What has been your business highlight of 2022?
Without wanting to brag, we have so many to choose from this year. ITHQ is shortlisted for several national awards - Lloyds British Business Excellence Awards and SME National Awards for best new business, as well as a CRN Rising Star for the second year. Our soaring customer lifetime value, adding 11 key new target client wins so far in the first two quarters. We've also launched Life In IT, our CSR initiative and grown our team. Our relentless focus on solving for the customer has brought us some really exciting rewards.
If you were ruler of your own country, what law would you introduce first?
It would be all about improving public services. Punishments would be put in place if CEOs, board members and management teams that run key utilities and services failed to deliver. Water, electricity, trains and so on… they have to provide the prescribed service at the right price or face consequences. I would also bring back national conscription of some sort for young people. Not necessarily the armed forces, but I think it would sort out many, many modern issues if we all spent six months in public service. I think it would give us insights into the lives of others, make us more humble and reduce greed.
Which channel or tech leader (outside of your own company) has impressed you most in 2022?
Ed Meyercord, president and CEO of Extreme Networks. He is not scared to do things differently, of shaking up the status quo. He took on the 800lb gorilla that is Cisco and won on all fronts. He is giving customers choice on software and platforms, with a real focus on 58 ChannelWeb.co.uk A-LIST 2023 innovation, making networking easier and driving true value. He has created a cost-effective subscription model that works for everyone. As a result, Extreme have won loads of big contracts with UK football arenas and in the US, they are having even bigger wins. The systems he's put in place for partners are equally brilliant. It is really easy to do business with them. Meyercord has only been there for seven years but he has driven seriously powerful change.
If you had a warning label, what would it say?
"Warning: Will bore you to death by repeating ‘solve for the customer'." Or perhaps: "Allergic to bullshit."
What was your first job?
I was a tree feller, paid to get rid of dead wood. Read into that what you will.
What was the last book you read, and was it any good?
Dark Rivers of the Heart by Dean Koontz. Fantastic. A nice tech focus, a bit Enemy of the State and I love stories like that. It's quite old too, so it's interesting to see ‘future tech' in the rearview mirror.
What's the most important lesson you've learned from another business leader or mentor?
Warren Buffet has been an inspiration for as long as I can remember. It is from him that I learned about value investing, but he also taught me way more: to not be afraid of swimming against the tide, to seek opportunity in chaos and to be patient and look for value when the world is knee-jerking. These are all lessons that I've drawn on again and again - particularly when we launched ITHQ as the world disappeared beneath Covid.
Who would play you in a movie of your life?
Will Smith. We share the same work ethic and sense of humour (possibly the same fiery temper too). And the physical similarities… well - see for yourself.