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I am now over 60. Alright, let’s be honest I’m 64, but I’m not a lazy 64 or a typical 64. I have finally put my squash racquet into the attic, but dog walks averaging 3-4 miles per day often up and down hills keep me fairly fit. More importantly, I’m not stuck in my ways in either my business or leisure activities. I still regularly go to see unknown rock bands in small venues where the audience’s average age is increased by my presence. More importantly, perhaps, in business, I have never felt the need to stand still, embracing change and thinking about the need to change all the time.
So, how do I run MRDC Software as CEO of the company? Well, differently from a few years ago frankly. I suddenly realised about five years ago that some clients were thinking “what does this old man know about modern business?” or “how can I communicate with him when he probably hasn’t heard of Snapchat (he has, actually)?” I found that staff who worked for me are much better at working with colleagues and clients of their own age. Why should I be different? I thought the same about people in their 60s when I was in my 20s and 30s.
I realised that the biggest thing I could offer customers, potential customers and staff was my knowledge. The result is that I sit at my desk all day doing absolutely nothing until someone asks me for help. Well, that’s not quite true, but I see my job as being available to anyone, giving advice, looking for better ways of doing things and making sure that money is well spent – whether that’s staff salaries or clients’ payments to MRDC.
Do I get my hands dirty doing some of the nitty gritty work of software development, data management, data processing or software support? Well, yes, I do because I love doing this sort of stuff. But, what I make sure that I do is to stop when someone else can do it just as well as – or, indeed, better than, me. Or, if it starts to distract me too much from what I am supposed to be doing, which, in truth, is to make sure everyone else gives our clients the best service. My role is to empower the dedicated team of people that work for MRDC Software, teach them as much as I can and, of course, share as much knowledge as any of our clients or potential clients want. Sometimes, this means giving my time for nothing to people who just want advice, but that’s fine by me. This industry has given me a lot for many years, so giving something back really is not a problem – at least within reason.
My aim for MRDC Software is to keep building knowledge within the company and within our customers. I don’t know everything and I’m not pretending to do so as the research and IT worlds in which I work are vast and no one knows everything, but I am here to help. Just ask. On a website, you will find ‘You Ask, We Answer’. Anything posted there usually comes to my attention. Just ask. And, if you think I am getting too old, I will still give you a decent game of squash!