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Simon Ball

"Although not an SGS shining light, I have many great memories of my SGS days, my school friends and the teachers that put up with us."

I would never consider myself an SGS success story; I was an ‘also ran’ when it came to academic ability and a ‘never ran’ when it came to physical education.

I left SGS in '84 having stayed on to the sixth form to study Maths, Physics and Chemistry. All the subjects that I liked but clearly wasn’t great at, as I acquired a second ‘O’-level in 2 of them and an ‘E’ grade in Maths. Still, my ‘E’ in Maths was the minimum requirement to start an HND in Maths, Stats and Computing at Cheltenham.

Computing turned out to be the thing that interested me most. I found myself modelling solutions and ended up working for IBM on their Insurance Application Architecture (IAA). Effectively, a business model of data, behaviour and capabilities that modern insurance companies could use to develop new systems. I was assigned to a lab in Belgium and, on more than one occasion, I wished I’d worked harder in my SGS French lessons. Maybe if I had achieved more than my ‘U’ grade French ‘O’-level, 2 years in the French commune would have been easier.

I was never destined to be a corporate player and I started Systemize (UK) in 1998 to go contracting. I continued working in the IAA space for a few more years and had the pleasure, in 2002, to work with the largest P&C (Home and Car) insurer in the US building a Product modelling solution based on the IAA principles. 6 years, many airmiles and 3 additional kids later, my involvement in the project was complete.

In 2008, a business partner and I started a second company (Systemize IT) to deliver solutions for financial services companies. As part of this, we developed our own version of the product modelling solution working with a Dutch development team. The idea being that the business community describe their product in a diagram and that picture would drive the insurance policy production within a product-aware system. The solution first went live in 2012 and is still used by one South African insurer today. Sadly, the solution’s financial success mimics my SGS report card… ‘Could do better’.

It was always clear that my life travelling as an IT consultant would come to an end and, in 2008 my wife and I invested in a local horticultural nursery as a ‘family back-up’ when/if something went wrong.

Nowadays, there’s little interest in our Product Management software and my life is spent working on our 15 acre nursery with the other members of the Lucksbridge team.

Although not an SGS shining light, I have many great memories of my SGS days, my school friends and the teachers that put up with us.