This week MicroScope chats to Phil Marshman, CEO, VQ Communications, a one time Superman and Simpsons Tapped Out addict
Tell us what you do for a living.
CEO at VQ Communications – we produce service delivery tools to help businesses get the most out of their video conferencing solutions.
Why are you the right person for this job?
I’ve always been attracted to working with start-ups: there’s a certain buzz you get from building successful businesses with game changing products. I’ve worked with a number of start ups and run a few of my own businesses over the years.
What gets you up in the morning?
I usually have a business call with a lead or a client in Asia, so that gets me up pretty early most days. But there’s no better alarm clock than my dogs – I’ve got a Labrador called Buster and a Springer called Tess.
Who helped you get to where you are today?
I’ve had many influencers in my life, but probably one of the key ones is author and motivational speaker Tony Robbins. He’s taught me to make little bits of progress in both my business and personal life every day, which is something I try to stick to.
What is the best or worst business advice you have received and from whom?
When I was part-owner of a property development company an advisor once told me that the high end of the market would never get affected by a recession... I think it’s quite clear which category that falls into.
What advice would you give to someone starting out today in IT?
Look for a niche in the market that you can fill solving a problem that many people have, and model on other successful businesses. This may seem obvious, but it’s amazing how many people don’t do their homework before starting a business.
What’s running on your smartphone?
Lync and LinkedIn for work; Spotify, The Simpsons - Tapped Out for play. The latter is a little bit too addictive for a game that’s really aimed at children...
What does the next five years hold for the channel?
In video, our area of specialism, I expect some significant changes to the market with new entrants coming in through unified communications and consolidation of the managed service sector. We’re starting to see this already with companies that wanted to get into the video market – both vendors and MSPs – bringing on board the right expertise through acquisitions. Look at Dimension Data’s acquisition of mvision a couple of years ago, for example. That was strategically calculated to catapult them into the managed service video market.
Tell us something most people do not know about you.
I once skied off the edge of a small cliff wearing a Superman outfit and Union Jack shorts. At the time I was in the Marines, and we were all dressed as the Man of Steel for a bit of fun. We were on our way up the ski-lifts and when I came off I noticed there was a steep drop off to one side. I wanted to put myself between the drop and the rest of the group to direct them the other way but misjudged it and went clean off. I started cartwheeling down the slope past onlookers and locals. Embarrassment and injury aside, skiing with a cape on is fantastic fun, by the way.
What goal do you have to achieve before you die, and why?
Besides having kids, which I’ve already achieved, I’d say it has to be to write a book. A long time ago my Uncle once told me three things I should do before I die and writing a book was one of them.
What is the best book you've ever read?
My favourite type of book is comedy, so if we’re judging it on how much a book has made me laugh, it’d have to be Tom Sharpe’s “Wilt”. Someone actually came over to me on the train once to ask if I was ok as I was laughing so hard!
And the worst film you’ve ever seen?
Meet the Spartans: I absolutely loved 300 and this film tried its best to ruin the memory of it. Appalling stuff.
What would be your Desert Island MP3s?
1. Adele – 21
2. Iron Man 2 soundtrack (which is basically a greatest hits collection of AC/DC)
3. Swedish House Mafia – Until Now
4. Chumbawamba - Tubthumping (always good to stick on at the end of a hard day!)
What temptation can you not resist?
Pizzas and Greggs sausage rolls, which risks seriously undermining my attempts to stay in shape.
What was your first car and how does it compare with what you drive now?
I had a 3.5 litre Triumph Stag. Although it has its enthusiasts, it doesn’t compare to what I drive now and I hated it: the roof leaked and it was totally unreliable. On my very first drive it broke down six times and at one point actually caught fire!
Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with? Why, what did they do?
Freddy Krueger – the guy’s a nutter and the enclosed space wouldn’t be ideal.
If you could be any animal for a day, what would you be and why?
I’d be the Loch Ness Monster – I’d put all the rumours to bed and sell my story for millions to Hello! magazine.
If you could take part in one event at the Olympics, which would you choose and why?
Beach volleyball looks fun... though I’d have to stay out of Greggs for a while beforehand.
If you were facing awesome peril and impossible odds, which real or fictional person would you most want on your side and why?
Iron Man. I’m a big fan and was counting down the days until the latest film was released.
Why? I’d like to say he’s an inspiration to all budding entrepreneurs out there, but it’s mostly because his new range of kit includes spare flying suits, which he could lend to me. And because he’s simply awesome!
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?
The bear every time. It’s twice the size, plus like every good gambler I’ve done my research and the silverback is a vegetarian. So while the gorilla is menacing, the bear is a natural born killer. It can kill a moose with a single swing of its paw (or so I’ve heard!).
This was first published in July 2013