Andy Gomarsall on sport and technology: Businesses need to embrace sustainability if they want to compete

Andy Gomarsall on sport and technology: Businesses need to embrace sustainability if they want to compete

Ahead of his appearance at the BusinessGreen Technology Festival, the former England rugby player and tech entrepreneur talks sales and sustainability

Andy Gomarsall MBE says the negotiation skills he learned on the rugby field have been crucial to his second career in the IT industry.

The former England scrum-half is now a director and shareholder of N2S, a Bury St Edmonds-based IT asset lifecycle management outfit with 55 staff.

Gomarsall will be appearing as a special guest at the BusinessGreen Technology Festival to discuss exciting developments in the world of green IT and eWaste, as well as the parallels between sport and business.

Having hung up his boots in 2010, Gomarsall took the qualities he used to cajole and inspire a pack of 18-stone forwards straight into his role at N2S, he told BusinessGreen's IT industry sister title CRN in a recent interview.

"Where I was positioned was very much in the middle. I was an organiser and a communicator," he said.

"What I learned is that sometimes it's difficult to ask someone to put their head where you wouldn't if they're much bigger than you. You learned the art of negotiation well. That ideal of trying to objectively finish with a win-win in all sorts of situations... that's where you use that skill set.

"The negotiation element of sport is so wonderfully paralleled in business."

N2S's mission is to maximise the value of end-of-life IT and telecoms assets. The firm, which was co-founded by Gomarsall's father, Jack, is currently working with Coventry University to develop bio-leaching technology to extract from printed circuit boards precious metals which are burnt today.

"I'm very fortunate that family is a major part of my life," said Gomarsall, who was part of Sir Clive Woodward's 2003 World Cup winning team.

"The reason I played rugby is because of my father. And the reason I'm in the IT industry now is because of my father. He's a big deal in my life."

Sustainability opportunity

Gomarsall also reflected on how sustainability is fast rising up the list of priorities IT buyers, signalling an opportunity for those tech businesses that can deliver impressive green credentials.

"When I first came into the industry, not many end users had anyone with a role to do with sustainability, and this is changing massively," he said. "I don't judge resellers on whether they are involved in this world or not, but my feeling is that if they're not [in it] in the next five to 10 years then they will not be competing".

A recent decision decision by IT distributor Arrow to exit the IT asset disposal space underlines the fact that the market in which N2S plays can be complex and difficult to understand, Gomarsall said.

"We've already seen a case of a [distributor] saying 'we don't want to play in this game anymore', so it is a challenging marketplace," he said.

"But it's a necessity, and it can also be a very profitable market. I'm pleased to say that some people in the industry - and it's normally the leadership - are very strong in supporting us and the other ITADs [IT asset disposal firms] and that we are a hugely respected part of the food chain."

Gomarsall will be joining a stellar line up of speakers and clean tech start ups at the inaugural BusinessGreen Technology Festival and fifth annual BusinessGreen Technology Awards next week.

You can still secure your tickets for both events and join around 200 executives from across the UK's green technology market in exploring how to accelerate the roll out of cutting edge clean technologies.

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