Chief commercial officer, Computacenter
What was your dream career as a child?
From an early age I simply wanted to be a professional sportsman - football, cricket or as an F1 driver and much later golf. I always had the competitive nature, just simply lacked the talent!
What has been your personal highlight of 2019?
As I spend more time with our US acquisition, I'm starting to see with even more clarity the global nature of this business and the channel specifically, and the dominance and influence of the US leaders of our partners. It is not just what we are achieving over there, but by looking both sides of the pond, I'm seeing the power of being global to our own business, our customers and our vendors. The other (very personal) highlight for me over the last 12-18 months was finally managing to lose some weight (2st-plus) and achieve a level of fitness which I was beginning to think was beyond me. Now I need to "go again" and achieve even more improvement.
Which famous person deserves a (gentle) slap?
David Cameron, which is a shame as I was a big fan. Frankly the distraction over the last few years with Brexit has tarnished so many things. For me it was always a political rather than economic decision. While I respect him for trying to fix the issue once and for all with the referendum, the way he did it achieved the complete opposite. I'm afraid that it has become a running sore; I'm struggling to see how it will come to an end in the short/mid term.
What two things (apart from family) would you grab if your house was on fire?
My golf clubs and my wine rack!
Which of your 2019 predictions have come to pass?
That Brexit would not be resolved, that our technology sourcing (product supply) business will continue to grow, and I would continue to have the best job in Computacenter (possibly in the industry!) and (sadly) that my wife would end up with a lower golf handicap than me! All 100% correct.
What TV show have you binge watched this year?
Peaky Blinders and Killing Eve. Both excellent, but quite a few others as well. Binge TV watching helps travelling a lot!
How has 2019 been from a business perspective?
Very strong, across all territories and across all business lines with all our main partners and some key new ones.
What annoys you most about your commute?
My main commute is to LHR… so BA delays! Other than that, nothing annoys me, as it is either very short to the Reading office or to a different place every single day. The worst thing about commuting is the repetition. I'm lucky that every day is genuinely different, as variety is the spice of life. I should say I used to hate the daily commute into London by train (it still drives me crazy when I have to do it in rush hour).
If you could witness one past event, what would it be?
Easy question. The 1966 World Cup final. Obvious reasons!
How do you explain the channel to people?
I get asked this a lot and my answer is: effectively we deal with large enterprise organisations and large global vendors, neither of which can adequately flex, and we help them both do that, matching customer demands to vendors' technology and make it easier to enable their technology by combining tech and services to build solutions. Our deep customer intimacy helps the tech vendors go wider and deeper working with us, and helps customers to get access to the right technology for them at the right time. The broader channel, albeit not really CC, gives the vendors reach into the mid market.
What have been your favourite and least favourite partner conference destinations?
It's amazing that we go to some fab cities, but all we see is an airport terminal, a taxi and a conference hotel, and normally many of the same people (while we are competitors, we normally manage to enjoy a glass of wine and the social "engagement"!). Therefore, I've been keen recently to try and combine the conferences where possible with seeing more of the cities we visit, and on a number of occasions my wife has joined me afterwards to enjoy Madrid, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Barcelona, Paris and others. It can't always be possible - I have to say she wasn't too happy when I went to both Venice and Seville without her!
What is the biggest challenge facing the channel in 2020?
There are always challenges of a macro economic nature ahead of us - Brexit, US/China trade, economic slowdown as well as inevitable change in our markets. However, the challenge we have in 2020 is the same as it has been every year, our ability to add significant value for customers and partners and to define and then execute on our own strategies. Those channel players who have genuine focus (on whatever their segment/targets are) will be the ones who succeed. More specifically, I do believe that as our customers' buyers become more "millennial" they will drive a demand for a more simplified, technology based model for procuring technology and solutions, in some form of consumption/XaaS motion. Whether that will really land in 2020 or soon after, it is a challenge ahead of the industry, which we will all need to be ready for.