What has been your personal highlight of 2021?
Like so many of us, the pandemic has resulted in separation from extended family and friends. In September, I had the opportunity to travel to Ireland, to spend time with my parents for the first time since Christmas 2019. We spent time on the southwest coast, visiting much loved places in West Cork and Kerry. Seeing them happy and healthy after so long and knowing it would not be long before we would see each other again, was a wonderful highlight.
Which tech figurehead has impressed you the most this year, and why?
2021 has been an immensely challenging year for so many organisations and industries, and perhaps none so much as health services. The UK in particular has done an impressive job of digitising the NHS and an individual at the heart of this, Tara Donnelly, is someone I have been very impressed with. The work she is performing as NHSX chief digital officer (CDO) has been instrumental in keeping the clinical staff workload at manageable levels, especially through the introduction of office 365 at the heart of the pandemic. Her work in 2021 on the "elective recovery tech fund" will promote tech solutions enabling remote recovery with virtual wards, pre-surgical digital support and use of robotic process automation to reduce the administrative burden on staff. I truly wish her and her team every success in this digital transformation programme.
Which one lockdown habit do you plan to keep going?
When I stopped commuting, I made sure to still get up and out every morning, running or walking. I am a morning exerciser - not an evening one. I intend to keep that up, even if it means pounding the streets in the pitch dark.
Which face-to-face industry event are you most excited to return to, and why?
Microsoft Inspire is our annual global partner event. It's a fantastic moment for our partner ecosystem to come together, celebrate and reflect on all our achievements and I'm excited for the day when we can come together in person.
Inspire gives us the opportunity to see how our partners are empowering customers to build more transformative, agile and resilient organisations with Microsoft technology. From equipping organisations with the collaboration tools they need to drive growth, to supporting them in migrating operations to the cloud, I'm in awe of what our partners achieve every year and we work hard to support them in their individual journeys, ensuring we can all succeed together.
If you had the time to learn one new skill, what would it be?
To speak French or Spanish fluently. The former I have a good background in already, having lived in France early in my career, but I have gone rusty unfortunately.
By the end of 2021 I will decide which to take on. And then I just need to find the time too!
If you could go back in time and tell your childhood self one thing, what would you say?
There are so many things I have learned over the years that would have been great to know as a child. However, it is also very important to have learned so many of them myself. If I had been told that the tech industry was so exciting, I probably would have told myself to do a technology-related course at university and not civil engineering. Saying that, I do still enjoy looking at a modern road bridge and having a really good appreciation of how it was constructed. In some ways, it's much more challenging than tech.
If you had to sing karaoke, what would be your song of choice?
I doubt anyone could ever convince me to sing karaoke, but if forced, maybe Oasis - Don't Look Back In Anger.
Sum 2021 up in three words.
Freedom, new beginnings, optimism.