Meet the CEO is a new, weekly feature on TechCentral. The aim is to introduce our readers to the people behind the news by providing insights into the leaders shaping South Africa’s ICT industry. Our fifth interview in the series is with Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos. We hope you enjoy it. — Duncan McLeod, Editor
What was your first-ever job?
My first job was as an apprentice technician at Standard Telephones and Cables. That is where I got my start in the telecommunications space. Since then, I have loved this fast-paced industry. It was a great grounding for me to learn not just about the technical aspects of the industry, but also about business itself.
Who is your greatest role model, and why?
One of the people I have a deep respect for is Bill Venter, who founded Altron. What always stood out about Bill was his passion and drive. No matter how hard things got for him, he never gave up — and that is a lesson I carry in my own life and like to pass on to those that work with me. His entrepreneurial spirit has also been something I have long admired. Even when Altron became an established business, he always made it seem as if he was at the beginning of things. He has also done a lot to give back to South Africa.
What’s your favourite quote?
I have two. The first is a quote by Ziad Abdelnour: “Never let success go to your head; never let failure get to your heart.” This really speaks to the idea that you should never give up, but try and stay grounded once you start reaching your goals. It is a reminder to be kind and stay humble.
The second one is unattributed but still impactful: “If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.” I firmly believe that you need to surround yourself with people who are smarter and wiser than you are. It’s by asking them questions and taking their advice and adapting it to work for your own life that you grow not only as a business person, but as a human being, too.
What phone do you currently use, and why?
iPhone X. Most of my technology is Apple and it makes sense to fit my devices into a single ecosystem. They are excellent devices and they just work for me.
What are you currently reading?
I have just finished reading a business book by Prof Dan Ariely called Predictably Irrational, which I enjoyed.
What are your three favourite books?
In general, I like to read biographies and autobiographies. Catching a glimpse of someone else’s life, trials, challenges and successes can really teach us a lot and I find the most value in reading those books.
What’s your favourite movie?
One of the movies I really enjoy is Francis Ford Coppola’s classic story, The Godfather. It’s a complex story impeccably acted by some of the greats in Hollywood — Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and Robert Duval at their best.
What is your most treasured possession?
My family. Spending time with my wife and the rest of my family is the time I value most. So many other things will come and go from your life, but your family will always be there for you.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Being appointed as the MD of Autopage Cellular was a highlight. It was where I started to come into my own as a business person and I suppose it was my first big milestone from a career perspective.
What is your greatest regret?
I have tried throughout my life to live without regrets. I don’t think I would change anything, because all of it has made me who I am.
How do you cope with stress?
When I am feeling particularly stressed, I take my motorbike out for a ride. When you are on a bike, you are disconnected from the world. There are no calls, no texts, just you and the road. It gives me time to think or just to be.
What skill or talent would you most like to possess that you don’t already?
Patience. I could definitely use more of that.
What phrase do you most use/overuse in business?
“Revenue, revenue, revenue.”
What’s your favourite place in the world, and why?
I love Johannesburg, there is a vibe to this city that you will find nowhere else in the world. Its fast-paced, diverse and there is an undercurrent of electricity that makes this city feel more alive than anywhere else. Having said that, I do love to travel and do so whenever I can, usually in Europe. — (c) 2018 NewsCentral Media
- Read TechCentral’s Meet the CEO interviews with BCX’s Ian Russell, Webafrica’s Tim Wyatt-Gunning, Dimension Data’s Jason Goodall and Seacom’s Byron Clatterbuck