Why Northern Irish businesses should compete on a world stage
In the High Flyers spotlight this week is Andy Hill, managing director of Dokoo Digital and partner of lockdown success business, HillView Prints. He and his wife Nicole started HillView Prints after struggling to find a present for a friend, and now the Bangor couple sells prints of cityscapes of more than 150 locations to customers around the world.
What was your first job?
My first adult job was working in a customer service role at a cinema. This meant I was doing everything from serving customers and cleaning theatres to watching movies. It was good most of the time, but when the sun was shining outside, I hated going inside to work all evening in the dark. I also worked in bars at university and I attribute a lot of my people skills down to those jobs.
What qualifications do you have?
I studied business with marketing at university in Newcastle upon Tyne and I was on the board of the Chartered Institute of Marketing for years. I also have various other digital marketing certifications from Google, Facebook and LinkedIn.
What do you attribute your success to?
I think success is about finding something you enjoy and putting a lot of effort into it to see if it works. It becomes about trial and error. Sometimes the thing you enjoy won't work but sometimes it will.
How would you describe yourself to someone who'd never met you?
Friendly, fun, hardworking and curious.
Who do you look up to in business?
I love people who try to challenge the norm - like Carmine Gallo, who helps the biggest brands in the world tell stories. He helped craft Apple's story over the last 15 years. I read a lot of books by impressive people and this is who I take inspiration from. Authors like Bob Iger, chairman of the Walt Disney Company. He published a great book called Ride of a Lifetime. I like to learn about best practice from big companies rather than just one person.
How do you get the best out of the people who work for you?
Communication is the most important thing for me, and I find having a level of transparency with your team works really well in all walks of business. It's about understanding why everyone's role is important in the organisation and making them aware of their value.
If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?
Too many businesses in Northern Ireland think small and they don't believe that they can compete on a world stage. In reality, it's actually quite the opposite and I think as a country, we punch well above our weight in terms of success and in business.
What website or app could you not do without?
I love stocks, shares and crypto currency apps. My favourites are Freetrade, Blockfolio and then I check Facebook, Shopify and Etsy every 10 minutes to look at sales for HillView Prints.
What was the last book you read?
I just finished a book called The Innovation Stack by the founder of Square, Jim McKelvey. I like to listen to business books on Audible when I'm walking and when I want to unwind, I will read a physical book.
What car do you drive?
I drive a Vovlo XC60, which is a good family car and fits all the kids. I used to have a Porsche but that was before kids
Tell us something interesting about yourself.
I have written two books which are for sale on Amazon, one of which was a best seller. They aren't about marketing or business and only a handful of people know what they are on..
What's your greatest passion outside of work and family?
I love sport and getting outside in the fresh air. I am a football fan and play a lot of golf at Carnalea Golf Club.