Jon Atherton

clock • 4 min read


Group director, CI-Distribution

What was your dream career as a child?

To be like my engineering father and brothers, all highly skilled toolmakers who could repair and fix anything. For me though, my career took a different path: the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 were released and I became the first-generation geek!

What has been your personal highlight of 2019?

Seeing my daughter leave a state secondary school with 7 A, A*s: a very proud father. Why do parents send their children to private school, I ask?

Which famous person deserves a (gentle) slap?

Sadly far too many to list - could I have a varied strength of slap? From Trump, Boris, Weinstein to all the contestants of Love Island and the millions of viewers! All the politicians on Question Time over the last 36 months who simply have lost touch with society.

What two things (apart from family) would you grab if your house was on fire?

Obviously I would already be dressed, as this could be an awful sight. My phone would be with me. So that leaves me choosing a picture of my late mother and my large selection of handkerchiefs! Priceless.

Which of your 2019 predictions have come to pass?

That we would become Europe's largest client distributor for rugged devices, Panasonic No1 and now Getac No1. I'm proud of the team.

What TV show have you binge watched this year?

I cannot choose just one! I have started to watch Stranger Things, which my daughter told me to ‘get into' and the marvellous Peaky Blinders is back on the screen after a lengthy time away. It's close to my heart being a Black Country lad. Don't mess (or words to that effect) with the Peaky Blinders!

How has 2019 been from a business perspective?

Magic! Better than expected, very strong H1 with some downturn in H2 due to this thing called ‘Brexit'. Our Rugged sales were very strong, while components was steady.

What annoys you most about your commute?

That HQ is in Basingstoke and the traffic is just horrendous. Why are councils building thousands of homes without thinking about the infrastructure, pressure on schools, hospitals and so on? Thankfully, I live in the Midlands, which is a far more civilised place to live and drive - and somewhat cheaper!

If you could witness one past event, what would it be?

It would have to be the birth of the most talked about individual over the past 2,000 years, Jesus Christ. Did he actually turn water into wine? Now that I have to see…

How do you explain the channel to people?

A diverse ‘tech-ology' with many verticals, comprising of vendor-distributor-reseller… if they are still interested at this stage I have done well.

What have been your favourite and least favourite partner conference destinations?

This is a difficult one. The events over the years set a daily agenda so you do not get much chance to enjoy the city/area where the event is taking place. The evenings the same - that said, I never get bored of visiting CES in Las Vegas. The overall quality of the hotels, restaurants and entertainment is always first class. I do enjoy now visiting new places, with Austin, Texas a personal highlight this year. I am currently organising our fourth Rugged World event for 2020 with a focus on the unusual/different, ranging from a cruise liner in Gibraltar, to holding the event at a vineyard in Perpignan. Exciting times.

What is the biggest challenge facing the channel in 2020?

I may be a little controversial but it is not Brexit. We currently do have decent business outside the UK specifically around Rugged devices into Scandinavia. We have plans/options in place, whichever way Boris takes us. Our current challenge is finding the skillset required to fill positions - the area we are in is so competitive and difficult. To combat this, the business has invested time and a large amount of money in our new ‘Management Empowerment' program, where team leaders to directors are receiving first-class management training and a overhaul of our accreditation training to our sales and technical teams to empower them with the skillsets we as a business need. Finally, our graduate program has been a huge success over the years, and each year we welcome back the graduates who have left university as new employees.

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