Peter Abel, associate director of Corporate Partnerships at Junction says accept people’s cultures and learn to adapt
1. As a child what job did you want to have when you grew up?
I wanted to be a pilot in the RAF, but that plan was scuppered when at the age of eight I discovered I was colour blind. I was attracted to the idea because it seemed a fast, adrenaline-filled role. I still plan to learn to fly and get my private pilot’s licence one of these days. It’s not quite a Tornado jet, but the next best thing, I guess!
2. If you had one business lesson to share with your younger self what would it be?
Keep things simple. I think business people today often overcomplicate things. The easiest ways of doing things and the simplest ideas are often the ones that succeed. When ideas get overcomplicated, you lose people along the way. The message that you’re trying to deliver gets diluted and people lose interest or lose understanding. Nine times out of ten you can’t deliver alone. You need other people to support you or to invest in the project. If you can keep it simple, it just makes it much easier to get the message out.
3. Which Internet of Things (IoT) use case has recently fired your imagination?
Amazon Echo. It’s a great bit of kit. There are always very sophisticated devices and systems emerging in terms of the connected home, and then Amazon come out with a very simple device and it works. Some players in the market have over-engineered their platforms, and over-engineered the products around them, so the cost to consumers has gone up and up. The connected home is an interesting space, because when one organisation achieves massive adoption of its product, it’s going to trigger a step change in consumer behaviour – though I still haven’t figured out how you can get Alexa to load the washing machine!
4. What lessons have you learned from doing business in other countries or organisations?
However much it pushes back against what you want and what you understand, don’t fight back against the culture. I’ve worked in France, where people start work much later in the morning and take two-hour lunches. They still get things done, but in a very different way. Recently I’ve been out to South Africa, and the culture is very different. Colleagues there can be very blunt and forthright. I think you just have to accept people’s cultures and learn to adapt.
Peter Abel is associate director of Corporate Partnerships at Junction, a UK-based insurance outsourcing partnerships business, partnering with blue chip UK brands to offer home, motor and life insurance. Junction is part of the BGL Group. Peter currently manages Junction’s joint venture relationship with mobile telecoms operator o2.