Started working with NEXTGEN: August 2017
Current role: Business Manager, Micro Focus & HPE
This is a tale of two tempting career paths pointing in different directions. One was smooth and well sign posted; the other clouded in mist. John Pritchard had amassed an impressive CV with skills and experience backed by achievements in sales, alliance/channel partner business development, management consulting, project management, and product delivery.
Fate then handed him two offers at the same time – one with a large US vendor; the other with NEXTGEN. Suddenly he was faced with an intriguing career decision and a tough call to decide which fork in the road to follow.
John recalls: "The crucial difference was the openness and make-it-happen nature of NEXTGEN’s attitude. What I found especially striking was NEXTGEN’s decisiveness, and in particular the availability and approachability displayed by Group CEO John Walters.
"NEXTGEN responded with complete details about their offer and it was just obvious that this was an organisation that could act quickly and decisively. Whereas it was painful with the other opportunity because I kept hearing how the details of the offer were still being worked through and how "we expect to get back to you real soon….." I chose the right path and I haven’t looked back."
Q. With your diverse and solid track record what motivated you to take what many might consider an "unusual" next step?
The Channel role was interesting in itself and it was with an organisation smaller than I had previously worked. What was clearly apparent was that NEXTGEN had a new and different distribution business model. It had a dynamic focus on a business inspired by the exciting vision which John Walters had painted for the next few years.
Q. What do you find most engaging about the work?
The business I am managing here is challenging, but fulfilling. It is also dynamic. To underscore this is to take the classic example of how NEXTGEN signed a master distribution agreement in May 2017 with Micro Focus, the largest software company in the UK, and somewhere around 37th globally. In August we separately signed similar distribution agreements with HP software. Then on 1 September – and we knew this was coming – Micro Focus completed the acquisition of HP software and dramatically moved Micro Focus to 7th in the global software stakes.
Q. What were the immediate impacts of this dramatic development?
Two months later three of us from NEXTGEN were invited to the Micro Focus Global sales kick-off to mark the start of their financial year. Talk about being in the box seat – we hosted an event of the eve of the conference and we were able to introduce either side of the new enlarged Micro Focus to each other. I believe that was a significant and reassuring start to the important relationship we have established.
Q. What do you say to those who say Distribution is the boring side of the business?
That was never a perspective I shared. Admittedly I didn’t have a lot of exposure to that side of a business. But the vision which John Walters painted appealed to me, especially because the dynamic nature of the service offerings we have at NEXTGEN makes us fairly unique in the market.
Since joining NEXTGEN every working day is different. There is such variety, from the stakeholder management on the vendor’s side through to the management of different partners. Then there is the running of events and campaigns on behalf of the vendor. Boring? I haven’t found that to be true at all and that is reinforced by the feedback we receive from the vendors.
Q. Tell me more about that feedback?
They recognise and appreciate the service offering we have in terms of a digital agency capability, a finance offering, and the fact that they can see for themselves how we are always looking for ways to add value. That excites us and excites them.
Q. You earlier mentioned the "entrepreneurial spirit" within NEXTGEN – how does that manifest itself?
It begins with John when he empowers you to own and run your operation as if it was almost your own business. You have a lot of autonomy but also a lot of support when you need that. There is a strong level of trust and you are surrounded by highly capable colleagues, many of whom have been with NEXTGEN for a long time and they are still clearly passionate about the business.
Q. Looking ahead are there trends you see that excite or maybe even alarm you?
Some clients are talking about how the reality of the cloud and SaaS is going full circle. One in particular sees a value add in their consulting stream is helping clients bring it back in house when they find the promise falls short and the cost continues to go up. So I wonder how much that becomes a next era for SaaS. At the same time NEXTGEN is comfortable with such an outcome because we straddle that trend covering SaaS and perpetual licence. The fact we specialise in software financing with Orbus Capital and our comfort level in doing so is high, it means we can give a client extreme flexibility about how they might pay for it.
Q. Who do you find most inspiring, from a career or personal perspective, and why?
As a teenager I remember reading Dale Carnegie’s ground breaking book: "How to Win Friends and Influence People". I have subsequently re-read it, or sections of it, over the years since. It is a classic business & self-help text, on how to win people to your way of thinking, how to influence people, and how to make friends. It’s important value is how it helps focus you on the other person, what’s important to them, and on how to be a good communicator.
Q. Favourite / least favourite piece of technology you use?
Just as technology changes so does my sense of favouritism change. My current favourite is my Tesla Powerwall 2 storage battery for the solar panels I have on my roof at home. I’ve got a really cool app on my phone to tell me how much power is coming from solar, from the battery or from the grid. It is well done - so simple and in real time.
As a regular user, I remain frustrated by my least favourite……the number of passwords I still have to remember! Mercifully, "forgot my password" is available on most applications and websites!
Q. From your area of responsibility, how might an elevator pitch for NEXTGEN sound?
NEXTGEN is an aggregator that delivers a common look and feel across all the vendors and services we offer to enable an organisation to handle their technology needs in a more consistent, accessible, seamless and cheaper manner.