What was your first job, and how did you get into IT?
My first taste of the IT industry was in 1997, when I enrolled on the Parato Law graduate scheme. I was tasked with selling Navision Software to organisations that had concerns around Y2K compliance and the Millennium bug.
Are you a cat or a dog person?
I'm no Dr Doolittle but if pressed, I'd choose cats over dogs - My aunt's cat was not as fearsome as my grandad's dog who used to chase me out of his house!
What were you like in school?
Usually in trouble for inappropriate ‘clever' remarks, however my competitive spirit served me well in the school sports teams and ensured I secured reasonable grades.
What will be the most important trend to follow in 2016? Why?
One of the most important trends is digitisation and the issues that come with that, such as cybersecurity. We're at a tipping point when it comes to digitisation — the opportunities are huge and companies need to be aware of what they are and how to mitigate against the associated risks.
What is your most annoying habit?
If you ask my wife, she'd probably say impatience, especially when driving.
What is your biggest regret in business?
It's more of a personal regret, but I once had the opportunity to work abroad in the US and I turned it down. My boss at the time was moving there and I was offered a role with him. I was ambitious, so I decided to stay and fill the gap he left behind. But the chance to work abroad at some point in the future appeals.
What was the first record you bought?
My first ever record was Animal Kwakers, bought for me aged four. The first record I bought myself was, slightly embarrassingly, Karma Chameleon.
What is your most overused word?
Clearly - I use it all the time as a filler.
Why do you think there is a skills shortage? And what can be done about it?
I think there's a definite digital skills shortage, which is perpetuated by a lack of awareness — especially by certain generations — of the opportunity that digitalisation can bring.
Do you have a favourite motivational quote?
My favourite quotes are by Dale Carnegie. His was the first and the most powerful professional sales course that I remember. One of the early quotes I recall was: ‘'The person who goes farthest is generally the person who is willing to do and dare, the ‘sure-thing' boat never gets far from shore.''
Which extinct animal would you bring back and why?
The woolly mammoth. It's a huge impressive and frightening beast, but also so graceful. I had a cuddly woolly mammoth when I was six and always wanted to see one in real life.
What should the government be doing to help UK businesses grow?
I think the government has a responsibility to make young people aware of the value of having digital experience and a skill set, as it's starting to become more and more important. I also think the government should be doing more to ensure that businesses throughout the UK can benefit from new technology and that innovation isn't restricted to major cities. Much of the UK is still without the essential infrastructure, such as fast broadband that businesses need today.
What are your three greatest accomplishments (so far)? Why?
My family, growing three businesses and delivering significant shareholder return, leading multiple sales teams, which has been a tremendous honour.
Your closest near-death experience?
I had a near fatal skiing accident a few years ago. I ended up off-piste over-confident and almost skied into a glacier. That was scary, but not enough to dampen my love of adrenaline and the outdoors.
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