The Right Digital Solutions Hot Seat
Getting to know Paul Felton
What’s your name and where do you come from?
My name is Paul Felton and I was born in Bow East London, so I am what you would call a Cockney. But I currently reside in South Shields in the North-East.
What's Your Favourite Book, Album, Sports Team?
My favourite book is one I read a while back called Four Kings, it depicts, in my opinion, the greatest era in Boxing. I’m a huge boxing fan and I was lucky enough to grow up in that era. It’s the story of Marvin Haggen, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard and my favourite, Tommy Hearns. It was electrifying. It brought back so many memories of growing up and watching the matches with my Dad. They were just terrific fighters, a complete breed apart. Very different to how they are now. I could read it again and again. I highly recommend it.
My favourite album is the first album I ever listened to and it was This is a Modern World by The Jam. I must have been 9 or 10 and it was brilliant. I love Paul Weller and it was like listening to a new breed of music.
My favourite team has to be West Ham. I describe it as a love hate relationship. They are fantastic when they are playing well but they do have their moments. You have to back them though when its where you’re from. I love them.
Bobby Moore is a hero of mine, he used to own a pub nearby where I grew up called the Black Bull and occasionally you used to see him in there every now again. He’s just a legend.
What's Your Favourite thing about your role?
My favourite thing about my role is the customers. Living up here, you become like a family and most of my customers are my friends.
Before covid I would often get invited a long for a drink after work with many of them. They know all about my life and I’ve got to know all about theirs. The people in the North East are very open and friendly and they show an interest.
It might sound cheesy but they are way way more than customers, they are my friends.
Who would you six dinner party guests be?
(dead or alive)
This is a weird old mix up this is…
First off – The Duke of Wellington, he is a hero of mine. He put England on the Map. He made us the superpower that we are. He changed Europe, he made Europe what it is now by winning the Battle of Waterloo. He doesn’t get the credit, but what he achieved and the courage he showed was defining. I would love to talk to him.
Next up, Richard Branson. He started off running Virgin Record label and now he is sending people in to out of space. What an incredible story. What I admire about him is that his mantra is – If you have happy staff the customers will naturally be happy. That his managerial style, he never complicates things.
Next one is Joe Frazier, the Boxer, the heavyweight champ. He fought at a time when it was hard, not just because he was a black man and there was segregation, but he was also competing against Mohammad Ali. He had to endure so much hardship to get where he was, he was a hero. I would love to have met him.
Next would be Billy Connolly, what a character. I would love to sit and ask him about his upbringing in Partick in Glasgow. He had such a tough upbringing, and I would like to understand where he gets his ideas from after starting out as a welder on the ships to becoming a comedian. He would bring a bit of humour to proceedings as well. He’s a legend.
Steve McQueen. He’s and icon, an underestimated icon but still and icon. I saw Bullet when I was a kid and it just stuck with me. He had a very difficult upbringing, his parents weren’t nice then he died in Mexico of cancer. He had quite a sad personal life but what a man.
Finally, last up would be my Grandad. He sadly died when I was 10 but I spent all my time with him. He was an old war hero and he used to tell me stories and I used to ask him loads of questions about the war. He was, in fact he is, my hero. I wasn’t there when he died because I was young but I would love just to have one moment with him, even if it was just an hour.
What would you eat?
Well, I’m not sure if you have heard of a little-known delicacy from the East End of London but it’s called Pie and Mash with liquor and they would have to eat it. You can’t beat it.
I’d certainly be happy, sat there with 6 of the best people, eating Pie and Mash.
What is the best advice (or motto) you have ever received?
I trained as a plasterer when I was younger and my supervisor was a guy called Alfie, he gave me this piece of advice when I was 19 and I have never forgotten it.
Treat your fellow man as you want to be treated son - and I have always lived by that.
My Motto is – Keep Going
Just keep going, don’t stand still, keep moving.
What is your proudest career moment to date?
My proudest career moment was when I was working for Panasonic, I was promoted to be supervisor of the Japanese Accounts.
It was hard. We had to cover the city of London, a few offices in the west end and then Canary Wharf. We were in cars then and we used to get a hell of a lot of parking tickets.
It was tough, I only dealt with Japanese people, and we had a one hour response time and it was waking hour, not working hour. We had to entertain the clients when they came over from Japan and we used to take it in turns as to who would take them out. But they were the finest engineers I have ever worked with. I was standing on the shoulders of giants. They were legendary technicians, these guys would actually make things on site so we wouldn’t get penalty charges if we had to go back the next morning.
I had to learn Japanese etiquette. So, for example, if someone handed you a business card you couldn’t put it in your pocket you had to place it on the table in front of you. Lots of little things like that I had to learn and observe. We were taught how to behave by our senior sales rep called Akiko, she was incredible, but because Japanese society is very patriarchal, we were never allowed to mention her by name.
They just had so much pride at Panasonic. The uniform was a navy suit , navy tie and white shirt .The guys in the workshop wore lab coats, it was brilliant! You felt you belonged.
Conversely what is your worst/ most embarrassing career moment to date?
That’s easy. I got on the tube at Canning Town and the carriage was quite full. Anyway, a girl who was very petite was sat down suddenly made a move to get off the train. As soon as she moved I slipped in to her seat, only she hadn’t actually got up and I ended up sitting on her lap. She had only craned her neck to look at the tube map.
The whole carriage rocked with laughter (which is unusual for the tube). Luckily I was able to jump off before the doors shut so I hung about and waited for the next train.
That was pretty embarrassing!
If you had a time machine what year would revisit and why?
It’s a bit of an odd choice but I think I would like to revisit 1940 just after the outbreak of World War 2.
Obviously, it was a very sad and scary time for the country but also I think the people were different then there was a great team spirit and unity across the country and everyone was doing what needed to be done to support the war effort. It was all hands-on deck and the country was galvanised.
Some of the stories my Nan used to tell me were fascinating. She waved off every man she ever loved to war, her father, uncles, brothers, my grandad and some never returned home. She would tell me about bombs and how complete streets were obliterated and being wiped out in the middle of the night. And she would tell me about the rationing, which lasted long after the war was over. Just fascinating stories.
I would really like to feel I played my part and supported my country. I definitely would have joined the armed forces and gone off to fight for the cause.
What would be your luxury item if you were cast away on a desert island?
I think it would have to be a solar powered iPod crammed full of tunes. I think listening to your favourite songs on a desert island would be a pretty nice way to spend your days.
What is the right digital solution for you?
It would have to be my iPad. You can do everything with an iPad. You can watch films, read a book, search the internet, play games…. The possibilities are endless.
Who do you nominate for the Hot Seat next month?
I am going to pick Josh Order, he is a great team player. I met him for the first time down in London and his enthusiasm was infectious, he’s a great guy.