Born: Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Education: Bachelor’s degree, computer science, York University, Toronto; master’s of science, University of Southern California
What is the greatest business challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
When I bought VeriFone, the company was losing a lot of money. HP didn’t really want the company and the employees were demoralized and both the customers and the investors had lost faith in the company. In addition, the management team was awful and needed to be replaced. We were able to turn things around and turn a $5 million acquired investment into a company that has a $5 billion market-cap value.
Whom have you most admired in business and why?
That would have to be Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle. He’s unconventional and challenges the status quo on a lot of levels. People said that the database market was saturated and that Oracle was no longer a player, then the bubble burst and nobody believed that he could turn it around. Then when the issues with PeopleSoft came up, he forged ahead. I love people who just don’t accept the answer ‘no.’ He’s been around a long time and has survived many cycles in the technology industry.
What is the greatest business lesson you’ve learned?
It’s all about the execution, and you’re nothing as a CEO without the right people around you. CEOs think that picking the right strategy is the most important thing, but great ideas die because of faulty execution. Execution is more important than strategy, and having the right people to execute the strategy is most important of all.