Darren Hedley

clock • 3 min read

What has been your personal highlight of 2020?

It's a huge privilege to take on the role of UK managing director at Insight. I've started the onboarding process ahead of taking on the role in January, and can't wait for the opportunity to lead such a talented and driven team.

Although lockdown was tough, having the chance to spend quality time with my Dad was a real highlight and something that just wouldn't have happened in normal circumstances. I am grateful for that.

Which three celebrities would you invite to a Zoom party?

Firstly, George Michael. Although he's no longer with us, I'm taking a bit of creative licence with this one. Not only did he make a long-lasting contribution to music during his lifetime, but his philanthropy - most of which came to light following his passing - was remarkable. I have a huge amount of respect for those who can quietly, through simple acts of kindness and generosity, make a difference. Plus, he would have an extensive back catalogue to draw from if we run out of topics.

Next, Nicola Adams OBE. An undefeated Olympic champion. She always gives 100 per cent and has a fantastic work ethos. I remember reading an interview around the time she secured gold in the European Games where she remarked: "I'm like a ‘comeback kid' - you can't keep me down for long!" This particularly resonated with me, I'm very driven to succeed and to see Insight continue to succeed. I'll be cheering Nicola on when Strictly Come Dancing hits our screens!

Finally, Elon Musk. Where to start. Electric cars? Space rockets? This is a man who is focused on addressing three crises facing humanity: climate, human and single-planet dependency. He's fascinating. Don't get me wrong, he's not perfect, but what a visionary. I think it would be great to pick his brains and find out what he has next up his sleeve.

What has been your guiltiest lockdown pleasure?

Let's just say my Amazon driver is now my new best friend, thanks to his daily visits. The extent of my purchases does mean, however, that I now urgently need a clear-out.

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

I'm not sure I could pick just one. I have been deeply impressed with lots of individuals who have reacted quickly to support the NHS, whether through providing free equipment or diverting resources. It's great to be part of an industry that has been providing solutions to the problems we're currently facing; those who have done so should be very proud.

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

My selfie toaster, which provided whole minutes of fun. See, I told you I don't need most of the Amazon purchases!

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

The prime minister. It would be an extremely tough job, particularly at the moment, but I'd relish the opportunity to get to grips with all the challenges and make direct, positive change to the world.

Do you miss face-to-face events?

While the adoption of video technology has been brilliant, nothing can completely replace physical interactions. I do miss in-person work in general, although, interestingly, I probably get the chance to speak with even more people across the business now than when we were all in the office.

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

It's clear that working patterns have changed and there's been a huge shift towards remote working, which is likely to continue. At Insight, we've seen no loss in productivity during lockdown - in fact, it's quite the opposite as teams have embraced the flexibility remote working can bring.

As an industry, the ability to be agile and react to fast changes in customers will be key to success. As business resiliency becomes a key priority, the channel will need to step up and provide ever-greater knowledge and thought leadership, driving the technological change customers need to navigate a path through disruption in this new world.

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