Jon Atherton

clock • 3 min read

What has been your personal highlight of 2020?

It would have to be witnessing West Bromwich Albion back in their rightful status as a Premier League club. Sport has a way of uniting people, and in what has been a challenging year for all, I can attest that the joy of witnessing my childhood football club gain promotion once again, after two seasons in the Championship, definitely brightened my mood - not to mention giving me some long-awaited bragging rights among my peers.

Which three celebrities would you invite to a Zoom party?

Cyrille Regis, Rory McIlroy, and Lenny Henry. There are strong Albion ties present with Regis, a baggies legend; and Henry, a legend in his own right and a fellow baggie supporter who's always good for a laugh, so that should make for lively conversation. I'd be surprised if McIlroy shared our Albion passion, but as golf is my favourite pastime, there are several things I'd love to pick his brains about, specifically around why my bunker shots are so dire!

What has been your guiltiest lockdown pleasure?

I've been heavy on the snacks. It's much harder to turn them down when you're at home all day! But I do make myself earn them with daily walks and bike rides, which became a sort of lockdown tradition, at least when the weather was a bit warmer. Of course, occasional rounds of golf didn't go amiss either. I'm fortunate my CEO Jeremy Nash shares the same passion.

Which tech figurehead has inspired you most this year, and why?

It's close, but I'd have to say Elon Musk. He's a controversial figure to some but the lengths he goes to in pushing the technological boundaries of what we think is possible, both on earth and above, is incredibly inspiring. After all, I'm in this field to make an impact, and who best represents that than the Tesla and SpaceX talisman?

What piece of technology, or app, have you not been able to do without during the pandemic?

My trusty companion LinkedIn. There's no better way to keep in contact with other tech market masterminds. Through my now lengthy career in this field, I have built many relationships with numerous peers, and it's always enjoyable to catch up or witness their career milestones, show support to others who may be going through a difficult period, or have support shown to me on one of my blogs.

If you could be anyone else for a week, who would you be and what would you do?

Slaven Bilic, without a doubt. My Albion fandom is bursting through here but what lifelong fan wouldn't relish the chance to manage their team in the top flight?

Even if only for a week, it would allow me to see if I do indeed know better than the manager as I claim during my fits of fan rage. My FM20 team has won the treble three years running… does that count?

Do you miss face-to-face events?

Yes, one hundred per cent. They remain discontinued for the foreseeable future and, I must stress, rightly so, as health and safety should always take precedence. However, meeting my peers or building new partnerships at said events are unquestionably worthwhile, and I imagine everyone in the channel shares my sentiment and looks forward to the day we can safely host these events once more.

How will COVID leave its mark on the way the channel operates long term?

As with every industry, I expect more businesses to adopt a remote working or hybrid outlook moving forward, having seen the discussions on LinkedIn and other media platforms. Supply and demand is a truthful cliché, so an increase in remote working solutions is more than likely as well as an increase in webinars and virtual events as the world becomes hygiene-conscious post-COVID-19.

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