UK sales director, SoftwareONE
What was your dream career as a child?
Pretty standard for a kid born in the 1970s, I think - racing driver, jet pilot, Jedi Knight.
What has been your personal highlight of 2019?
It's been a good year for family time away. We've been blessed with great locations and superb weather, from the slopes to the beaches. I was particularly pleased to get lots of surfing trips in with family and friends over the year. A stand out summer! (I'm still mourning it).
Which famous person deserves a (gentle) slap?
Respecting I'd have to negotiate my way through a team of Secret Service agents, Donald Trump makes the case for putting that effort in with breathtaking regularity. Whatever your views on his politics or the business acumen of the man, he's a challenging human being for all the wrong reasons. Hearing ‘President of the United States' and ‘Leader of the Free World' used in the same sentence was once commonplace. Fair to say, not lately.
What two things (apart from family) would you grab if your house was on fire?
A small box of my father's personal effects and an oil painting of a favourite Cornish beach by a local Royal Academy artist and family friend, a gift from my mother. Both are of huge sentimental value.
Which of your 2019 predictions have come to pass?
That Brexit wouldn't happen on 29 March. I think we were all on that tip though. England to win the Rugby World Cup 2019. It's been a good start!
What TV show have you binge watched this year?
Brooklyn 99 is a favourite on permanent loop. Umbrella Academy was excellent too. Last Breath, an unbelievable story but most prominent has to be Chernobyl. It proves the point that in every disaster story there are sub plots of heroism and victory. A brilliantly produced series.
How has 2019 been from a business perspective?
The acquisition of Comparex by SoftwareONE has made this year exceptional from every angle. The commitment from both teams as we come together has been truly humbling. Integration workloads dissipate in no time with a passion and energy that inspires confidence in the united team. The quality of execution has been consistently outstanding too. The epitome of ‘team effort'. The culture of the two businesses has integrated seamlessly and our mid-year kick off in July was an enormous success. That event really sealed the ‘One Team' deal for everyone.
Throughout the integration we've kept our focus on our existing customers while continuing to win new ones. Our evolution to delivering transformational projects and managed services hasn't missed a step either. Consequently, we've won exceptional business this year, delivering through our newly integrated services teams and enlightening our customers (and sometimes ourselves!) as to our excellent and advancing capabilities. The acquisitive nature of our business means that the portfolio of services will continue to build. That's really exciting for our future.
On a personal level the integration has meant I'm working back alongside ex-team mates and it's nice to be back in touch with those guys, seeing how their careers have developed and hopefully playing a constructive part in the future, all while I'm able to continue to enjoy the relationships I've formed over the previous two years with the legacy Comparex team as well as meeting new team members too. The best of all worlds. My role spans all the UK offices and I love the variety of travelling between Harrow, Wimbledon and York, catching up with the team, listening to the enthusiasm for the future. It's completely inspiring.
What annoys you most about your commute?
When I'm in the car, the very average standard of British driving. I've driven through France a couple of times this year and you notice the difference as soon as you arrive back on the M20. A good solution has been Audible and listening to all the business books I've failed to read over the years, a great way to make dead time productive and takes your mind off the stupidity unravelling around you. When I'm on the train, South Western Railway inability to run an effective timetable. LNER on the other hand, I salute you.
If you could witness one past event, what would it be?
Tough question - I couldn't decide between these two. A great pal of mine was a professional sportsman and many years back introduced me to a passage from Theodore Roosevelt, delivered in a speech at the Sorbonne, Paris in 1910 called ‘The Man In The Arena'. It's a lesson in resilience and I have gone back to it a few times in the past. To have heard it from the man himself would have been even more inspiring.
More superficially perhaps, on the journey with the England Rugby team for the 2003 World Cup win. Clive Woodward's book Winning gives you an insight into the commitment and preparation of that team. An incredible story with valuable business lessons too but to be on the inside of that camp for the journey and celebration would have been phenomenal. I did my best outside the camp, but everything after that drop goal is a blur!
How do you explain the channel to people?
I don't. Like many of us in the industry, "I'm in IT" is enough to stop most conversations with the uninitiated dead in their tracks or at least enough to take it towards a request for help with a dysfunctional printer, laptop, router and so on. What do I think the channel delivers? Relationships that transcend products and services, durability, competence, assurance and confidence, scale and not least value and long-standing friendships.
What have been your favourite and least favourite partner conference destinations?
Toronto. A great city, quality night life, super friendly atmosphere and people and a decent/operable summertime temperature. I've been a couple times, and it's consistently excellent. Closely followed by Las Vegas and New Orleans. My least favourite is Birmingham. I probably don't need to elaborate there… no disrespect to my Brummie mates.
What is the biggest challenge facing the channel in 2020?
Differentiation and transferability. The channel has blended, previously niche players play in more populated and subsequently competitive spaces. With that comes the necessity to be able to stand out from the crowd and to be able to effectively transfer your skillset in customers' and strategic vendors' minds from what you've been known for historically, to where you are today and will be in the future. Professional respect for your competitors is a key component for success here. If you lack that, there are tough times ahead.