Simon Culmer leads the Avaya business in the UK and Ireland and is responsible for ensuring that the company’s global strategy is executed in the region. He is an industry veteran with nearly 30 years’ experience in IT sales and management and has worked at companies such as Huawei Technologies, Sun Microsystems and Cisco.
In his spare time, Culmer reflects upon why on earth he bought a half share in a military tank that now resides at a friend’s hotel in Arromanches in Normandy.
V3: What would be your dream job?
Simon Culmer: I’d be a Formula 1 team manager because I adore the sport. It’s the rate of technology development that keeps me hooked. The way they push the boundaries of technology and challenge the rule book, and at the same time provide such great entertainment is truly amazing.
Which mobile phone and tablet do you currently use?
I’ve currently got an iPhone 4 and an iPad 3.
Which person do you most admire in the IT industry?
Without a doubt Steve Jobs. He redefined what personal technology does for us and inspired the creation of products that we didn’t even know we needed. I met him once back in the 90s and he had an amazing presence.
Which technology has had the biggest impact on your working life?
It may seem like an obvious answer but I’d say hands down it’s the internet. It has genuinely changed the world and it has been immense fun being part of bringing that change about.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Creating real jobs and working with people who are really passionate about technology and what it can do.
What was your first job?
I worked on a pig farm in Suffolk for three years while I was still at school. I learnt to drive, to lay concrete, to build agricultural buildings, and most importantly that I had an allergy to barley dust, and could cope with extreme smells.
What will be the next big innovation of the coming years?
I think we’ll see a continuing cross-over from gaming into business. We have a product called AvayaLive Engage, which is loosely based on a Second Life type of experience. I was very cynical about it until I attended a virtual meeting with about 200 colleagues, but from a small hotel room, alone.
The experience was uncanny in that after the meeting it was as if I had been in the auditorium with all of the attendees and as well as receiving all of the broadcast content, presentations, speeches, handouts etc, I also engaged in many side-bar conversations and virtually bumped into other colleagues as if we had all been together in the same venue. Spooky, not what I expected at all and highly productive.
What keeps you awake at night?
Winning, out-strategising, out-executing, out-thinking and out-maneuvering our competition.
What was the last book you read and was it any good?
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. It was very funny, barely credible and thoroughly entertaining.
Who is your favourite band or musician?
Amy Winehouse, an amazing singer, such a pity she is no longer with us.
Where’s your favourite place for escape?
The Maldives or my shed, depending on the weather. The Maldives is too far away, my shed is much closer and full of classic cars, mostly in bits.
Do you prefer e-readers or real books?
About 50/50. I do love re-reading old books that you can’t get on an e-reader.
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
The Beatles. Check out Let It Be – a great West End show.
The Green Mile.
Windows or Mac OS?
Mac OS. In the 80s I used to be a UNIX fan. I then briefly flirted with Mac OS but hated the way it made all the decisions and removed choice for you, so converted to Windows. I came back to Mac OS when I got my first iPhone, and now love the way it makes all the decisions for you as I’m too busy to worry about the underlying technology.
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