Born: I’m Scottish by birth, as you may be able to tell from my accent. I actually was born in Ireland and was brought up and educated in Glasgow, Scotland.
Education: Honors degree in business administration from Strathclyde University in Glasgow
What was your very first job, and what did you learn from it?
Actually my very first job this will show my age was a grocery delivery boy on a bike going around the neighborhood. I think I got the princely sum of one shilling and sixpence for that job.
After leaving college though, I went into the automotive industry. And back in those days, it was a great place to (transition) into the management development stream. My very first day was on the shop floor where they made trucks and the first lesson I ever got was from the superintendent there who told me, ‘You’re probably a very smart lad, but don’t touch anything unless I tell you to,’ because that was his territory.
Whom do you admire most and why?
I have strong admiration for my parents. They came from very low, working-class life and fought real hard to get me an education, which I always appreciated.
From a business perspective, there are two leaders that I had the fortunate time to experience their leadership. One was Ken Olsen, who was the founder and leader of Digital Equipment Corp., my first high-tech company I worked for. I learned a lot about entrepreneurship and creativity from him. And then the second person was Steve Jobs, and I learned a lot about innovation and marketing and determination and focus from Steve. I only worked for him for about nine, 10 months, but it was quite an experience.
What’s your definition of success?
Achieving your goals in the way you wanted to achieve them and true to your conviction.
Your workday is off to a bad start. How do you turn it around?
I have a cup of coffee, think about the problems and just go tackle it head-on.
If you weren’t in your current position, what might you be doing instead?
I’d probably be a consultant to other companies. A lot of my experience has been in taking companies public, turnarounds, [leading] companies that need to change direction and get back on a growth trajectory, and I’d love to help other companies do that.