading?
I’m not the sort of person to read business books – I tend to read biographies or fiction and always for pleasure. There is a wonderful quietness about getting lost in a really engaging story. I recently read The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M Harris, which I enjoyed immensely.
How do you try to cheer yourself up when you’re feeling down?
If I’m feeling down I have an almost instant pick-me-up, in my four children. Children don’t have time for wallowing in self pity and mine are no exception. My eldest boy will tell you funny stories about his day, while his younger brother amuses and horrifies in equal measure with his physical energy. If that doesn’t work, my eldest girl could charm the birds from the trees – and if all else fails her younger sister is the comedian of the family.
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