Fleur Parker, Group Applications Director
Career for far...
I started out doing a variety of roles, including cabin crew at British Airways. It was a great way to see countries and I always said I would do it for 2 years before settling into a career (and did that to the day). Travelling with BA was amazing and I had the pleasure of seeing some amazing places, staying in 5* hotels and topped it off with a flight to New York on Concorde with family.
Deciding it was time to embark on a career, an advert with Menzies IT came up, that I will never forget, ‘Do you have Accounts experience, are you interested in IT’... and that was it, my perfect job! (I had worked in Accounts, studied A Level Accounting and AAT whilst travelling with BA).
My first day was tough. I was thrown on support, expected to answer the customers issues on primarily Sage 100/Sovereign (that’s how long ago it was) and Sage 50/Sterling. I struggled, but enjoyed it and soon I had found my flare.
I progressed quickly to doing pre-sales demonstrations and going out selling Line 100 to customers and just really enjoyed working with the products. It wasn’t long though, after moving to a different IT company, that I went back to the technical side and implemented Sage, Pegasus, Dynamics NAV and Access over a number of years to a wide range of customers and industries.
It was while I was working at Accounting Answers where I led the Sage team, that TSG acquired the business - and this brought with it new challenges and opportunities.
As a regional business I was Customer Service Director at TSG looking after all products in the region for delivery and support. Then under a new structure for the group I ran Sage for all regions as head of Sage Delivery.
In 2013 my role evolved further and I added support for our applications products, and shortly after developed my role even further by taking on the management of the Verticals team - the home of developing our own IP - which is critical to our strategy.
Lucky enough to be responsible for an awesome team that are customer and solution focused and a delight to work with.
What would you recommend as the most fundamental part of technology in a business?
Always looking forward, today and tomorrow are the past, you have to be at the front and to do that thinking a long way in advance (although not forgetting the day job). It can be tough as its predictions but you need to rely on the experts in various fields that are passionate about our solutions and where we are going, especially in our own IP. Also comes down to those people, you could have the best solutions to offer but without the quality of people to deliver and promote, the solutions are not relevant.
If you could be anyone else for a week, who would you be and why?
Mel Marshall – ex Olympian and Lead Coach at Loughborough Swimming and of course coach to Adam Peaty. I'd love to see the intel on what the elite athletes are doing, the theory behind it and just overall day to day what goes on. Our performance has improved significantly in recent years, what has led to that, what are we doing to stay ahead and drive improvements for future years and what’s our end goal and what does success look like.
What will next year’s most overhyped industry buzzword be?
It's still all about the Cloud and a bit like all the hype around the Web and the Millennium bug, the buzz is around a long time and people talk about it but that doesn’t mean to say they get it! So the uptake can be slow with people talking a lot but with little movement in business development. As the knowledge is gained, we should start to see more traction and with 365 it feels like it has had a steady start but I expect it to really ‘explode’ on to the scene! Key for me will be driving our IP to be in the game.
Has 2017 been a good, bad or ugly year? (slightly more than one word answer please!)
It’s been a good year – personally I’ve achieved a few British and European records in the pool (I'm an avid swimmer), something that was a glimmer of hope. In Business it’s been a busy and challenging year – we have seen more progress with our key home grown products and I’m really proud of the team for their efforts and determination. We have also delivered some outstanding solutions for our customers and it’s great to see the teams really take on the new technology and literally run with it! Our SharePoint team have really excelled here.
What keeps you awake at night?
Generally I’m exhausted by the end of a busy day and a few laps in the pool of course! However, the brain doesn’t always want to shut down. It would be the things you don’t know about and trying to predict what they are and of course once the mind starts, it’s difficult to stop!
What piece of technology could you not be without?
Broadband and after moving house you realise how much we all (and specifically your teenagers!) rely on it. Worrying really that we go into a slump the minute it doesn’t work. I'm intrigued as to how much will it evolve in the future, it's already deemed a utility to many like gas, electric etc.
Have any of your predictions come true this year?
I had thought we would be further forward with D365 than we are and I predicted a slow uptake to start but we are still in the early stages and not as far as we thought. I had predicted some product success with our own IP and I think we have achieved that from a development perspective.
What is the best partner/customer trip you have ever been on?
Many years ago we were part of the beta programme for the launch of when Sage MMS went to SQL.
I worked solidly on the implementation and as a 'thank you' Sage hosted a weekend in Newcastle - we went to the Sage Gateshead to see an amazing concert, did a spot of ice skating by the river, and had a delicious dinner at the top of the Baltic Flour Mill. It was just an awesome weekend. It was simple, not too far but actually a really well hosted event with lots of fun and great relationships built.
What do you see as the channel’s biggest challenge in 2018?
Ensuring teams are more than aligned. In TSG we do the full story – traditional applications and technical. The lines are becoming blurred and more and more focus is required to ensure we are one as we deliver operationally.
I think for smaller organisations that focus on only applications or technical, that is a real concern – how can they align when they only have responsibility for one element? The two solutions require more alignment now than ever – much easier in one organisation than dealing with many, but still a challenge.