This week, MicroScope puts its questions to Paul Dobbs, UK channel manager at Intact Software.
Tell us what you do for a living
I am the UK channel manager at Intact Software with 2,000 customers across the UK and Ireland. Whilst we have a number of existing channel partners that approached us, the model to date has been predominantly direct. My role has been to launch Intact iQ (a single, fully customisable, unified platform for Accounting/ERP, CRM and Business Intelligence, automating key business functions across all departments) in the UK with a focus on the channel programme. I've also been tasked with recruiting a UK based technical team with the ultimate aim of recruiting new partners.
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Why are you the right person for this job?
I started out as a direct salesperson/sales manager, so I have a good understanding of sales processes which is useful when engaging with partners. I moved into indirect sales about 12 years ago having worked in channel roles for Sage, Orange Business Services and SAP. So, I have a long heritage of working with partners in the ERP/CRM/BI space.
What gets you up in the morning?
An eight mile run! I am training for the 2012 London Marathon and it's the only time I get. Apart from that, it's the people you work with that matters most, good people and a great atmosphere - it's the only thing that's sustainable, really. Intact has been going for 20 years and a good cultural fit is always a key ingredient of the recruitment process, which shows in the people and atmosphere of the company.
Who helped you get to where you are today?
The sales director who offered me my first sales job. My background was in commercial property surveying which didn't suit me, so I started looking at various sales roles. He was a great salesman and spent a lot of time showing me the ropes. Even though I am in an indirect sales role now, the principles are the same and have stuck with me.
What is the best or worst business advice you have received and from whom?
After university, I studied to be a chartered surveyor focussed on commercial property management and letting. I had passed all the exams and just needed to complete two years in practice to fully qualify: I did one year and realised it wasn't for me. So, I decided to focus on a career in sales. Just about everyone told me I should stick with a profession having invested so much, but I have never ever regretted walking away from surveying despite the property boom of the last 15 years.
What advice would you give to someone starting out today in IT?
I would really encourage them. Few other industries offer so much opportunity at home and abroad, so much more stimulating than more traditional professions.
Will Windows 8 be the new XP, or the new Vista?
No idea, I'd have to ask my 13 year old daughter!
What does the next five years hold for the channel?
It depends on the product/market. But more generally, tough economic conditions look set to continue for some time and some vendors will look at taking more deals directly. Cloud computing will continue to grow and will be a challenge for more traditional VAR's who are used to margin, services and ongoing maintenance. Traditionally, the partner has fronted the deal and the end user has seen himself as a customer of the partner - cloud changes this dynamic - the challenge for vendors will be to alter channel perception and show partners how they can make money from the cloud.
Tell us something most people do not know about you
I spent about three years travelling/working my way around the world from the age of 18. I went through Europe, Middle East, Far East, Australia, New Zealand and USA. My jobs included a kitchen hand in a seafood restaurant, farm labourer, gardener, door to door salesman, waiter, barman, office temp, dairy farmer and fish farmer.
What goal do you have to achieve before you die, and why?
As I just mentioned, I went travelling when I was younger, but lack of finances meant I couldn't go to all the places I wanted. I had to go where the work was - I would love to travel through South America because I've never been near there and it just appeals.
What is the best book you've ever read?
Shantaran. The epic true story of an Australian who escaped from prison in Australia and ends up on the run in India. He gets involved with the Indian Mafia and Afghanistan - it's a stunning story and beautifully written.
And the worst film you've ever seen?
St Elmo's fire. An 80's US brat pack movie with Rob Lowe, Demi Moore etc. Rob Lowe as the saxophone player nobody understands is a low point but a great laugh.
What would be your Desert Island MP3s?
I like such a wide range of music it would be an impossible choice. Some nice laid back Jazz would be great for watching the sunsets whilst sipping some home brew.
What temptation can you not resist?
Good cheese, smellier and runnier the better.
What was your first car and how does it compare with what you drive now?
My first car was a Chrysler Alpine which I bought from a farmer up the road from our house and it was a really terrible buy. It looked and drove terribly and I have no idea why I bought it. I now drive an oldish diesel Audi A4 which never goes wrong. I have never been a car person - I'll be interested in cars when someone can sell me a car that appreciates by 50% over 3 years rather than depreciates by 50% (if you are lucky!).
Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with? Why, what did they do?
Rolf Harris - he created the wobble board, stylophone and a string of appalling hits - a mystery to me how someone like this could ever become remotely famous.
If you could be any animal for a day, what would you be and why?
Any meat eater, I couldn't be bothered grazing all day, too many other things to do.
If you could represent Great Britain (or your home country) at one event in the 2012 Olympics, which would you choose and why?
100 meters, the main event of the Olympics. Everyone loves the 100m - who watches shooting?
If you were facing awesome peril and impossible odds, which real or fictional person would you most want on your side and why?
I can't think of a specific name, but I always read the obituaries in the newspapers and most amazing of all are the ones about the old guys from the Second World War. Many were blown up, shot to pieces, captured, tortured, escaped from prison, they always have names such as Chuffy 'Rivets' Chuffnell (so much shrapnel lodged in their bodies). If you made these stories up people would think the story is ridiculous, they were often small unassuming guys who came from very ordinary backgrounds but war and their unbelievable bravery meant they lead the most amazing lives.
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?
None, I'd run a mile and use the money to buy a couple of pints of good real ale somewhere to recover.