Five minute interview: Rami Houbby, NCONNECT

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Five minute interview: Rami Houbby, NCONNECT

Tell us what you do for a living.
I am the Managing Director of NCONNECT, the UK branch of the German organisation NFON AG, the telecom operator.

Why are you the right person for this job?
Passion. I have a passion for our customers, a passion for the business, and, above all, a passion for making it a success.

Who helped you get to where you are today?
Personally, I would have to say my dad has been one of the biggest influences on my life. Professionally, Nick Ruczai has given me lots of good advice over the years.

What is the best or worst business advice you have received and from whom?
The worst advice I ever received was to underspend when starting up a business so as not to run out of money. This resulted in underfinancing, which ultimately led to the failure of the startup.

What advice would you give to someone starting out today in IT?
I think there’s a lack of focus on the customer in so many industries today, so my advice is to follow the customer! It’s important to have passion for both your customer and your business – the customer is always right after all.

What’s running on your smartphone?
Unfortunately nothing exciting, other than Minesweeper and Sudoku, and a few games my son has downloaded. Other than that, just the usual; Facebook, Twitter… and of course the NFON app!

What does the next five years hold for the channel?
Opportunities for companies to reinvent themselves and adopt cloud-based services, particularly voice. I think resellers need to get on board while they can. If they don’t reinvent themselves, they’re running a big risk and I believe they will eventually die out.

Tell us something most people do not know about you.
When I was studying I joined the college swimming team and went on to compete at a national level all over Quebec. I still try and swim at least once a week and go to the Mediterranean most summers just for the sea!

What goal do you have to achieve before you die, and why?
I really don’t know, that’s not something I’ve ever thought about… One thing I really have to do one day is sail the Atlantic, which would be incredible.

What is the best book you've ever read?
Anything by John Grisham. He’s a great writer who’s written countless books with a focus on crime and litigations. He writes very legal-orientated fiction, and all of his books that I’ve read have been hugely enjoyable.

What would be your Desert Island MP3s?
I would take Phil Collins, Celine Dion and… I’d probably take some Lady Gaga too.

What temptation can you not resist?
Food! I like to stay in shape of course, but everyone enjoys a nice meal.

What was your first car and how does it compare with what you drive now?
My first car was a Peugeot 504. They were very popular cars in their day. In fact, it is the most widely driven car in Africa today - eventually it became so popular, and was being manufactured in so many countries, that it just went global.

It’s miles apart from what I drive now, though my 504 was extremely basic. I have a Mercedes 4x4 now, but I don’t really like it anymore… I have a Toyota Verso that I use for running around in the week; it’s a nice reliable car, and I don’t mind if it gets the odd bump.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with? Why, what did they do?
Tony Blair, for ruining the economy.

If you could be any animal for a day, what would you be and why?
I would love to be some sort of sea creature, like a shark or a dolphin. I love swimming, so to be able to race through the water like that would be incredible.

If you could take part in one event at the Olympics, which would you choose and why?
That’s easy – swimming!

If you were facing awesome peril and impossible odds, which real or fictional person would you most want on your side and why?
I would have to pick my wife, for sure – if you’re facing something like that you’re going to need some good moral support.

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?
Of course the grizzly bear, with those massive paws it would take out the gorilla in one swipe - I know I wouldn’t want to face up against a grizzly bear!


This was first published in August 2014

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