What was your first job, and how did you get into IT?
After graduating from university in 2000, I joined a small IT security specialist called Centrinet. I had no IT experience but wanted to get into sales, and they wanted to start a sales operation with someone who understood their business.
Eighteen months later, after I'd badgered enough people to teach me how to manage Check Point firewalls and Cisco routers and had my own team, I was given an office, a phone and a purchased list of names and told to start selling.
Are you a cat person or a dog person?
Neither, as pets are not my thing, although I have three children who would like one and regularly remind me.
What were you like in school?
I was quite entrepreneurial: I started two different school newspapers and my own print company which made business cards. At 10 years old, when Comic Relief first aired, I painted egg boxes red, cut them up and tied elastic to them before selling them as red noses to school friends. My memory is a bit hazy but while I'd like to think all the money went to charity, I fear some of it may well have gone on gobstoppers.
What is the most important trend to follow in 2016?
After the result of the EU referendum I'm not going to be the one committing predictions about anything to paper!
What is your biggest regret in business?
Regret is an odd concept to me - it means you waste time wishing for what could have been. I hope I learn my lessons when needed, but I don't regret things. If you were king, what would you do first? I would abdicate and give the job back to the present incumbents who are used to handling the expectation, intrusion and limelight. However, I might insist on handing out a few knighthoods first.
Why do you think there is a skills shortage? And what can be done about it?
There is a tendency towards short-term thinking. Companies want people with skills without the time commitment to train them, consequently the pool of experience gets smaller and the cost of finite resources gets higher. Long-term business plans should consider the skills that will be needed in years to come.
Do you have a favourite motivational quote? I met Sir Ranulph Fiennes once after listening to him explain how his expeditions all start with fundraising over the phone - or basically, selling. I have a piece of paper he signed for me on which he wrote "Chris - pick up the phone!"
Which extinct animal would you bring back?
The woolly mammoth. My children would love it.
What should the government be doing to help UK businesses grow?
I didn't vote to leave the EU, but now that the decision is made, the government should be working to get talks started on trade deals and partnerships. The sooner we're seen to be on that path, the sooner confidence will return. However, I fear we're some way off, and that politicians will spend a lot of time trying to jostle for importance.
What is your dream holiday destination?
The most important factors in holidays are variety, fun and exclusivity. I'm not one for huge hotels and packed beaches. If I had to narrow it down, it would be Africa. I've spent some time across East and South Africa and I love it there: the people, wildlife, culture, food, smells and endless beautiful space.
Your closest near-death experience?
As a passenger in a high-speed head-on car crash when I was 18. I don't remember the impact, but I do remember watching the other car approaching, and then patting myself down afterwards to check everything was still there. Fortunately it was.
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