A brush with death and what Phil did next

09 May 2022

One Monday shortly before Easter 2021, Phil Wedgwood did his normal start-of-week day as CEO of Manchester software company Engage Solutions Group. Less than 24 hours later, he was in the ICU at Salford Royal and his family had been told to prepare for the worst.

In the early hours of Tuesday Phil had suffered a brain haemorrhage. For all his previous good health, it had struck out of the blue and put him close to death – for an agonising week it was very much touch and go.

Three months later, Phil was back at work, testimony to his spirit and fitness, the skill and care of the medical profession, the love of his family, and the support of brain and spinal injury charity BASIC. And one of his first decisions? To write a book.Cover

Phil explains: “Granted, it’s not the usual ‘carpe diem’ response to a near-death experience. I think people were expecting me to say that I was off sailing round the world or cycling through South America. But no, I was just struck by a really strong desire to write about the last few years and what we’ve done at Engage: we'd reached a stage where our results had validated our innovation, thinking and domain expertise, so there was a purpose as well as a motivation to tell the story. I know it sounds a bit random but I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved as a SaaS business, proud of the team we have and the journey we’ve been on. So why not capture all of that, as both an affirmative end point to my recovery and starting point for life part two?”

The book – Destination Engage - is now complete and available from today on Amazon and it does indeed tell the story of how Phil and his two colleagues – aka the three ‘Mister Men’ – have built a successful technology company and changed business thinking around engagement into the bargain. Phil is very candid, not afraid to reveal the restless, questing and sometimes difficult-to-deal-with entrepreneurial spirit that has helped fire the Engage engine. It’s an intriguing insight into how someone’s personality shapes a business and at the same time a generous tribute to colleagues who have made their contribution through not just their own inputs but through their patience and support.

The book’s motivation was serious; the subject is serious as Engage, the company, has undoubtedly reshaped how the C-suite regards engaging with both their internal and external audiences, as well as giving them the technical platform to do so. But readers will find a strong thread of humour and self-deprecation throughout, typified by some wonderful cartoons that underscore the point that Phil and the team may take what they do seriously, but they don’t take themselves too seriously at all.

brain book

Continues Phil: “One of the best things about doing the book was that it reassured me that my brain was still functioning…well, as well as it ever did. I was able to remember the various stages of our development, and capture what I’d been thinking and our rationale for doing stuff, and that was a huge relief. After I came home from hospital, I obviousy learned more about what the odds were on surviving brain injuries like mine, and surviving with full capacity, and they weren’t exactly encouraging. But I look at the book now and it tells me that I beat the odds, and for that I will be eternally grateful.”

The royalties for Destination Engage will go to the charity that helped Phil with his recovery, BASIC, and the company will also be match funding the total royalties raised. Adds Phil: “I doubt I’ll be troubling the bestseller lists but this project really was just a personal mission and it does properly punctuate a remarkable period in my life. If we can raise funds for BASIC, I’d be thrilled – I’ve been very, very fortunate and with this, and some other plans I have in the pipeline, I hope I can give something back.”

Destination Engage is available from Amazon in both paperback and eBook formats.