Where did you grow up?
I was born in Wimbledon, London and lived South West of London as a child. As I grew up, I lived at various places across South West London and lastly in Chelsea where I became a Blues supporter before moving to Sydney in late 2000. In 2009, I moved to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia for three years and experienced the wonders of South East Asia.
Did you go to University? What did you study there?
I studied accountancy in South West London, but quickly learnt that my interests lay elsewhere and I left after achieving a HND and started in the IT industry implementing, training and supporting multi-user accounting systems. So I have become qualified by experience.
What drew you to the IT industry?
It was a great place to bring a blend of experiences and interests together. As I implemented accounting systems I learnt how to engage with customers and address their needs whilst enjoying a fast moving industry. I also got to engage with different types of technology, which I enjoy. When I moved to Microsoft in 1993 I was a support engineer taking 70 calls a day, resolving technical issues with Microsoft Office, the first version! The energy and excitement in the industry and from customers was incredible. It is often hard for those who were not part of that growth period to understand what an exiting time it was. The IT industry continues to evolve rapidly and disrupt itself and that keeps me fascinated in the work I do.
How would you compare the Asian and Australian tech industries?
Living in Malaysia for three years was an amazing experience both professionally and socially, and I would certainly recommend it to everyone. The major differences are: ‘mature market thinking’ versus ‘emerging market thinking’. This can result in very surprising behaviours and results. There are instances where big bold projects are easier to achieve in Asia due to the lack of legacy systems in place, and then others where infrastructure dependency made some things very hard.
The Asian market has a pulse and energy that is driving a number of technology trends, including mobility and Social Networking. Asia also looks to Australia for examples of best practice, new ideas and emerging trends. I was constantly being asked about how Australian businesses are adopting new technologies. Given how close trade links are between Australia and the broader Asia market, this opens up many opportunities for businesses to develop new markets, alliances and customer connections.
What do you do to unwind?
Spending time with family, friends etc. One of my favourite activities in terms of sport is road cycling. 18 months ago, eight of us participated in a bike ride from Perth to Sydney and we are hoping to do this again next year. It had been an aspiration to do this for eight years. Training three hours every day on a stationary bicycle is very tedious, but it prepares you for the boredom of the Nullabor. In doing the ride you consume around 6,500 calories a day, so three tins of cold baked beans with tuna and soya sauce became a culinary experience, one you do not see on Master Chef! The best part of the day was the 5am ride watching the sunrise across the outback – spectacular.
What makes you laugh?
Funny thing, being British by birth I have a dry sense of humour and need to have fun in what I do.
What is your favourite piece of technology?
I have two – having been in KL I love my rice cooker! It’s just a great way to get dependable cooked rice with no effort. From a personal side I adore my Kindle eBook. It is a single purpose device that does what it says on the tin. The integration with the Amazon store makes carrying multiple books when travelling, simple, quick and lightweight. I am also very intrigued by the way it is changing the publishing world by offering everyone in the chance to write, publish and sell a book.
Are you married with kids?
Yes I am married with two kids – they are 6 and 4 and that will do nicely.