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60 seconds with…Chris Bates, Business Unit Manager – Print & Supplies, Tech Data

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

Home and hybrid working has driven a huge surge in demand. That’s been exacerbated by supply issues. We’ve worked closely with our vendors and done our very best to ensure that, as it becomes available, stock is evenly and fairly distributed and allocated. Engaging with partners closely, and planning as far ahead as we can remains vitally important to that effort. The more accurately we can predict demand the better. Placing orders early makes sense for partners too. I think we have managed our way through this period pretty well. Hopefully, we start to come out of it soon.

Where do you see the next big opportunity?

Managed print services are unquestionably an area of enormous potential, and we are excited about expanding our MPS offering in 2022. We’ll be looking to onboard partners and get detailed feedback from them on our plans. We are providing a simple, automated, cost-saving tool called Open MPS. It will enable them to offer a really great managed print proposition, especially for multi-site delivery and hybrid working. Sustainability and helping organisations to move towards net zero carbon will also be a big opportunity this year.

What would make your day job easier?

Being able to get more feedback from our partners on the different ways we can help them to address customer needs and overcome their own challenges would really help me. As a business, we are always listening to our customers and working to make a real difference to their businesses. With the changes that have taken place over the past two years, that’s become more important than ever.

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

That you have to continually earn your customers’ business. It was instilled in me early on in my career that we should never stop being grateful for every sale. That’s something I try to live by and instil in my own team as well.

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

A fortune-teller perhaps? Honestly, I don’t think I would. I have always tried to think how an action or decision would help the business – or me as an individual – achieve long-term goals.

Describe your most embarrassing moment.

I once went on stage to do karaoke with about six colleagues. I was at the front and did not know the words to the song. I was concentrating so hard on the karaoke machine that I did not notice each of them leaving the stage one by one until I was left up there alone.

What was your first job?

My first job was a paper round. My route was up hill and exhausting. However, when it came to Christmas the tips were very generous.

What would be your dream job?

I love my current job with Tech Data. I have an amazing team; every day presents challenges and lots of fun.

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

An excellent meal, great company and a good bottle of Rioja, every time.

Favourite holiday destination?

The most amazing city for me has been Rome, beautiful architecture, great food and lovely people.

How do you like to spend your spare time?

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I love to explore the English countryside, find random footpaths and see where they take me.

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

A VW Karmann Ghia. Driving that around Rome would do nicely.

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