Alec Fearon

I joined the Royal Navy at the age of 17 and became a Weapons & Electrical Engineer Officer. During my 26 years service the role evolved to focus on computer-based systems, eventually becoming that of the combat system engineer. My seagoing appointments were in frigates and an ocean going hydrographic survey ship. Ashore, my work was mainly with development projects: as trials officer for the Stingray torpedo (our first guided weapon to carry a programmable digital computer); as combat system engineer in the Type 23 Frigate design team (our first warship to use computer networking); and as the UK combat system manager in the multi-national project to build what eventually became the Type 45 Frigate. 

The end of the Cold War prompted me to take early retirement from the navy. I freelanced for 14 years as a systems engineer and project/programme manager in health, defence and local government. Alongside that, I started up a small, innovative company focused on the Internet. We were the first internet service provider in Plymouth (at one time 35 telephone lines converged into a spare room at home). We built on that to provide email services to a Devon-wide network of doctors and to create the South Hams Internet and Email Service. After moving to the Tamar Science Park we developed e-commerce services for customers locally such as a yacht broker and nationally such as The Stationery Office. Also we partnered with Plymouth Chamber of Commerce to experiment with an online clearing house for local opportunities and enterprise.

More recently I worked for 8 years as an ICT project manager in local government. This was a time of great innovation within the public sector as we moved services online and sought to enable the teams in different agencies to provide a joined-up service. Alongside that I became an external supervisor for MSc students at the University of Warwick. Amongst other things, I helped my students to investigate the meanings of value and success in project and programme management, to research sustainability from a business perspective, to consider the implications of the internet of things and to explore business opportunities through the use of business models.

These days I am teamed with colleagues in Anapoly Ltd. Our purpose is to invest our capabilities in young people local to Plymouth, for example by encouraging and supporting budding entrepreneurs who want to develop their business ideas. I also find that I have become the IT Manager, book-keeper and general factotum for Mark’s Kitchen, my elder son’s new enterprise in Bristol.