No safety net for life on the wire


Graeme Gordon


Operations director at Internet For Business

What do you really do at present?

IFB is Scotland's largest independent internet service provider and I am responsible for driving the business forward, expanding into England and developing new IT solutions for clients. The role varies from day to day. This week I have been involved in four major tender responses, assisting one of our key clients with their long-term information and communication technology planning, working with the team internally on our product and staff development for this year and next, reworking our branding and public profile and at 6am this morning I was 20 feet above street level installing a wireless access point.


IFB is ten years old this year and I have been here with some other key staff from the start. It is exciting to be at the forefront of ICT and I enjoy helping clients use new technology to make their business simpler and more competitive.

First senior job?

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My current position is the most senior role I have held. I have had other senior jobs within larger organisations but if I get it wrong here it has a direct affect on the lives of people. I respect and have spent more time with my colleagues over the last ten years than I have with my family. There is no safety net here so in my mind it is as senior as it gets.

Do you work for love or money?

I have to say I am proud of what IFB has achieved. We are involved in an exciting, vibrant and challenging market and there is a buzz in the office - even on a bad day. However, unless you do not have to work, it is always about the money.

Was your first job for pocket money pennies or was it the first rung on the ladder?

I started off training as an electrical engineer in the energy industry in Aberdeen so it has little relation to where I am today. It was a job at that time and not a career.

Was yours a seamless progression or did fate lend a hand?

I realised that engineering was too much like hard work and swapped to technical sales then into media and communication sales then to IFB. Fate did intervene, I met my wife in 1992 and we married in 1995 around the time her father started IFB.

Best under pressure or well chilled?

I like to think I am chilled under pressure, but there is nothing like a deadline to sharpen the brain.

Creative or logical?

Becoming more logical with age.

What has been the single most important stage of your career?

Moving from sales manager at IFB to operations director. This happened at a time when we had just heavily invested in the company. Many other internet service providers were selling up or failing at the time. We decided that our strategy would be different. We have had to manage costs and take some risks but we are doing well and we are still here.

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What has been the essential element that has got you where you are today?

Having faith in my abilities and also those of the team I work with. I am always honest about my abilities - if you lie you will get found out by those who know better.

Any life-changing magic moments along the way?

Having kids is the biggest clich in the book but it does put everything else in to perspective. When you are truly responsible for shaping and caring for someone, you learn quickly that there is little or no time for messing around.

Any regrets?

I probably have a few if I look back in any detail. However, that's the benefit of hindsight.

What do you like least about your job?

The fact that regardless of how early I start or how late I finish there is always something to do. However, if this stops, that's when I will start worrying.

Minimum 12-hour day or out the door by five?

It varies depending on family and work demands. My wife, Sue, is great, and for a father of three I get away with murder when it comes to time-keeping. On average I work ten-hour days.

Desk/office essentials?

Space, pencil, paper, laptop and phone.

Team player or lone wolf?

It seems that a large part of my work involves working alone, but whenever an issue arises, the solution is always gained through a team effort.

Early bird or night owl?

Candle at both ends I am afraid.

Technogeek or technophobe?

I have a drawer full of old phones, PDAs, two PS2s, a PSP, a few TVs with internet access on them...

Crystal-ball gaze five years from now?

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IFB grows to enormous proportions due to a clever reverse buy-out of an international ISP and instead of being suspended above street level installing kit I am 50 feet above a beach in France... installing a piece of kit.

You've won the Lottery: what do you do career-wise?

Still work, no doubt it would be less but I would drive myself and everyone else mad if I didn't.

Your dream job?

This one.

Perfect recipe for winding down?

Opening the front door and being jumped on by three kids, work - what work?

Your best well-kept secret?

I watch and listen a lot more than people think.