Becoming the head of a business which employs some 3,000 people in the UK is daunting enough - but it becomes doubly challenging when one is the son of the founder.

That doesn't faze James Rigby, whose appointment as m anaging director of Birmingham-based SCH UK was confirmed today. In fact, he positively relishes the challenge.

His father, of course, is entrepreneur and multi-millionaire Sir Peter Rigby, the man who created SCH more than 20 years ago. The Warwick Road-based company is now Europe's largest privately-owned technology group with more than 5,000 employees in seven countries.

It would be easy to make comparisons between Sir Peter and his new UK managing director. Both share a love of flying. Both have an overriding passion for the business. Both are deeply involved in charity work.

But that would be to miss the point. James has earned his appointment the hard way - rising through the ranks.

"I've been in the business around 15 years and really worked in all aspects of the company.

"I've had to work and improve myself, understand the business. And after 15 years going around most areas of the company I think I have a pretty good understanding of what makes it tick and where it needs to go," he says as we chat in the SCH boardroom.

Never less than unfailingly polite - another trait he shares with his chairman and chief executive father - he continues: " We are a large business. Overall we are turning over 3 billion euros (£2.04 billion) and in the UK our turnover is just under £1 billion. It is a big, complex business in the UK in its own right.

"I would not expect Peter - and I know he would not - to put me in this role unless he felt comfortable that I was able to execute it.

"The role I take up today is managing director of the UK business. We have around 3,000 people in the UK, around two thirds of those are in the Midlands. It is a big business."

That, to say the least, is something of an understatement. The company's contribution to the economy of Birmingham and the surrounding area is immense, as is its influence.

"This is probably a natural evolution for the business, which accounts for a good half of our turnover and a strong contributor to profits," says James.

"The business is continually very demanding, particularly for Peter. But I should stress that he remains absolutely involved as chairman and chief executive. My appointment is really a natural evolution.

"The business is becoming more and more complex. It continues to expand.

"For example, this year we opened offices in Romania, we are expanding into new territories, fortunately continuing to win business and growing. By virtue of its scale and complexity this appointment really is a natural process."

He describes his working relationship with Sir Peter as "excellent" adding: "We work very well together. I very much admire all that he has done and I very much look forward to continuing to grow the business he has created.

"The strategy he has put in place is not going to change. We have built ourselves into what we call a technology solutions provider - what we do is to help customers source, integrate and manage their technology. That is what we will continue to do.

"Our key strengths have always been our scale, which Peter has built up over many years, our capability - we are a big player on lots of levels; Midlands, nationally and also in recent times at an international level.

"The fact that we are a private business - which I know is important to Peter and also to myself - gives us a flexibility which perhaps a lot of businesses these days don't have.

"Peter has always invested for the long term - the only intention I have is to support him in that regard."

Suggestions that his father will eventually retire - leaving James in overall control - are met with some amusement.

"At some stage that will probably be what happens. I would like to think so - and I am sure that is what Peter would like to think. Having said that he continues to work as hard as ever.

"His passion has always been his business and it continues to be. I can't see him doing anything else for as long as he is around. Of course I would love to think I would help him see the business into the next generation.

"I am sure that's what we both want," said James, who turns 36 this year.

"I've always had hands-on roles in the business.

"Until recently I've run our service operations in Europe. Services represents around 25 per cent of what we do. In its own right it is a £200 million business unit.

"I've run that for the last number of years. It has grown very significantly - services is an important aspect of our business in terms of margin.

"We have invested heavily in it and it is growing very nicely to the point where we are now extending our reach of services down to smaller customers through an operation called Exchange - that is targeting SME businesses with our solutions.

"I guess my role has always been hands-on. I've been involved in many of our key wins over the last few years.

"Last year, for example, we won Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, supplying them with all their new technology requirements. That has become our biggest account. Again last year we also had a big win with Co-op Financial Services and also with Taylor Woodrow."

Aside from their shared love of flying - James is a qualified pilot with a couple of hundred hours under his belt - what else does the new managing director have in common with his father?

Again, he deftly steers the conversation away from the question, preferring to talk about his passion for travel.

"I've travelled quite extensively. When I was younger I lived in France for about a year and half. That was in Paris - and as we now have such a big presence in France it has proved very useful," he said.

Did he ever consider a career which did not involve from SCH? The answer is brief.

"When I left university to spend time in France. I certainly evaluated options. But my deciding choice was to join the business. It's an exciting, dynamic, high growth business. I'm glad I made the choice I did."

Turning to the future of SCH he continues: "The strategy has not really changed. We need to do more of the same and do it well. The company has to some extent been a well kept secret.

"As a private business we perhaps don't have the spend of other people on marketing ourselves. We are well thought of by our customers - perhaps we ought to share that with more people, spread the message so speak.

"Who knows what will lie ahead. I think I am well equipped, more experienced now. I understand the business well enough to face up to any challenges - hopefully - that are presented to me.

"I feel very confident. But it's not just about me. I have a great UK management team, many of whom have been with us longer than me. We are a performance driven business, albeit one with a very strong and a very loyal team."

Sir Peter - and his family - has operated a charitable foundation for many years.

"I am very involved in it," says James.

"We have done things like supporting children's hospices in the area. We have done a lot with schools - I am a governor with a school just up the road, Yardley School.

"We gave them a load of computer kit last year to help them get a specialist college status," he adds, with obvious pride.

SCS already makes a tremendous contribution to the local economy - James intends to reinforce that.

"As we have to make the business more efficient we are actually centralising more into the Midlands.

"Things like our IT infrastructure across Europe - most of it is served from data-centres in the Midlands.

"I see our investment increasing here, not decreasing. That's quite something these days in the Midlands, with all the bad news. We are 100 per cent committed to the region."