Managing Director - Who fan

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Sat Apr 18 12:41:37 UTC 2009

>From The Times Business Travel section:

Profile: SunGard's Keith Tilley
April 18, 2009
The MD of the disaster recovery company talks about being a Who groupie and hammer-wielding taxi drivers
by Jeremy Skidmore

Keith Tilley, the man who helps companies in a crisis, is a massive fan of rock group The Who and loves nothing more than travelling the length and breadth of the country to see them. 

“I’ve been following them since the days when they had Keith Moon as drummer; I’ve probably seen them 50 or 60 times and I’ve got quite a lot of memorabilia,” he said. “I paid £10,000 for a Gibson SG guitar which belonged to Pete Townshend and was auctioned for charity. When John Entwistle died I bought one of his guitars which was also being auctioned off – a Gibson Firebrand for which I paid £3,500. 

“Once I went to see The Who in Stafford and I was coming back from the gig and stopped at a petrol station at 1pm. There I bumped into Pete Townshend. I was so dumbstruck I didn’t know what to say, but I got him to sign a five pound note, which was all I had with me.” 

Tilley, 52, is the UK and European managing director of SunGard Availability Services, the global disaster recovery firm that helps companies continue operating following fire, flood, terrorism and computer failures. Tilley’s firm has a turnover of around £250 million a year and, based in Bracknell, he has a staff of around 600 people in the UK. As well as going on the road to see The Who, Tilley travels to visit staff and companies around the UK, Europe and the rest of the world and often visits the company’s headquarters in Pennsylvania. 

How do you travel around the UK? 

Well, whether it’s to see The Who or on business, I prefer to use my car, which is a BMW 7 series. I used to drive a Range Rover but it kept breaking down. However, I was not impressed with the BMW during the snow storm we had in the winter and I think I’ll be going back to a 4X4. I live in the country and need a bit of traction. I don’t like the trains because when I travel from my local station of Basingstoke I can never get a seat. One of our main sales offices is in Waterloo so the train would be convenient, but I’d rather not use it. 

Doesn’t the traffic drive you mad? 

I like my own space. I remember once I was driving up Horseguards Parade on an autumn evening in my Range Rover and I felt something hit the back of the car. Then I saw a cyclist staggering to get up. I got out to see if he was all right and he said he just didn’t see me – he rode into the back of me. Should he be on the street if he can’t see something as big as a Range Rover? We’ve got offices in Livingston and Dundee, so if I’m going that far I’ll fly from Heathrow or Southampton, preferably Southampton as it’s a lot quieter and more accessible. 

Which airline do you choose? 

I’m a British Airways man wherever possible and use them on any flights – internal, short haul and long haul. In my opinion they have the best service and if you stick with an airline you then start getting the various perks, such as mileage points. I’ve tried others, such as Air France, but I wasn’t impressed. They didn’t seem to offer the same level of service. 
Do you stay over in hotels? 

I do and I think UK hotels particularly are improving. If I’m going to a meeting, I might just stay in a lodge-type hotel. As long as they are clean, are easy to reach and have good internet access, then I’m happy. If I’m staying anywhere for a few days I’ll look for somewhere which has a gym and a swimming pool. 

If we’re entertaining customers, we’ll stay over at a hotel in Chelsea Harbour. Often you can spot footballers there who are staying over if they are playing away at Fulham or Chelsea. 

Any funny tales about footballers? 

They were all pretty well behaved because it was before a game. Once I was waiting in a bar and behind me I kept hearing someone swearing. It went on for a while and I thought I’d have to say something. I turned round and there was Vinnie Jones with some people. I have to stress, I don’t know whether it was him swearing but I didn’t want to intervene! The funny thing was, everyone around him was drinking lager and he was drinking wine. 
Another time, Ian Wright was in there with his son Sean Wright-Phillips. I was wearing a crombie and Ian Wright came up to me and asked me where it was from. Of course I took the opportunity to introduce Ian to my colleagues, who were suitably impressed. 

How do you pass the time on long flights? 

I’ll work for a while and watch a movie. Recently I saw Mamma Mia and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I’ll also listen to some music on my iPod. I’ve got 15,000 songs on there, everything from 1960s stuff to Frank Sinatra, opera, The Arctic Monkeys, The Kaiser Chiefs and a bit of rap. But the best drum and bass band is obviously The Who! The only music you won’t find on my iPod is country and western. 

I don’t drink on the way over, but on the way back I might have one drink with my meal to help me sleep. 

Any hairy moments on flights? 

I’ve been pretty lucky, but I was on the tarmac at Heathrow on September 11, 2001, waiting to go to Chicago. We weren’t allowed to take off but we could use our mobiles and gradually we started getting messages and realising what was going on. BA were very good and gave us drinks before we eventually got off. 

On another occasion I was taking a flight from the US and the woman next to me started talking to me. She said she got nervous on flights and I said it was fine, she could chat if she wanted. She then said she had only been on one flight before and on that trip the person sitting next to her died! She also said the flight was so busy they had to leave him there until they landed. At that point I put on my eye shades and said I needed to get to sleep. 

Do you pack light or heavy? 

When I’m on business, it’s as light as possible, but on holiday with a wife and two children I go as heavy as the airline will allow! I tend to get to the airport early and relax; I don’t like the stress of arriving late. When we went skiing, I found a company that collects your luggage from your house and literally sends it like a parcel to your hotel, so it is waiting there when you get there. It is fantastic to just travel with hand luggage on a ski holiday. 
What about adventures abroad? 

Once I went to France and got a taxi into Paris. The traffic was pretty slow moving and suddenly someone cut in front of our taxi. The driver took particular umbrage to this, drove alongside him, wound down the window and started hitting his car with a hammer! The other driver was desperately trying to get out of the way but couldn’t because of the traffic. I’ve never seen anything like it and I don’t think you’d see a black cabbie in London behaving like that. 
Where’s the best place you’ve been to? 

I went with my wife to Kiruna in northern Sweden. It was the only place where I’ve taken a dog sleigh from the airport to the hotel. We stayed a night in the ice hotel, which was enough. It was pretty cold and not the place for a romantic getaway. 

I also went on business to South Africa and then returned with my wife because it was so nice. We went to a place where you could literally pat the local animals and we were introduced to some tiger cubs, which were six or seven months old. Suddenly, my mobile phone went off, I turned my back to take the call and one of the cubs jumped on me. The weight of the cub was amazing, but thankfully he was only playing and no damage was done. Otherwise it would have been an industrial accident as it was a work call. So my tip for travellers would be to never turn your back on a tiger cub! 

 -Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month! 


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