What was your first job, and how did you get into IT?
My first job after university was as a support analyst in the IT department of a marketing organisation. It was a sharp learning curve into the ‘real' world and I was promoted to network manager after 18 months of hard work.
Are you a cat person or a dog person?
I love both dogs and cats so this is a tough decision. I really admire cats for their independence and ability to get what they want, when they want it. But I would have to choose dogs for their loyalty and affection, and their ability to make you feel better, especially after a challenging day.
What is your most annoying habit?
It must be my obsession with my phone. Like many others, I am totally addicted to it and even look at it when there is nothing to really look at. I do miss the times when you could truly switch off for a few hours and a big promise I have made to myself is to enter ‘rehab' for a few weeks this year while I'm on my holiday.
What is your biggest regret in business?
I don't have many regrets as I genuinely feel that you learn from any mistakes you make and I encourage my team to take some risks as it is the only way to learn. This is why I love the challenge of working in start-ups and with disruptive technology. There is no point in simply trying to copy the competition; you need to think outside the box if you want to win.
What was the first record you bought?
My first recollection of listening to music was hearing This Ole House by Shakin' Stevens, but the first record I actually bought was Holiday by Madonna in 1983 (not sure if that is much better!) when I was around nine years old.
What is your most overused word?
"Carnage". I love this word and I enjoy the buzz and challenge when there is real momentum out there and almost too much to cope with. In fact, this year even July, which is a typically quiet month, was ‘carnage' which is a great sign for Arcserve.
Why do you think there's a skills shortage? What can be done about it?
The skills shortage starts right at the beginning: at school. I think a lot more investment needs to be made in IT education at an early age. As well as learning about technology, a real effort should be made to teach children the communication side of technology, including strong presentation skills.
Do you have a favourite motivational quote?
"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life," - Muhammad Ali.
Which extinct animal would you bring back?
The sabre-toothed tiger. I love wild cats and so any member of the cat family is a loss. Though I love animals, if I could make an animal extinct it would have to be mosquitoes. They have no purpose in life apart from ruining my holiday!
What was your most important lucky break in business so far? Did you make the most of it?
This would have to be receiving a call about potentially working as a pre-sales engineer for a start-up vendor in the spring of 1999 while I was working in IT (my first job after university).
I had no idea about what the prospective job entailed, no experience of working in this role, and I was going to be one of a handful of employees across the EMEA region to join. There was no office at the time of the call, so I had to move location and there were no guarantees any of it would work out.
It was risky but sounded exciting and I have never looked back, eventually moving to the ‘dark side' of sales. I would encourage anybody to take a risk outside their comfort zone - what is the worst that could happen?
What is your dream holiday destination?
I love Italy and my family and I go at least once a year to Calabria which is right on the sea-front and surrounded by mountains. It's the perfect escape and a fantastic location to recharge.
The food and weather are amazing and I get to practice my ‘pigeon' Italian with family and friends. I love trying new destinations but nothing beats the familiarity and comfort of going there.
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