Aidan Bowen (L. 1983-87) is Chairman of the Brighton College Family Society this year (and so it follows of course that he is a Brighton College parent). Having built up a hugely successful business himself, it is also fitting that he is also one of the judges of the Entrepreneurship Programme this year.
1. When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you 'grew-up'?
I attended Brighton College between 1983 and 1987. I followed in my father's footsteps (he attended in the mid 1950's) and joined Leconfield House.
From an early age I was fascinated with Lego, prompting me to become quite single minded and inquisitive for how things are designed and built. From as early as I can remember, I decided I wanted to be Architect. After accruing the required number of points to enter University, I was offered a place at Brighton Poly and achieved my degree in 1991.
2. What are you now you've grown up?
Not an Architect, oddly. The recession of the early 90's put that particular dream to rest.
Fortunately, I had developed a fanatical interest in computers from the age of 10, teaching myself how they worked and how to program them. This would prove to be exceptionally fortunate.
In 1992, I started my own IT sales and services business (solutions-inc.co.uk) with my best friend from Brighton College. We saw a gap in the market for a company that could help businesses navigate the fledgling PC revolution. The business was focused entirely on the supply of Apple based systems for design and Desk Top Publishing. Everyone thought we were mad to back a company that famously had 90 to stop from going bust. However, as luck would have it, we backed the right horse!
3. What is your best memory of school?
The environment and how it inspired me to want to make something of my life.
4. What was the best piece of advice you were given?
My paternal Grandfather taught me that 'you must learn to love what you have to do'. This, more than anything has helped me deal with the mundane, the difficult and the most stressful challenges of life and allowed me to truly appreciate the opportunities all of us in the UK have been given. It's up to each of us to make the best of it.
5. What do you do /did you do as a career?
My work is pretty challenging and technical. I primarily focus on the design and deployment of high end, wireless networks. I've deployed WiFi across entire cities and developed systems for video broadcast in stadia environments. The technology is moving at a breakneck pace and, with the current vogue for mobile computing, is set to grow hugely in the next decade or so.
The IT sector has diversified hugely in the past 20 years. We're getting on a bit as IT firms go. Two decades at the front is pretty rare but it's not without its challenges I can say. Now every man and his dog want to sell Apple and the challenge for us is to stay fresh and dynamic and stay ahead of the curve. Both of us are pretty good at recognising opportunities and now have the experience to know how to realise most of them.
6. What does your job involve?
As a business owner, pretty much everything.
I'm pretty hands on and have a bit of a perfectionist streak. Sometimes this can be a burden, but I think it imparts a real sense of what we're about primarily to our staff but also our customers.
I regularly meet with suppliers, consult for customers, plan our next retail outlet (we have six shops across true South), deliver training and install systems. I make a pretty mean cappuccino too!
7. What are the most challenging parts of your job?
1) Delegation. I'm not very good at it.
(Probably not what you want to hear from the Chair of the Brighton College Family Society!)
2) Education. Both in terms of ensuring I keep pace and up to speed with the latest technology and in how I impart this knowledge to staff and customers so they 'get it' too.
8. What have you done that you are most proud of
Three things in equal measure;
1) Co-run a business in partnership with the same guy for over 20 years. That's rare these days and takes trust and loyalty.
2) Married a fantastic lady with whom I've spent over half my life. That takes love and appreciation for another.
3) Become a father to two beautiful girls with whom I'm rediscovering the joy of life and what we are all capable of. It's probably the hardest thing I've ever done but certainly the most rewarding.
9. What is the single thing that would most improve the quality of your life?
Winning the Euro Millions!
10. What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?
Insulin (I'm a diabetic)
11. How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who made a positive difference to others.