Simon Harbridge

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Simon Harbridge

Chief executive, Stone Group

What was your dream career as a child?

To be a pilot, influenced by my dad who flew for the RAF in the Second World War. I have early memories of looking through an album of photographs taken when he was learning to fly in Oklahoma and also of playing with the contents of an old tin in which he kept his old cap badges, RAF wings and a set of medals.

What has been your personal highlight of 2019?

From a business perspective, we've grown exponentially in 2019. A lot of  the existing team have stepped up and we've also been in recruitment mode. Seeing staff old and new taking their opportunities and progressing as individuals has been very inspiring and my highlight.

Which famous person deserves a (gentle) slap?

I wouldn't want to slap anyone (honestly!), but occasionally I do like seeing someone get a well-deserved comeuppance. I particularly enjoyed seeing Piers Morgan, having slagged off the Australian pace attack, facing them in the nets and bowler Brett Lee taking the opportunity to cover him in bruises - better than a slap!

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

Well firstly, if I was naked, I would probably grab some clothes, but aside from that, probably the most sensible option would be iPhone and wallet.

Which of your 2019 predictions have come to pass?

That the circular economy would only become more important and that there would need to be more of a focus on sustainability in technology. That the pace of change only ever accelerates. Last year I was excited by the growing adoption of subscription models, and solutions such as Device- and Infrastructure-as-a-Service continue to mature. And, of course there would be no Brexit on 31 March!

What TV show have you binge watched this year?

I don't have a lot of time for TV, but when I do, I like a drama or fantasy show. Peaky Blinders has been a favourite, as has Game of Thrones. Contrary to popular belief, I thought they came up with a good finale, unpredictable and surprising to the end.

How has 2019 been from a business perspective?

It's been really positive. We've grown strongly in all our markets, taking on new customers and expanding our expertise and range of solutions as we continue to mature as a VAR with our own branded products part of a growing and balanced portfolio.

What annoys you most about your commute?

In contrast to most of my career, I currently enjoy a relatively untroubled run down country lanes. There are points though where narrow single track chicanes are in place to calm the traffic with clearly signposted rights of way from one side. There's always someone who doesn't think it applies to them!

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

There are lots you could choose, but I would go back 13.8 billion years plus a day to just before the big bang, because we'd finally know for sure what was there before.

How do you explain the channel to people?

Where to begin? It's a vibrant place full of really interesting people, who bring the wonderful and ever-changing world of technology through to customers in a meaningful and valuable way that makes a difference in the world.

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

Seattle or Portland are great destinations. I really love the whole North West coast vibe - it's such a great environment, laid back but buzzing at the same time, a great place to be. Dublin was great and I loved Las Vegas too. It was great fun and a really inspiring conference, even if it was 46c outside!

What is the biggest challenge facing the channel in 2020?

I said security last year, and I stand by that in 2020 - it's still one of the biggest issues for the channel. As an industry though we also face the constant need to innovate and attract the right talent. There's a skills gap that needs to be addressed and it's incumbent on people in the channel to help find and develop the right people in a fully inclusive way.

 

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