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 first interview is with Seacom CEO Byron Clatterbuck. We hope you enjoy it. — Duncan McLeod, Editor.
What was your first-ever job?
My first job was in 1970, as a morning paperboy for the Washington Post. I was six years old, and started helping my brother on Saturdays and Sunday mornings delivering about 50 newspapers before 7am. It was most difficult in the winter months when it was cold and dark. And then there were the dogs that did not like kids walking up to the door of their respective houses. I was only bitten twice, though… I then took over the paper route when I was 10, and continued delivering papers every morning until I was 15.
Who is your greatest role model, and why?
My mom. She was a kind and humorous person, who always tried to make people feel comfortable and welcome. She was also very dedicated and hard-working, and earned her bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees after the age of 40. She went on to become a senior executive at the largest hospital in the US. I learnt my manners and how to treat all people fairly from my mom.
What’s your favourite quote?
“Sorry I wrote you such a long letter, but I didn’t have time to write you a shorter one.” — I like this quote because I think it gets to the crux of communicating and getting people to believe you and buy into what you are saying. Many people don’t take the time to distil issues down to their key components and then end up rambling on and on, until no one is listening. This means that they did not think about their audience, the time they have to communicate and what key points they want to get across. I see people making this basic communication mistake all the time, and sometimes the best ideas go nowhere as a result of a long letter.
What phone do you currently use, and why?
I use two iPhone 7s. One has my Hong Kong Sim in it; the other my South African Sim. I got used to using Apple products, and am now an avid Apple supporter for home and business use.
What are you currently reading?
I tend to read history and historical fiction. I am currently reading The Flying Squadron, which is the 11th book in the Nathaniel Drinkwater series by Richard Woodman. This particular book is set during the War of 1812, between England and a young United States of America. I enjoy historical stories of leaders overcoming difficult odds, when things seemed much more simple and direct, and action and honour were key aspects of leadership.
What are your three favourite books?
Master and Commander, by Patrick O’Brian
The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
What’s your favourite movie?
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, directed by Sergio Leone. I love the “man with no name” hero.
What is your most treasured possession?
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Meeting the huge variety of people that I have had the fortune to meet and get to know, from a vast array of cultures and backgrounds. I left the US when I was 22 and have lived all over the world ever since.
What is your greatest regret?
Not travelling and visiting more places when I had the chance.
How do you cope with stress?
Stress? What’s stress? I work at Seacom.
What skill or talent would you most like to possess that you don’t already?
I would love to be able to play a musical instrument. I grew up playing the trombone, but quit when I was 18 and went to college. I used to play quite well and could read music. Now it’s Greek to me!
What phrase do you most use/overuse in business?
“Work with.” — I always like to say I work with people.
What’s your favourite place in the world, and why?
Tough one, but I’m going to have to say Montepulciano in Tuscany, Italy. I love just walking the streets, smelling the aromas of the incredible food, and feeling like it is 500 years ago. — (c) 2018 NewsCentral Media