What has been your personal highlight of 2020?
It has to be the acquisition of Trilogy Technologies by Arkphire Group. Almost as soon as we had started to work on integration of the services business, which is the part of the Group I am responsible for, COVID-19 entered our lives and everything changed.
The way in which our people responded to the crisis is something I am proud of: looking after our customers' needs in responding to the rapid transformation to working from home, dealing with the integration of our teams while getting to know new people in a virtual world all while supporting our people with their own personal challenges.
Which three celebrities would you invite to a Zoom party?
Graham Norton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Will Smith. Since COVID, the need for laughter and fun has never been so high on the agenda. Being on a Zoom call with these three celebs would deliver just that for me.
What has been your guiltiest lockdown pleasure?
I have never been much of a person for snacking during the day but working from home has changed all that - maybe not such a good thing! I am lucky enough to live and now work in a lovely suburb with a mix of nice coffee shops and bakeries which remained open for business though lockdown.
My guiltiest pleasure on a fine morning was to take the dog for a walk and acquire a nice coffee and pastry along the way to enjoy in the local park. This would set up both me and Toby for the day - his guiltiest pleasure has been to sit under my desk for the remainder of the morning.
Which tech figurehead has inspired you most this year, and why?
This year it is Elon Musk again. Not only for his continued achievements in space flight with SpaceX but his ambitious vision for sending humans to Mars. I also admire his work with Tesla, not only in how he has transformed the electric car market but for the innovations in renewable energy. A Tesla could be my next guiltiest pleasure with little or no guilt.
What piece of technology, or app, have you not been able to do without during the pandemic?
There isn't one piece anymore. The mobile phone without question is the most important in allowing secure access to business applications and collaboration anytime, anyplace, but also the central point for staying connected with family, friends and what's happening in the world.
Next in line is my iPad which is my favourite piece of technology, brilliantly mobile, a bigger screen and I just love the ease of use of this little gem. However, as we continue in ‘working from anywhere' mode, all tech collaboration tools have become so important to my working life, with comfort being high on the agenda. My latest gadget I've acquired is the Jabra Speakerphone so I can give my ears a rest from the headphones and ensure a quality voice experience while on my many daily Teams calls.
If you could be anyone else for a week, who would you be and what would you do?
I'd be myself on holiday, with all technology switched off, a pile of books and a house on the Wild Atlantic Way (good weather a bonus but not essential).
Do you miss face-to-face events?
Absolutely, virtual events will simply never give you the same experience. I am missing all types of face-to-face gatherings whether it's the buzz of a room full of people gathered for a mutual experience or a one-to-one with a customer or colleague.
Networking has been an important staple of our industry and there is no question that we all miss this. However, thanks to technology we have found new ways of staying connected with our colleagues, peers, business partners and customers.
How will COVID leave its mark on the way the channel operates long term?
Before the pandemic, businesses didn't have to think too hard about how to interact with customers. Changes in human attitudes and behaviours has forced organisations to respond, but it is a mistake to think that this is all temporary. COVID has changed the experience of being a customer, an employee and a human. With technology as an enabler of change, the channel has an opportunity to be central to this in how we engage with our customers. We must understand our customers' needs, embrace digital acceleration and build our service offerings to ensure that technology is a key enabler. However, with more people working remotely, human connection is still a high priority customer need and as the channel, we must keep this at the heart of our business model.