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Five-minute interview: Tim Britt, Dropbox

MicroScope talks to Tim Britt, Dropbox’s director of sales and channel for Central Europe, about what his thoughts on the channel and what gets him up in the morning

Morning Tim, tell us what you do for a living.

After spending the past 16-plus years building and developing sales teams and partner programmes across Europe, the Middle East and South Africa, I’m currently working at Dropbox as the director of sales and channel for Central Europe. 

Why are you the right person for this job?

I’ve been working with global organisations such as IBM, Polycom, Cybereason and Dropbox for more than 16 years. During this time, I have gained both extensive experience selling complex solutions across all go to market (small and medium-sized businesses and enterprises) and knowledge of how to manage global transformation projects. 

What gets you up in the morning?

The opportunity to learn something new. I’m a very determined individual and everyday I try to succeed at something new. I’ve recently taken up running and just completed my first half marathon in my 40s. I enjoy having the ability to push myself, meet new people and help somebody have a great day.

Who helped you get to where you are today?

A combination of a number of great mentors over the years. I was very lucky to start my career in the Royal Navy and then worked with some amazing leaders at IBM, Polycom and Dropbox.  

But I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the people I’ve had the privilege to lead, manage and mentor over the years. One life lesson I’ve always kept in mind: if those around you aren’t successful, neither are you.  

What is the best or worst business advice you have received and from whom?

Best advice: Its only 00000s. It doesn't matter if it’s a £10,000 deal or a £10,00000 deal, treat everybody with respect and the attention they deserve. Every customer is just as important. 

Worst advice: Don’t talk to the CEO. Leaders need to understand what is happening at a street level, so don’t be scared to ask that challenging questions and be heard.

What advice would you give to someone starting out today in IT?

Take your time and try different elements, such as sales, the channel and marketing. When I look at other leaders’ CVs, they have experience in all departments. Don’t just rush into the first IT role that comes along – work for a company that excites you, and believe in the technology. 

Is it possible to get through an industry conversation without mentioning ‘digital transformation’?

Absolutely not, it’s front of mind for every business right now. A high percentage of customers are now purchasing technical solutions online, so the channel is having to adapt to this new way of selling.

It’s key to have a strong online presence demonstrating the integration service you can provide – point solutions can easily be purchased directly from the vendor, so it’s the integration/management/deployment where customers need the most help. 

What does the next five years hold for the channel?

The next five years for the channel will be transformational, and I think three big trends will appear. 

First, one of the most important trends we’ll start to see is businesses moving customers away from a direct transaction model through their own sales teams to interacting and billing via a selected number of partners. This will allow companies to interact with their customer through a number of trusted resellers, who either are in the position of having established a great working relationship with a particular customer or are willing to invest in building a new one.

Tim Britt

 “One life lesson I’ve always kept in mind: if those around you aren’t successful, neither are you”

Tim Britt, Dropbox

Second, the role of distributors will change. The role of distributors have already started to change, but this will be one of the biggest disruptors in the channel industry. For software-as-a-service vendors, it’s not just about providing an advanced marketplace for transactions – they still look to distributors to provide value-added services around new resellers, recruitment, enablement and knowledge-based services.

Last, a new customer buying approach will start to appear. Due to the pandemic, a high percentage of customers are now purchasing technical solutions online, so the channel industry has to adapt to this new way of selling. In the next five years, we’ll see the rise of channel partners that have a strong online presence. They will need to demonstrate their integration services and how they can make the customer journey much simpler and smoother. 

Tell us something most people do not know about you

I spent a week in a snow hole in -30°C to raise money for the British Legion in the Arctic, and my father-in-law drove the Hogwarts Express in all the Harry Potter films. 

What goal do you have to achieve before you die, and why?

A big goal of mine is to play golf at Augusta National in the US where the Masters Tournament is held. 

However, I believe you should always have multiple goals in order to achieve greatness – you should set a short-, mid- and long-term goal. 

My short-term goal was to get fit. My mid-term goal is to complete a 100km race across the Arctic Circle – which I’m doing next year! Then my long-term goal is that I want to live in a ski resort and ski every day. 

What is the best book you've ever read?

All of my favourite books are written by Jeffrey Archer. He is such a great storyteller, from the old classics such as Kane and Abel to the Clifton Chronicles. I’m a big fan of reading an actual book – there is something great about switching off from a device and reading a book

And the worst film you’ve ever seen?

Tropic Thunder.

What would be your Desert Island MP3s?

AC/DC, Queen and any 90s rock – you can’t beat the air guitar to get you moving around and smiling.

What temptation can you not resist?

Buying ski wear! As per my long-term goal, I’m stocking up so I’m always prepare. And, chocolate.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with? Why, what did they do?

My kids – I have five, and I know they’ll all have endless questions! They’ll want to know how the mechanics of how a lift works and why the door won’t open...and they’ll be hungry. 

If you could be any animal for a day, what would you be and why?

A giraffe. I like being nosey. Being that tall means I’d be able to see what’s going on up high and down low.  

If you were facing awesome peril and impossible odds, which real or fictional person would you most want on your side and why?

Jason Bourne – who else would you need? I’d say the Fall Guy as well, but not sure how well he’s known these days.

And finally, a grizzly bear and a silverback gorilla are getting ready for a no-holds-barred rumble. Who is your money on and why?

A grizzly bear. They hibernate for 6 months, so they’re bound to be starving when they wake up. Starvation and anger can only result in one thing – being hangry! 

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