Chief executive, AdEPT Technology Group
What was your dream career as a child?
I was fascinated by the Space Shuttle, so I guess it's astronaut. Though I used to spend time working with my dad who was a gas fitter and plumber - I helped at weekends working as his ‘mate' handing him tools while he was under various boilers and baths - so I always thought I'd be on the tools when I grew up!
What has been your personal highlight of 2019?
Being appointed as chief executive of AdEPT was pretty special. I am fortunate Ian Fishwick (now chairman) has handed over the keys at such an exciting time. Seeing my daughter Emma graduate at Warwick was very special, too.
Which famous person deserves a (gentle) slap?
David Cameron for the obvious reason - why on earth did he hold a referendum without a clear understanding of the outcome? On that day the entire population, and the MPs, all had a different personal view of what Remain or Leave actually meant. Before the referendum I walked past David and Samantha on a clifftop walk in Cornwall. If only I'd known what he was thinking of doing, I could have literally given him a (gentle) slap, though I'd have been arrested by his security detail if I had.
What two things (apart from family) would you grab if your house was on fire?
My photos - they're irreplaceable as they're from the days before cloud storage, and a painting I bought from the artist Sergio Agostino while my (now) wife and I stayed at his gate-keepers cottage on holiday in Tuscany, Italy, many years ago.
Which of your 2019 predictions have come to pass?
I don't really do predictions.
What TV show have you binge watched this year?
I've been hooked on Outlander, a series about a Second World War nurse who time travels back to 1743 Scotland. It's a great period drama - Amazon Prime makes painful train journeys endurable.
How has 2019 been from a business perspective?
It's been great. Our sales have held up in an interesting political environment and our acquisitions are performing well. We've set course to integrate the business, transition to the AdEPT brand and invest in systems - we're making progress on all fronts, though I'm impatient so it's never going to be fast enough. You're only as good as the team around you, so I'm delighted I've to be able to strengthen the team - with Alex Larcombe and an ex-colleague, Andy Lovett, joining as sales director and chief operating officer respectively.
What annoys you most about your commute?
I'm very lucky, as I don't have to be in the same place every day. With an ever-growing AdEPT group, it's important that I'm not a stranger to the team, so I travel to our different offices each week. I try and commute in a bubble, surrounded by work, music or iPlayer, but it annoys me immensely when people are rude - courtesy costs nothing!
If you could witness one past event, what would it be?
What a great question. I immediately thought of the first flight by the Wright Brothers, or the first trip on the rocket by Robert Louis Stephenson, or the first phone call by Alexander Graeme Bell. Amazing transformations for society. But I'll have to settle on the football World Cup in 1966. It's the year I was born, I'm a keen Liverpool fan and what a day!
How do you explain the channel to people?
For me it's gluing together building blocks of technology from multiple providers to solve problems for clients. I grappled hard to refresh our company ‘tag line' earlier this year and AdEPT's embodies it for me - uniting technology, inspiring people.
What have been your favourite and least favourite partner conference destinations?
I was very lucky to have an international role in a previous life. We used to run customer and partner conferences. One in Key West, Florida, was special - sun, sea and great Key Lime pie - and another in Sun City in South Africa. Playing golf while watching out for crocodiles on the course was interesting! I don't really have a least favourite.
What is the biggest challenge facing the channel in 2020?
I'm going to suggest two. First, the erosion of margin brought about by commoditisation. This isn't unique to 2020. The mega players - AWS, Microsoft and others - constantly bring new technologies under their ownership. They then erode the margin that we in the channel can secure from reselling this new technology. Second is the damage to trust (and the P&L) brought about by channel conflict and changing channel strategies by partners. We rely on each other so don't abuse that relationship - it's crucial!