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06 October 2023

Oliver Ledgard, government and public sector lead, EMEA, Zebra Technologies

Oliver Ledgard, government and public sector lead, EMEA, Zebra Technologies

Who was your hero when you were growing up?
As a Huddersfield Town fan growing up in the south of England, achievements to shout about were few and far between, but when the home-grown talent of Andy Booth joined the side and helped Town achieve promotion into the Championship, I could talk about my allegiance with pride. Andy Booth is a living legend and hero.

What was your big career break?
My big career break was probably very early on when I was offered a placement year with a major technology company within their computing division as part of my university degree, and after university was offered a role with the firm. Being part of that team driving mobile digitisation with rugged devices taught me early around how to understand customer challenges, develop long term solutions and driving return on investment. They’re lessons I’ve used and built on throughout my career and shared with those who are entering the industry.

Speaking of which, my colleague Oliver Horrell was a recent recipient of the inaugural Ian Thompson Bursary Award at BAPCO in March. He’s earlier on in his career, and the bursary will provide him opportunities to grow his network and knowledge around public safety and critical communications in different countries. He is keen to share his observations about the current levels of engagement in the public safety environment and make suggestions as to how partnerships and collaborations could grow to drive the next generation of future-proofed, economically viable, and environmentally sustainable solutions. I think sometimes ‘big career breaks’ are the ones you help others to achieve.

If you had to work in a different industry, which would you choose?
It would likely be around sport. If I could hit a golf ball longer, straighter, and more consistently a professional golfer would be the dream. Yes, I like a lot of sport as you can tell. There are the usual good reasons why those dreams will stay just that – dreams, although I still enjoy a round of golf and a good kickabout.

More realistically, coaching my son’s football and rugby teams has been enjoyable, and reminds me how important that life-work balance is, especially if we’re travelled a lot for work, for example. I’m lucky to be in a role and with a company that makes that balance possible and encourages it in fact. I’ve other colleagues who also coach sports teams or engage in sport (mountaineering, martial arts, triathlons, ironman) to a high level – there must be something in the Zebra water!

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Growing up I was always into sport, so I aspired to be a professional sportsman, but never made the grade. I am still dreaming but based on my silver hair and aches and pains I think I’m grown up now. I keep active with various sporting endeavours too.

If you could dine with any famous person, past or present, who would you choose?
This is a tough one, but I think with his sense of humour and authenticity, Ricky Gervais would be top of the list for dinner. I am huge fan of his TV shows. I should probably be smart and say a celebrity chef too, so the food would be top class.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Open your ears and listen. Listening is essential for understanding customer needs, building relationships, problem-solving, decision-making and conflict resolution I see too often one way traffic on presenting vendor solutions without understanding the challenges the customer is going through. I like the saying “we’ve got two ears and one mouth for a reason.” Listening is really a defining feature of the partner looking to create a solution that starts with the customer’s pain point or modernisation goal.

What’s the greatest technological advancement in your lifetime?
The internet and world wide web would have to be my top two. It’s incredible how these have revolutionised global communication, information sharing and commerce. It has connected people worldwide, transformed industries and enabled the rapid exchange of knowledge and ideas. And lots of new industries businesses and jobs have been built off the back of the web and internet.

I think we live in an exciting time when the pace of change is rapid, and I wonder what’s coming next. It’ll be interested to see how AI shapes how we use the web and get new uses and insights from the mountains of data. I also wonder how the metaverse will take shape and grow, after the initial wave of attention from tech companies and the media.