What has been your personal highlight of 2020?
The response that the people of Comms-care and Ingram Micro have continually demonstrated throughout the pandemic. I am sure this will be a common answer, but this has genuinely been my highlight. Watching our people not only cope but excel in such circumstances has been humbling and rewarding. We all handle crisis differently and seeing first-hand the support which people have provided, often unconsciously to one another is beyond words.
We have come through this pandemic with industry awards and nominations, added vendor elite specialisations and enabled our partners to transform to a new way of working. We could not have done any of it without the passion and togetherness of our people - they amaze me.
Which three celebrities would you invite to a Zoom party?
Ricky Gervais would be there, not only for his comedy, but I also enjoy his direct and no-nonsense approach to some of the important debates. Although I am sure this will be a popular choice, Sir David Attenborough would need to be there as I love all things animal and nature. My final choice would be Lizzo. She is one of my favourite people to follow on all things social and my Spotify most-played artist so I think a virtual brandy with her would be great.
What has been your guiltiest lockdown pleasure?
When you are stuck inside, the outside looks even more beautiful. I spent a lot of time bird watching of all things - if the 20-year-old me could see me getting excited about a lovely bullfinch or nuthatch I think he would be having a word! I'm still trying to tempt the lesser spotted woodpecker, I live in hope.
Which tech figurehead has inspired you most this year, and why?
Not any one person, but any person in tech who does something beyond their social posts. The person who does not just write a blog on making STEM better in schools but who goes into them to talk and inspire the next generation. Who doesn't think that a black picture with #BLM is enough but instead instils a real culture of inclusion and diversity within their everyday life. We have many challenges we have to get better on and while words are great and so important, action is better - those with action inspire me...anyone with action.
What piece of technology, or app, have you not been able to do without during the pandemic?
Just Eat and Amazon. If you are locked down it feels better with a burger in one hand, a new squirrel-proof bird feeder, a letter opener and a chainsaw in the other I genuinely bought these items during lockdown for some reason.
If you could be anyone else for a week, who would you be and what would you do?
My perfect daughter. I think it's tough for teens these days and it would be great to see the world through her lens and maybe take lessons on what we can do to improve it. What would I do? Sit her business GCSE as she hates it. Maybe I could help.
Do you miss face-to-face events?
Yes - so much communication occurs non-verbally and I just don't think it comes across the same virtually. I am massively impressed by some of the innovation that some companies have done to build a personal experience on a virtual platform though.
How will COVID leave its mark on the way the channel operates long term?
I think it's safe to say that we will not be having many meetings for meetings' sake in person any time soon! With such great adoption of virtual platforms, I think that when the world returns to some sort of new normal there will be far greater scrutiny on the meetings we attend and the meetings we have online.
I believe the channel will be more important than ever with customers not only asking how they can use technology to grow and succeed but also how to adopt technology for business efficiency and perhaps even survival. The channel needs to adapt to have the answers to these tough questions and those that do not will quickly be displaced. How ethically a business has operated throughout the COVID challenge will also begin to creep into buying decisions - as well it should.