Kelvin Kirby

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Kelvin Kirby

Chief executive, Technology Associates

Which tech figurehead do you admire the most?

I have several but the two that stand out for me are Elon Musk, who is a superb visionary and innovator and Bill Gates. Bill's vision and his original company, Microsoft, are the reason I'm where I am today.

What's the biggest challenge facing the industry no-one is talking about yet?

For me the biggest challenge is in the sales process - as a society we have moved from face-to-face selling to online, impersonal selling. Some 78 per cent of people transacting an online sale have already made up their mind to buy when they go online to make the purchase. We've lost the art of the face-to-face selling process, and maybe that's gone forever. I think the purchaser's sales experience will be determined largely by the after sales process in the future - that care and after-sales support that buyers get after the purchase, rather that in the run up to making the purchase decision. For many companies that means a shift in emphasis we haven't yet seen most companies make yet, and a change in skillsets that will need to be addressed. 

If you could invite three famous people to dinner, who would they be?

Albert Einstein, because he has always fascinated me; Abraham Lincoln, because he always had an answer for everything, and kept a remarkably cool air about him; and then it would have to be Cleopatra, because of her style and leadership.

How has 2017 been for you?

Interesting, a few challenges (as always). We've seen more and more competition in the services space, especially in training. The advent of free training from Microsoft has impacted our ability to sell post deployment training services into our customers much more than we thought it would. The uncertainty over Brexit remains and an election this year didn't do much to help that situation. However, this has been a good year. I have won several awards personally including CEO of the Year (again), and the company has also picked up a string of awards, and business remains good, even in a very challenging environment. 

What's the most extravagant business lunch you've ever had?

Ah - I can remember it now, even though it was about 16 years ago. The Swallow hotel in Birmingham. I was invited for lunch (with my wife) by a business colleague. He'd just won two major contracts and we were involved. It took us the entire afternoon and we had a different wine with each of the seven courses! So glad I wasn't paying!

Which global city best matches your personality?

London or New York. I'm very cosmopolitan. This business has enabled me to have friends all over the world - I believe I have strong energy and stamina, so staying up all night (if I have to) isn't a problem, even now. Although I will suffer for it a couple of days later! Oh and Paris for when I'm feeling "romantic"! 

What would be your super-hero power?

Being psychic! I don't think I need to explain that do I? Or should you have seen that one coming?

Complete this sentence. The worst thing about our rivals is… This may sound like a get out, but I don't believe there is a worst thing about our rivals. Genuinely, if they are rivals, they're at the top of their game (as are we) and will really know their stuff. Secretly I sometimes admire what they do - but don't tell them that, obviously! And for the rest of those who "think" they might be our competition, they really aren't because they don't have the same skillset, quality of service or track record that we have, so they just can't compete on the same level. Customer satisfaction and value are our primary motivators in this business. Working with customers that tell me (us) what a fantastic job we're doing for them is what makes me get up in the mornings. It's a high that you can't get any other way!

What makes you nervous?

A visit from my mother-in-law! 

If you could eat one type of food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Chicken - I could honestly live on chicken! 

Sum up the channel in three words

Fun, unpredictable, community.

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