What has been your personal highlight of 2020?
I am extremely proud of how The Academia Group has responded to the pandemic, including my wonderful team of 120-plus staff. But I would have to reserve my greatest source of pride for the recent purchase of The Academia Group by Andrew Harman. Not only is this my biggest highlight of 2020, but the most significant day in the 17-year history of Academia.
Which three celebrities would you invite to a Zoom party?
I'd start with Gordon Ramsay to ensure my party guests are well fed (with home-delivered food parcels of course). Entertainment would be provided by Alan Partridge for comedy value, with the final place reserved for Bobby Moore - possibly the greatest British footballer ever and certainly the only one to lift the World Cup. Hopefully heaven has access to Zoom!
What has been your guiltiest lockdown pleasure?
My sugar intake has increased by 1,000 per cent, including having elevenses three times a day!
Which tech figurehead has inspired you most this year, and why?
Elon Musk is a divisive figure, but he's using his wealth to improve the planet and mankind - which this year included his successful SpaceX expedition.
What piece of technology, or app, have you not been able to do without during the pandemic?
Without doubt it's got to be Microsoft Teams, which has enabled our staff to remain productive and in touch with each other throughout lockdown.
And we love the added bonus of being able to select different backgrounds on calls, which has allowed us to hold meetings in some very interesting locations.
If you could be anyone else for a week, who would you be and what would you do?
As a passionate Hammer, it would have to be either David Gold or David Sullivan (owners of West Ham United FC). I would turn my beloved Hammers into a European force on the pitch, rebuild Upton Park and change the shirt sponsors to Academia!
Do you miss face-to-face events?
Of course, who doesn't? There's nothing like face-to-face interaction, but I've enjoyed the challenge of ensuring communication remains consistent.
How will COVID leave its mark on the way the channel operates long term?
Our messaging in 2020 has promoted a mobile/remote workforce, and it's advice that we've implemented ourselves. If Academia is typical of the channel, I expect that we will never go back to being in the office five days a week again.
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