What has been your personal highlight of 2020?
My eldest starting high school successfully. She was utterly terrified about it, especially after not really leaving the house for six months or finishing primary school properly (and unfortunately also having parents who have discovered they are terrible educators)! Thankfully, she absolutely loves it and comes home bursting with excitement every day. It's so lovely to see and such a relief after many months of fears and tears leading up to it.
Which three celebrities would you invite to a Zoom party?
I'll take a risk and go with two ageing, (but very interesting and entertaining) national treasures and hope I don't jinx anything before this article is published! Sir David Attenborough and Prince Phillip. Then for the third I would choose Keanu Reeves because by all accounts he's the loveliest and kindest person you could meet so I'd like to find out for myself, and if he's lovely but dull I'm sure Prince Phillip will let him know!
What has been your guiltiest lockdown pleasure?
As our head office, and therefore the office canteen hasn't been open, the owner of the canteen has been making and delivering the most delicious home-made pies to our doors every week to keep his business ticking over. My lockdown food now revolves around cheese and onion pie and steak, veg and potato pie - preferably a small slice of each in the same meal - sometimes two or three times a day! They never get boring, take one minute to warm up in between Teams meetings and of course have been wonderful for my figure!
Which tech figurehead has inspired you most this year, and why?
Having just read today's Megabyte piece on Virtual 1, Tom O'Hagan is front of mind. It's always great to see a partner of DCS doing well, but doubly so when the CEO is the founder and a genuinely lovely person (Keanu Reeves in disguise?) who you want to see succeed.
I had met many of Tom's employees before I met Tom himself and had heard nothing but great reports on how much he cares for the V1 team and how he is also a big advocate of equality and diversity - showing it through his actions rather than just saying words. Having a reputation like this precedes you, while also building and growing a business that is well thought of by partners, and very easy to do business with is so hard to achieve and seeing it has certainly been a cockle warmer for me.
What piece of technology, or app, have you not been able to do without during the pandemic?
Teams of course! Life without Teams this year would have been so much more difficult. I'm definitely not an early adopter generally, so personally was quite late to the ‘using Teams for everything' party after we launched it for use in DCS, but that very quickly changed this March and I certainly appreciate it now and seem to live in it all day, every day when working.
If you could be anyone else for a week, who would you be and what would you do?
An astronaut on the ISS. Seeing Earth from space must be such an incredible experience and I'm pretty sure it will give you a huge reality check about sweating the small stuff when you're down here doing real life on the pale blue dot.
Do you miss face-to-face events?
I like people's real-life faces, but I don't like the huge time suck of travel that's involved in getting anywhere when you live in remote countryside in the North, so for me it's swings and roundabouts. I like a balance of real life and virtual interactions. Events I could probably live without face to face, but fostering good relationships with customers and partners is so much better for me when we are face to face in any situation. I really miss spending time face to face with my team and the camaraderie and atmosphere of being in a busy office.
How will COVID leave its mark on the way the channel operates long term?
Focusing on the end user has never been so important and I don't think that new level of importance will go away soon. Changing the way we work as a nation to become homeworking-centric has led to new challenges for businesses, especially around the working environment and its enablement, security, data protection and a multitude of vulnerabilities. Without a priority focus on the end user and their entire working ecosystem we could fail to help our customers operate successfully and with adequate protection.