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Darren Hardman on top of Mount Kilimanjaro

In his four-year tenure at Avanade, the Seattle-based tech consulting and services company, Darren Hardman has risen from Senior VP of Sales to Chief Operating Officer in North America. Managing operations at a large company like Avanade is a tall order, but the British transplant still finds time for other passions.

Hardman is an accomplished mountaineer and follows soccer (football in the King’s English) religiously. “I enjoy climbing mountains and watching any soccer possible,” he says. “I have an evolving affinity to American Football given I live in the football capital of the world!”

Before joining Avanade, Hardman spent more than 15 years working in a variety of roles at Accenture. He studied econometrics at the University of Nottingham and earned his MBA at the Imperial College in London.

Meet our new Geek of the Week, and continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.

What do you do, and why do you do it? “Avanade exists to help our clients realize results in a digital world through business technology solutions, cloud and managed services. In that endeavor, I am responsible for making sure all the cogs are spinning in the internal machine that is Avanade North America. The operational foundation of our business is how we ensure we deliver the best outcomes for our clients. It’s a complex, approximately billion dollar business in North America and fast growing. So it’s a lot of fun in a hugely talented environment.”

What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? “I have yet to see an accurate job description for a COO given the variety and relative unpredictability of the scope. Every day is a case of juggling. In my experience, the role of COO has to leverage a combination of practical experience, consulting, delivery, sales, client and account leadership; each component allows me to ensure those ‘cogs’ are all aligned.”

Where do you find your inspiration? “In our people. Avanade has some of the greatest minds in the industry, and I’m constantly inspired by their ideas and innovations. When you translate that into the scope of a client’s business issue – the outcome can be very powerful and inspiring.”

What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? “My Windows Phone (I am onto my 4th Windows Phone now!) It allows me to be mobile, agile and flexible. I am connected to all my internal systems, as well as my social networks!”

What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? “Simple, structured and sleek. I have a Surface and a docking station. I am able to plug in and go. My physical desk is clean and no clutter. I figure if my physical desk is clean, my virtual desk (apps, email, OneNote, etc.) is more likely to be clean as well. I like my picture of the London Tube map. This map created a global standard for underground maps. I like the way it brings simplicity to complexity. Order to chaos.”DH-desk

Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) “I keep a few things top-of-mind as it is easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day. First, make sure you ‘don’t get too busy making a living that you forget to make a life.’ And secondly, from a career perspective I like to stop and assess the direction I am heading regularly; ‘if the road is easy you’re going the wrong way’ is a mantra that keeps me on my toes and pushing for new challenges and experiences. Finally, you have to trust in others. Empowering others grows them, but gives you space to grow as well.”

Mac, Windows or Linux? “Windows, of course!”

Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? “Picard. Huge Patrick Stewart fan – was great to see such an accomplished Shakespearian actor take a role like this; very much a good example doing the unexpected.”

Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? “Time Machine. I always wanted to be Marty McFly.”

If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would: “I love the tools my kids use in their school based on OneNote and the collaboration, interaction and productivity this gives their teachers. So something in this space…with a little bit of emphasis on helping parents like me get their kids to do their homework.”

I once waited in line for: “Trick question: I don’t wait in lines, I queue! I use the internet for everything, so I think the longest queue I sit in these days is at airport immigration.”

Your role models: “Ed Viesturs. You have to love that he is a local and one of the most accomplished mountaineers in the world. He is the only American to have climbed all fourteen of the world’s eight-thousand meter-plus mountain peaks without supplemental oxygen. I admire him because in his career he set a number of long-term goals to create a truly unique life story.”

Greatest Game in History: “Soccer, or as I call it, football. Seattle soccer is impressive even in the context of world soccer. The fans turn out in huge numbers, in fact, if the Sounders were a club in Europe they’d be in the top 10 in attendance! Apologies to any Portland Timbers or Vancouver Whitecaps fans.”

Best Gadget Ever: “GPS/satellite navigation. I spent years driving around in circles.”

First Computer: “Commodore VIC-20. I used to have to push play on tape and wait hours for it to boot. Load in the morning, play in the afternoon.”

Current Phone: “Windows Phone Lumia 920.”

Favorite App: “MSN Sports. All my favorite teams consolidated into one view.”

Favorite Cause: “Cancer research and treatment. I have run marathons and climbed high mountains for this cause. I think everyone, directly or through family or friends, is touched by this at some point in their life.”

Most important technology of 2015: “Skype for Business. I use it every day to connect and collaborate. Can you remember life without such a collaboration and communication tool?”

Most important technology of 2017: “Azure (and other cloud platforms). Being cloud ready across every aspect of our business and personal lives is a very prevalent theme.”

Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: “Keep reinventing yourself. The world changes quickly, especially in technology. It can be hard, but you have to; as sometimes the path of least resistance leads to a path of great indifference.”

Website: avanade.com

Twitter: darrenxhardman

LinkedIn: Darren Hardman

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