What was your first job, and how did you get into IT?
I was a trainee programmer at an IT company developing geographic information systems. After a year the managing director decided I was better at communicating with people rather than computers, so I became a consultant, which I loved.
Are you a cat person or a dog person?
Definitely a dog person. We have a one-year-old orange roan Cocker Spaniel called Coco and my wife Kelly is already talking about getting another one.
What were you like at school?
I loved my school years, especially the social side and making friends for life. I was lucky enough to work out from a young age how to balance doing well with having a lot of fun. So I achieved good results, while really enjoying the journey.
What will be the most important trend to follow in 2016?
Think smart, stay on your toes and listen to what your customers and prospects really want. With market uncertainty from oil price fluctuation and the slowdown in the Chinese economy, 2016 could be an up-and-down year, so staying ahead of the game will be key.
What is your most annoying habit?
I used to think if a task needed to be done properly, I might as well do it myself, rather than share the load with my team. I am a bit wiser now and a bit better at delegating (although I still like to double-check things are up to my standards).
What is your biggest regret in business?
No regrets, other than the fact that I would have been happy to find Greentree Software 20 years ago. It’s a great company and I love playing my part in growing the business.
What was the first record you bought?
The Name Of The Game by ABBA. I think I was six when I bought it and it was the start of my huge passion for music. For the record, that was also the last ABBA song I bought.
Why do you think there is a skills shortage?
What can be done about it? In general our education system in the UK is good, but our youngsters would benefit from more “real-world” education. I have spoken to many teenagers who think business studies is “boring”, but I know that in 10 years, a fair number of them will have an absolute passion for business.
We need to make business studies really exciting for our teenagers. The same goes for computing. Kids need to be shown that programming and IT can be cool and exciting, otherwise the current skills gap is not going to be bridged in future.
What should the government be doing to help UK businesses grow?
It should be doing more to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship from a young age. We should be getting kids excited about entrepreneurship and innovation, providing them with the skills they need. Programming, IT and engineering skills are all vital parts of innovation, and we have to make sure that as a country we don’t lose this.
British people have invented all sorts of world-changing things in the past. Let’s continue to encourage that innovation in our youngsters.
What are your three greatest accomplishments (so far)?
■ Marrying Kelly, the love of my life, and creating our beautiful family.
■ Building Greentree Software UK from a start-up to a fast-growing, successful business and creating jobs for the UK. This fills me with pride.
■ Assembling a network of partners for Greentree in the UK. It has been very rewarding to find and work with people who share Greentree’s channel ethos, and of course introduce them to the finer tastes of New Zealand wine!
What was your most important lucky break in business so far? Did you make the most of it?
When I was a project manager I had an American boss who spotted that I had good commercial skills and he asked me to switch to the sales side of the business. He helped me, mentored me and showed me the way. Thanks Ed.
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