Belfast Telegraph

Q&A: Paul Trouton, chief executive of FUEL IT

For Paul Trouton, chief executive of FUEL IT, his career began when he saw a way to help his fellow undergraduates publish their dissertations cheaply. And he's loved it ever since

Is business a career or a way of life to you?

Originally I did not plan to be in business but instead let something good grow into one. It is now a way of life for not only myself but also a lot of our staff at FUEL. I don't think of what I do as work and although I take it very seriously I enjoy it too much to think of it as anything other than part of my life.

How did you get started in the IT business?

I have been involved with computers since their introduction into our homes back in the early 1980s. The business started while studying for my computer science degree at Queen's University in 1991. I saw an opportunity to massively undercut final year dissertation costs by using my (then emerging technology) Inkjet printer to print them. Within two weeks I could not cope with the level of requests.

Do you have any regrets about anything you've done in business or your career in general?

I don't harbour regrets, as I believe they serve no benefit. Everything that happens in life helps to shape you – the trick is to look at the positive in every event because there is always something positive to focus on and then keep moving, changing and improving.

Name the three people to whom you owe your present success to, in order of importance.

Firstly I owe a proportion of my present success to myself. I think that it is very important to believe in yourself before others can.

When you know something, be confident; if you don't know it, learn and improve. Second on the list would be my family – my wife Heather, my children Poppy and Carson and my parents. Third on the list of people to whom I owe my present success would be Angus Wilson, our chairman.

When I needed a helping hand Angus stepped in. He is not only our chairman but a mentor, a friend and an exceptional person.

Do you ever switch off from work – and if so, how?

I love the craziness of family life and get immense satisfaction watching my children grow and learn about the world around them. I have cooked all my life and enjoy growing and eating our own veggies and also gardening. I have a dedicated music room and often spend an evening weaving about through my collection, which includes everything from Bowie to Miles Davis.

Would you like your business to be bought over one day, or do you want to always remain in entire control?

I would never say never, but maybe not just at the present time. As I enter my twenty-second year in business I feel like I am sharper than ever and I want to see how far FUEL, with its current team of people can go. We are buzzing right now and the team and I feel like we can achieve anything. I will always need to be in control of something, even if I did sell.

What was your first job and how much were you paid?

At my uncle's vegetable farm where I worked in the summer for £10 a day.

Is keeping your employees happy important to you?

Keeping my employees happy is of the upmost importance. My staff hear me say regularly that FUEL is a collection of exceptional people and everything else is just stuff. We try to make our work stimulating and fun and as a team I'm proud to say we bond very well.

Quick fire

iPod or LP: Vinyl and a valve amp make a good experience. Listening to an album from start to finish is a true event

Kindle or dog-eared paperback: When relaxing : Dog-eared paperback When working : iPad

Blockbuster or political biography: Blockbuster

Running or swimming: Swimming, preferably in a warm ocean

Mrs Brown's Boys or Father Ted: Father Ted every time – I wish they had made more

Belfast Telegraph