Elliot Howard

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UK&I area director, NetApp UK

What achievement are you most proud of?

One of my first professional endeavours was setting up a forestry company 20 years ago.

I am proud thinking back now how I planted 6,000 trees with my own hands. Walking through that same forest with my children today, I feel immense pride that I created such a great place for families to visit.

What has been the biggest change in the channel since you started working in it?

I have seen huge growth in enterprise-class vendors meaning there is now more choice than ever before. The other change has been the transition of the IT channel from a fulfilment-based business to a services business. This is one of the most significant developments the industry has seen in recent years and this is going to drive significant growth.

What three things could you not live without?

1. I box three times a week: it keeps both my mind and my body fit and helps me to remain focused. 2. I also consciously make the time to sit back, think and reassess all the things in my life. The world moves fast and for me it is important to continuously reflect what I do so that I can prioritise what is really important to me. 3. I also cannot live without a traditional roast chicken lunch and homemade bread sauce. Having a sit-down lunch on a Sunday with my family is important as it grounds me, recharges my batteries and prepares me for the week ahead.

What has been your most embarrassing moment so far?

I appeared in the production of Evita, together with Elaine Page in the West End, London. While on stage I accidently bumped into her and promptly dropped my prop in front of 1,600 people. I felt quiet embarrassed at the time but it did help me understand that if something goes wrong, you need to look up, learn from it and move on.

What do your family think you do all day?

My wife thinks I drink coffee and talk to people. My son on the other hand thinks my working day is telling people what to do, while my daughter thinks I sit in front of a computer all day. So a lot of talking and sitting.

Who is your ultimate celeb crush?

I admire Helen Mirren's confidence and what she has achieved in her career. If I ever were to meet her I would tell her that she is someone highly inspirational.

What is your guilty pleasure?

My main - and only - guilty pleasure is a Crunch bar, which I find impossible to resist.

What would be your first act if you were made Prime Minister?

I would invest in education, particularly in sciences and technology. We need to nurture an emerging pool of talent to tackle the skills gap we are facing. My first act would include investing in software development and digital services as well as IT and engineering. I would also make universities more accessible by lowering tuition fees. In the globalised world we live in, it is also important to place greater emphasis on young people developing language skills which is key for them to work and live in an increasingly globalised world.

Has 2015 been a good, bad or ugly year?

2015 has been a year of change for the industry as a whole, and for NetApp as a business. We have made the necessary adjustments to ensure that we remain relevant and attractive to our customers and other market stakeholders. We recently went through a period of realignment and adjustment, and we have now set ourselves up for a successful future ahead. 2016 will be a good year in which NetApp will be stronger than ever.

If you didn't work in the IT channel, what would you do?

I studied at an agricultural college and always wanted to work outside, which is what led me into forestry. If I were to leave the IT channel, I would go back to that industry, living on a farm and growing my own food.

What major issues will the channel face in 2016?

The world is moving towards a consumption-based economic model. As an industry we need to adjust and realign so that we are delivering technology that matches our customers' expectations. The channel needs to provide services that are flexible and scalable, while maximising cash flow. Changes to the EU Data Protection Law will also have a major impact on the channel in 2016. Businesses will need to make the necessary adjustments to remain compliant and as technology and data management providers, it is up to vendors and resellers alike to make sure they are readily equipped.

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