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60 seconds with… James Abrahart, CEO, Altodigital

What’s currently having the greatest impact on your business?

At the moment I would say there are three things. Firstly, manufacturers due to their growing influence in the market as a result of acquisitions and consolidation. Then it has to be the uncertainty surrounding the economy in regard to Brexit, and finally, GDPR which has slowed down some of the larger tenders we are used to getting.

Where do you see the next big opportunity?

The next big opportunities for Altodigital will be from managed services, unified comms, the SME sector and infrastructure services. We plan to get the most from these opportunities by increasing investment into training our sales support, customer care teams and service technicians, as well as looking at new acquisitions.

What would make your day job easier?

Working more closely with manufacturers. I feel it would be in both our interests to work more closely and be more transparent about emerging technologies. It would be great to develop more of a relationship and ultimately more trust. I hope Altodigital’s recent appointment of Mark Ash as Chief Sales and Marketing Officer can help in this area.

What’s the best bit of business advice you’ve been given?

I’ve actually got two pieces of advice I always refer back to. Firstly, know your numbers. Secondly, be empathetic. Empathy helps me better understand the needs and problems of our customers, but it also extends to my colleagues – you never know what someone else is going through.

If you had had a crystal ball, would you have done anything differently?

I was an absentee owner in the US for twenty years, only coming back almost two years ago. I hadn’t anticipated just how much the market had changed in that time, particularly in the last four years. So, if I’d had a crystal ball I would have come back sooner and read more about market trends during that time.

Describe your most embarrassing moment.

One that sticks in my mind is going to a meeting and noticing a really terrible smell. I spent the whole meeting trying to figure out where it was coming from only to be informed afterwards that it was me… It turned out my baby had thrown up down the back of my suit that morning without me realising.

What was your first job?

I was a service engineer at Ofrex who at the time provided supplies, such as copiers and duplicators, to schools and businesses.

What would be your dream job?

A professional footballer. Although, I’ve got a bit of a bad back nowadays so I don’t think Gareth Southgate will be calling soon.

Fine dining and good wine, or curry and a pint?

Definitely curry and a pint of real ale – preferably London Pride.

How do you like to spend your spare time?

Either playing football or spending time with my family.

Favourite holiday destination?

It has to be St. Tropez in the South of France or Verona in Italy. As a family, we loved both destinations.

Money’s not an issue, what’s your perfect car ….and where would you like to drive it?

A McLaren would be nice – I’d take it round the South of France and Switzerland.