Simon has been working in the IT industry for over 20 years and has a wealth of experience in both IT support and management. His skills and qualifications cover many aspects of IT, including but certainly not limited to Microsoft, Apple and Cisco. He has worked in both consultancy and support roles with a huge range of clients, including the Metropolitan Police, Emap, Thomas Cook and a whole host of small to medium businesses.
How did you become involved in the Smart Buildings industry?
I’ve worked in IT for many years and also have a strong interest in the built environment and climate change. Smart buildings are the natural place to explore those three topics together.
What excites you about the Smart Buildings industry?
I love looking at the intersection of people, place and technology – how people interact with the environment around them. The opportunity to give people a better living experience while making buildings more energy efficient is hugely exciting to me.
Are there any particular technologies that we should be aware of, but are currently under the radar?
I’m not sure it’s exactly under the radar, but I think full fibre running to and through our communities – especially if supplied by a community or co-operative project such as the Brighton Digital Exchange (BDX) – is going to change how we live our lives. We’re a member of the BDX and huge advocates for connecting technology, the public sector and private sector through good partnerships.
What services does your company offer?
We offer IT support and services, being where the company started. We also offer services to the events space – WiFi, payment systems and connectivity. Where we really specialise now is in offering technology services, consultancy, design and equipment supply to the construction industry.
We do pretty much anything technology related for buildings - supplying connectivity to site teams, designing full building converged networks, creating resident portals for WiFi and wired connectivity, monitoring and billing energy usage, CCTV, door access, door entry, the list goes on…
Are people aware of the regulations that they will need to comply with in the near future?
The construction industry has a mass of regulation, but people are generally well trained and diligent in my experience. I don’t think we’re due any major changes such as GDPR in the immediate future.
What are the benefits of a smart building?
We tend to work with large apartment blocks, so the benefits can come immediately in energy savings. Smart buildings give operational teams decision making information and allow for more granular and remote management of Building Management Systems. In short, it gives a better environment to live and work, saves money and is better for the planet.
Who has been the biggest influence in your career?
My son. When he was born it kicked me into starting my own business – something I’ve never looked back from and never regretted.
What is the question you are most often asked in your business life?
“What is it you do?” Followed by a slightly blank look when I answer – this is standard for IT though. The other standard question is “Do you make websites?” I don’t.
What are the best/worst things about your job?
I love the variety and change that running my own company in an interesting industry brings. I enjoy building a great team of brilliant people too, though hiring seems to be getting harder and harder. The worst thing about my job in recent time has been seeing the effects of austerity across the public and private sector. Money has really dried up for councils trying to do innovative things and I think that’s a shame.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
Work hard and get good at networking. Also, make sure you have good SEO or no one will ever find you.
What living person do you admire and why?
I admire lots of people within the business community, particularly some of the ladies who are making waves. Eleanor Harris who ran the British Airways I360 and now Royal Museums Greenwich has been a particular inspiration and great business sounding block. My biggest admiration is saved for my fiancée who is taking a break from working at a bank to care for our new baby daughter. She’s a brilliant mum and absolutely nailing it from a standing start.
Where would you most like to live?
I love living in Hove, but ultimately I’d like to end up somewhere warmer and sunnier with the sea still close by and a vineyard to run. That would make me very happy.
What is your favourite book?
I have lots! I still value Hunter Thompson’s Fear and Loathing, still love Alice in Wonderland, most of Jeff Noon, Michael Marshall Smith, Cixin Liu is amazing too.
How do you relax?
Apparently I don’t relax enough, but I do a lot of things I enjoy – sailing, target shooting, eating good food in good company and walking in beautiful green spaces are all good. Walking on the South Downs is where I go to make my soul better. I’ve only ever slept 4-5hrs a night, so I read a lot too.
What sports team do you support?
England if they’re playing and rugby for preference. I’m not a dedicated sports fan by any manner or means.
What is your desert island disk?
I think having one piece of music on an island would drive me crazy!
What is your ideal holiday?
Walking, swimming, sailing, fishing, snowboarding and eating well. Not necessarily all at once.