What was your first job, and how did you get into IT?
My first job was as a runner on the London Futures and Options Exchange. I was responsible for collecting and inputting a group of brokers’ trades. After two years I progressed to a trader, sporting a bright blue and yellow jacket, spending my working day jumping around shouting and screaming using hand signals to buy and sell.
When the exchange closed I was forced to make a career change and I decided to move into the fast-growing technology sector.
Are you a cat person or a dog person?
Cats, especially big cats. I was born in Africa and have been lucky enough to go on multiple safaris and see them in their natural habitat.
What were you like in school?
Much the same as I am now: a hard worker, but always leaving stuff to the last minute. And I still ask too many questions.
What will be the most important trend to follow in 2016?
This year I am hoping to see negative growth in a couple of areas:, my weight and waistline. I have set myself a goal to be lighter in my 40th year than I was in my 20th year.
What is your most annoying habit?
I cannot sit still when I am on the phone; I pace around the office. I bought myself a Jawbone fitness tracker so on the plus side my habit is allowing me to hit my daily step-count target.
What is your biggest regret in business?
Not being brave enough to start my own technology business in the mid-nineties when the internet industry was booming.
Why do you think there is a skills shortage? What can be done about it?
I think there is still a major disconnection in people’s interpretation of skills versus qualifications and certifications. There is no shortage of vendor-specific certifications.
However, I am seeing more and more individuals that have the certification badges but are lacking in real-world, hands- on experience and the skills required to implement and troubleshoot in multi-vendor hardware, software, application environments.
Customers are buying complete ecosystem solutions and as such, want the partner to be skilled in the full integration. I would like to see more collaboration with the different vendors and industry/solution-based certifications.
Do you have a favourite motivational quote?
Winners are not people who never fail, but people who never quit. What should the government be doing to help UK businesses grow? The school leavers and youngsters of today are so advanced in their adoption and usage of technology, especially social media.
Many UK business are struggling to keep up with the speed of change and innovation. I would like to see more government-sponsored schemes to place this generation in UK companies to support and accelerate their digital agenda and transformation.
Do you prefer CRN in print or digital form?
Both. When in the office I like to flick through pages and often see cuttings and articles on the office walls. However, when I am on the road my preference is definitely digital.
What was your most important lucky break in business so far? Did you make the most of it?
It was in my early twenties when I was faced with making a career change. I left the city and the trading floor and started my first sales role in the technology sector as a telemarketer. We were expected to bang out 80 calls a day, with a minimum of four hours on the phone and deliver at least three qualified leads. This discipline definitely supported my career progression. It was really good grounding and I believe every salesperson should start on the phone.
Your closest near-death experience?
The closest was when I jumped off a cliff in New Zealand. Fortunately, I had a bit of elastic tied to my legs which prevented me hitting the rocks on the ground. I ticked the bungee jump off my “to do” list and will not be revisiting it.
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