What has been your personal highlight of 2020?
My personal highlight has been the way that all our Celerity staff have reacted to the complete change in working conditions and excelled in each of their disciplines.
There was no fuss, no aggravation, just knuckling down and adapting quickly, efficiently and seamlessly. I am immensely proud of what they all have achieved and what we have therefore achieved as Celerity. As a business owner in such uncertain times, knowing that you have such a strong team behind you is priceless.
Which three celebrities would you invite to a Zoom party?
Rishi Sunak, for a reasoned insight into what is actually going on in the country. Sir David Attenborough to gain a better understanding of what is happening in the wider natural world and Carlo Ancelotti to understand how to manage and motivate a group of individuals to achieve eminence.
What has been your guiltiest lockdown pleasure?
I live rurally, so while in lockdown I have spent quite a bit of my spare time labouring on agricultural land. Fixing fences, clearing rocks and stones, topping fields, clearing woods, jetting drains, trying (and losing) to reason with sheep and all manner of activities that require zero digital input. It's a complete change of scenery that I really enjoy and allows me to switch off - oh and it keeps me from annoying my wife!
Which tech figurehead has inspired you most this year, and why?
In this most strange of years to pick out one figurehead would be wrong as the tech industry has stepped up to challenges faced by the world in the time of the pandemic. Whether it is the leadership of collaboration companies that have allowed education for our children to continue, or the leaders of internet providers who have had to deal with unprecedented spikes in activity from home, or the medical technology providers who are working to innovate the delivery mechanisms and the treatments in these times, I think all the leaders in tech both large and small have been inspirational.
What piece of technology, or app, have you not been able to do without during the pandemic?
Obviously, MS Teams has been fantastic during lockdown for employee collaboration, however I have found Celerity's Intuition platform invaluable for our business. Intuition proactively keeps me updated and gives me a view of the health and availability of all our systems and services. It gives me the assurance that our own internal data, our customers' data and business-critical operations remain safe and secure at all times while being managed by our security, systems and network operations teams. When the pandemic hit, we were able to switch to full remote working overnight and our business operations continued like clockwork, ensuring we continued to provide business-critical services to our customers.
If you could be anyone else for a week, who would you be and what would you do?
I would like to spend a week as my daughter to understand how this world looks as a nearly 10-year-old child in current times. The world is a lot different from when I was 10. I would like to experience her love of netball and how a couple of chapters of the Worst Witch can be so calming at bedtime.
As a member of her school council she is trying to help others and make positive changes for her peers, and I know we can all learn from that. At her age, with her peers, there is a profound sense of community and belonging which I know I could learn from. I'm also very keen to understand how easy it is for her to manipulate me, repeatedly. That would certainly be useful in future years!
Do you miss face-to-face events?
Absolutely. I have spent the last 30 -odd years in face-to-face meetings, so they have been a huge part of my working life. Much as I enjoy Teams and working online, I don't think there is any substitute for meeting people face to face. It's much more personal and gives you the opportunity to get to really know the person, their goals and aspirations and not just around their current role and projects - that is very important to me.
How will COVID leave its mark on the way the channel operates long term?
The shift to a managed service-oriented delivery model will continue to grow and accelerate in the marketplace alongside an accelerated focus on digital transformation for ourselves and our customers. The digital transformation focus has accelerated the move to hybrid cloud, meaning that although there will always be, and must be, a role for on-premise solutions, all channel businesses also need cloud solutions so that customers can work with the ‘build once, deploy anywhere' methodology.
Agile, resilient and highly available has become the norm in services delivered to the channel's clients and moving forward, customers are unlikely to consider any solution that does not encompass these traits.