About mr alex

[Eagle]  a symbol of strength, keen vision, perseverance, commitment, and courage.

Eagles are a rare species that possess the ability to overcome obstacles and soar above everyday life.

From Milk Delivery Boy to Chairman and CEO 

I started working as a Milk Delivery Boy aged 13, left school at 15 and had led a Union Strike by the time I was 21. I enjoyed work, whereas school always seemed to be something that others enjoyed. I was able to reach the dizzy height of CEO (UK) of a Fortune 500 Company, without much further education.

I quickly realised that I learnt better by doing things. My mistakes came not from theory, but rather from the practical world of working for a living. I learnt to love the world of business, whether it was winning an order, or putting in a productive shift in a factory. I really get a buzz out of business; it's an ever-changing environment, with never-ending opportunities and provides challenges just waiting to be overcome!

 

 

I guess my Scottish 'BraveHeart' heritage, (I was born in Edinburgh), made it impossible for me not to stick my head up above the parapet to see what all the action was. Of course, being brave alone will get you nowhere in business, if you do not also have some other skills.  So, one morning in the summer of 1972, in the coastal city of East London, South Africa -  following a comment from a workmate friend 'Commander' Dennis Bennet that if I really wanted to; I could become a Leader. I made my mind up - that is exactly what I would enjoy being - a Leader.

 

I had no acedmic qualifications, I was a machine minder in the Printing industry. So, I decided  to become a sponge, and go seek and soak up whatever knowledge I could glean from others. I spent every waking hour learning how a factory works. I was working shifts, so I arranged to come in early or stay late so I could spend time in Accounts, Sales, Estimating, Production Control, Warehousing, Despatch and in every area of Manufacturing. I realised that being a machine minder alone would not qualify me to become a Leader. I understood that academia was not for me - but learning was. 

 

Within months, I was being 'noticed', then one day Alan St Clair Gibson, our Managing Director called me to his office to say that the company had just purchased a business in Johannesburg, and wanted me to move to Johannesberg to help him sort it out. So, aged 27, I headed for my first business turnaround.

 

That first management role gave me the opportunity I needed to learn further about managing people. My journey to Leadership continued in Africa and good fortune eventually found me working for the World's Largest Commercial Printing Company, RR Donnelley. This enabled me to step up from managing medium-size businesses to a 50,000 plus Fortune 500 company. 

 

Nobody should underestimate how personally challenging it is to be a Senior Executive of a large Global Corporation. It was even more difficult for me, as I found myself surrounded by high-quality Leaders, all with impressive academic and business qualifications. However, what I lacked in qualifications, I made up for with hard work, commitment and an ability to be creative when solving problems.  This creative streak was accompanied with a healthy disregard for bureaucracy and a built-in dislike for being prescribed to rather than being asked to do something.    

 

My Leadership journey continued with more Chief Executive roles in Poland and Hungary, which I enjoyed, even although I speak no other language than English. I found out that Leaders are not judged by their linguistic skills, but rather than whether they promise what they say they will do.   

 

I recently written his memoir called it does matter’, detailing incredible stories of the business successes and failures I experienced over the decades. I believe that Leadership comes to those who learn and know their market and business well.  I also belong to the school of 'bouncers'  able to bounce back from their failures.

 

My book reveals an honest, open and frank account of life moving along the bumpy road to success. I want nothing more than to help other leaders in their organisation, large or small.  Firstly because I would like to and second because I will also learn. The book makes fascinating reading, for anyone interested in learning how someone got to the top by taking the road less travelled. 

 

I find it rewarding to high potential people learn how to overcome business challenges quickly and decisively. When not Writing or Mentoring, I enjoy renovating our 19th century Cyprus homes, leading and watching the skilled local Cypriot tradespeople!  I live on the sunshine island of Cyprus with my wife Jennifer and our beagle ‘dug’ Milo.

 

Leadership is not for everyone

it requires courage, sacrifice, focus and persistence 

Most of all it is about learning on the job

Note:

In Cyprus, adults are known by their first name; hence they call me  'mr alex' 

Former President - Global Telecoms Corporation:

 

"I could always depend on Alex for straightforward, candid and concise input and feedback, whether the news was good or maybe not so good; I counted on Alex for the purified reality – it does matter."

Factories and People
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