Meet the people behind O2: David Cornwell
A series that looks at the people behind the technologies we support across Britain.
At O2 we employee thousands of talented individuals to support our diverse customer base. From front line staff working in store with the latest mobiles, accessories and consumer products, to technical specialists who can design your integrated mobile, Wifi and fixed networks, as well as identify the right managed services and digital solutions for your organisation. At O2 we believe that the solutions we provide are only as good as the people that help you make the most of them.
David Cornwell – Head of Solution Design at O2
What do you do at O2?
I lead the solution design team, with responsibility for designing ICT and Digital Solutions for our Enterprise customers. This involves listening to customers to understand the problems or challenges they want to solve, talking to them about their specific requirements, discussing what is possible and designing a solution that is fit for purpose.
As a team of industry experts we are also involved in influencing and advising on portfolio strategy, supporting the customer on an ongoing basis to help with new developments and change.
How did you end up doing what you do, and why O2?
I began my ICT career working in a similar field but with a much smaller company, starting in technical support and then moving into roles in consultancy then field services. An opportunity to work in presales for another company followed in 2008.
After a further three years, I realised I wanted to progress in my career, and it was around the same time O2 started to talk about a drive to shift ICT and networking towards mobile. It really appealed to me, as did the O2 brand, so I was delighted when the opportunity came to join O2 as a solutions architect seven years ago.
What gets you energised in the morning for the day ahead?
Lately, I have been starting my days back on the exercise trail to get myself into shape. It’s amazing how quickly it becomes a habit, although it doesn’t come naturally to me. I know that some of my colleagues are fanatical about their morning run or visit to the gym, but that just isn’t me. I love mountain biking, and am lucky to live in a part of rural Shropshire renowned for some amazing scenery and breath-taking cycle tracks.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
I loathe technology without a purpose. Too often I see products launched that, for me, are solutions looking for a problem. I’m not always right though.
What’s been your proudest achievement so far in your career?
Taking on my current role almost exactly a year ago.
What’s the one small thing in life that always makes you smile?
My children, obviously, although I expect that everyone who has children would say the same. I find that leaving the office for a while and getting outside in the sunshine always puts a big smile on my face. The sun and air help me to think more clearly, and I often make my work calls outside too.
How do you see your role evolving in the future?
Although I think that technology is getting simpler to use or operate, the impact of technology is becoming much more complex. Increasingly people need help to understand the impact of technology on their business and their people, and what disruption might look like in their own sector or marketplace.
How do you switch off and wind-down?
I find it increasingly difficult to do, I have to admit. Juggling between work and family commitments takes a lot of effort. My love for mountain biking is one way that I wind down – I take part in an event run in partnership with my children’s school that involves biking over The Long Mynd, a moorland plateau high up in the Shropshire Hills.
Now that the children are a little older, weekends often involve family walks in the hills too.
What does a healthy relationship with technology look like for you?
A healthy relationship with technology involves knowing when to turn off. I have no doubt that bright, colourful screens can become addictive so at home we have a ‘no phones at the dinner table’ rule, and I’ll try and put my phone away before sitting down to spend time with my wife.
Our children still seem too young for smartphones, although I recognise that every family sets their own guidelines. For us, the move to secondary school seems the right time for the children to get their first phone. But even then, it’s for texting and phoning only until they are older.
How long would you survive a full digital detox for?
I saw a Facebook meme recently that offered a sizeable cash reward for someone willing to live in a remote cabin in the woods for a month with absolutely no technology. My immediate thought was that this sounded like my ideal holiday, and one that I’d gladly pay good money for!
Being serious, though, I’d find it difficult but I’d be ok. I don’t think that I am addicted to technology, although clearly my job would be almost impossible to do without it. But if work could be accommodated, I think I’d survive a digital detox for quite a while.
What’s the one gig/show that changed your life?
It was Muse, playing at the V Festival in 2001. They were already a band that I knew and liked but their live set was just incredible and it was definitely the best gig I’ve been to.
What are you most excited about that the future will bring?
I’m really excited about the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and what widespread adoption of AI might bring. In particular I am looking forward to seeing the development of AI embedded Digital Assistants. I love devices that can play my music, or tell me when the next train is due, but what excites me is a device that can genuinely help me throughout my working day.