27 July 2023
Who was your hero when you were growing up?
That would have to be my Grandfather, George Edwards. George was a well-respected electronic engineer at a company called Radyne based in Molly Millers Lane, Wokingham. I spent a lot of my childhood with my Grandad. He taught me about circuit board design, electronic components, and fault-finding. This helped kick-start my career as I left school and continued further education in micro and digital electronics.
What was your big career break?
My mother-in-law found an advert in a newspaper for the role of bench technician for a data storage company called ‘Archive’ (formally known as Cipher), in Wokingham, just off Molly Millers Lane. How coincidental is that? This is where I cut my teeth in the data storage world, by repairing and testing ¼”, ½”, 8mm and 4mm tape drives. When Archive was acquired by Conner, continuing to work there would have meant relocating to Scotland. So instead, I accepted an offer at Overland Data as an EMEA application engineer. It’s now 34 years later and I’m still in the same game. I’ve spent 22 of those years at Spectra Logic, transitioning from the role of solution architect to VP of sales EMEA & India. My job is all about building long-term relationships; listening to customers’ needs, their business problems and architecting tools towards a resolution. So, in a way, the skills I learnt from my grandfather are still very much alive today.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
This is a tough question. Even kids of today have no idea. What I did know is that I wanted to be a man. Can I say that? I was always very practical, so I knew I would either be an engineer or mechanic. I also had a keen interest in aviation and had dreams of becoming a helicopter pilot, though I took another path in the end.
If you could dine with any famous person, past or present, who would you choose?
Jeremy Clarkson. He’s funny, rude, and straight shooting, which I like. Oh, and because of the fact that he likes cars. I can only imagine the stories he could tell. Jeremy also admits when he is wrong, unlike others I won’t mention.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Back in the early days of my early career I tended to work long hours and spent many days away from home, typically never switching off from work. Until one day, one of my employees said to me: “we work to live, not live to work.” It made me realise I had my priorities all wrong. This advice gave me a more balanced perspective, which has impacted how I now plan and schedule my workload, as well as what I expect from my team.
If you had to work in a different industry, which would you choose?
As you may have gathered, I am a petrolhead and have a huge passion for motorsport. In another life, I would have loved to be branch manager or customer care manager at a high-end car dealership. Apart from what I do now, nothing could be better than being around cars and maintaining customer satisfaction. In my younger days I sent an email to Porsche HQ expressing my interest, to which they did respond and asked me to send my CV. But in the end, I decided to take the data storage route instead, and I have no regrets. I’m passionate about utilising my skills to resolve customer challenges; educating and helping them to optimise their data by leveraging on-premise and cloud storage to gain the best of both worlds with a hybrid cloud approach. As Spectra Logic develops data management and storage solutions for a wide range of dynamic vertical industries, including supercomputing, media and entertainment, and the motoring industry (including Formula 1 teams), I’m never too far away from the action!
The Rolling Stones or the Beatles?
Who? I’m only 50 so The Beatles had expired by the time I understood music. I’m more of a Queen, Meat Loaf & Pink Floyd guy! However, if I had to choose between the two, I would choose The Beatles, as from all the footage I have seen, they seemed to come across as a true ‘boy band,’ respectful of each other and portraying a more positive outlook. Sorry Mick.
What would you do with £1 million?
Well £1 million isn’t much these days. Still, my wife and I enjoy walking, especially coastal walks. So, we would buy a property down by the sea, not too far from our family… Oh, and buy a McLaren or Porsche GT3-RS for myself, of course!
What’s the greatest technological advancement in your lifetime?
I would have to say the mobile phone. We’ve evolved from carrying a brick around just to make and receive calls, and now we have the whole world in our pockets.