Interview with Campbell McGarvie

Campbell McGarvie began his IT career at Burroughs in 1966, where he performed a number of roles in systems support, sales and marketing over 13 years.

 A move to General Automation in 1979 launched him into international management, focused on the UK and Scandinavia in the then flourishing market for minicomputers. It was a “baptism of fire” he says. “Staff in Sweden were on strike and the boss hadn’t been paid.”

 There followed a spell as managing director of Control Data’s UK subsidiary Control Dataset, a provider of computer tapes, disks and furniture. ”It was the closest the industry came to the consumer market,” he says. There he oversaw the UK’s last punch card factory.

 In the early 1980s, Campbell managed the UK branch of Storage Tech while the US company filed for bankruptcy protection— an experience he describes as “highly stimulating”. It was a time when the industry was moving away from hardware towards software and services.

 During a brief stint as president of BellSouth Europe, at the time going through a rash of ill-judged acquisitions, he witnessed the perils of IT market forecasts. Too often, research focuses on quicker, smarter ways to do things in the short term, resulting in frequent unnecessary upgrades, he says.

 Towards the end of the 1990s, Campbell became managing director of call centre software provider TeleConnect. “I still feel slightly guilty about being responsible for interactive voice response systems,” he says.

 Campbell acknowledges his debt to mentors, who helped him from the beginning. Now retired, he remains actively involved in mentoring young people and helping expand access to education in technology and IT skills.


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