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Time out with Keith Todd

Time out with Keith Todd

Source: Keith Todd, FFastFill

FFastFill's Keith Todd (CBE) takes the two-minute test

Place of birth: Glasgow, Scotland
Residence: Knotty Green, Bucks
Marital status: Married with four children (18 to 25 years old)
Education: FCMA
Career path: Civil Servant (1972 to 1975), GEC UK and USA (1976 to 1987), ICL (1987 to 2000 - Finance Director then CEO 1995 to 2000), The Open University (Council member and Chairman of the finance committee), Chairman of the UK Broadband Stakeholder Group (2002 to 2005)
Current posts: Executive Chairman & CEO FFastFill plc, Non exec Chairman Easynet plc

Q: What was your first job?
A: Assistant butcher at Pontin’s Holiday camp. It was the best incentive to gain qualifications and find a career.

Q: Who is or was your mentor?
A: I have been influenced by a few key people - Sidney Dobb, previously Finance Director GEC Marconi, Sir Roy Gardner, currently CEO at Centrica, Naruto-san, previously Deputy Chairman Fujitsu. Also, Miki Walleczek who is a wise counselor. They are all people who think about bigger issues and how firms could change the palettes of the industries they were/are involved with.

Q: Which business leaders do you most admire?
A: Jack Welsh (GE). He is an amazing example of someone who combines extraordinary business acumen with an ability to provide what his customers want while attracting really talented people.

Q: If you weren't in your current job, which company would you most like to lead?
A: I enjoy travelling and meeting people so it would be good to run an airline or hotel group. BA could be very interesting.

Q: Do you read books on management theory? If, so which has influenced you the most?
A: Geoffrey Moore, 'Crossing the Chasm' and 'Inside the Tornado'. The best view about how technology companies succeed. Given how many IT firms have failed since 2000 there has to be compelling reasons how the successful ones survived and prospered.

Q: Which competitors do you benchmark your company's performance against?
A: Companies such as Bloomberg and Reuters have shown what is possible in delivering services to the capital markets and ADP in the general markets. In terms of direct benchmarking, we really have to look at banks who still use in-house software for order routing and risk management, if we are to draw a direct comparison with the FFastFill ASP model. My belief is that the future of technology is for it to be delivered as a service, by specialist services companies that focus on specific market niches that bring together market knowledge with service technology know-how. This is what FFastFill does.

Q: What has been your best experience in business?
A: Whenever you win a competitive bid it is really satisfying. Being on the board of the Camelot when we won the original competition to run the UK lottery was fantastic. It was a great consortium bid and great team performance by all those involved. It turned into a huge business success and the lottery became a national institution.

Q: What was your biggest mistake in business?
A: Not removing 'parasites' in teams early enough. In a sense this is where Jack Welch's competitive approach works – the non-performers don't last long under him.

Q: What keeps you awake at night?
A: Very little - I usually sleep like a log. But if I'm sleepless on an overnight flight then I will use the time to think about new ideas for FFastFill.

Q: How do you relax?
A: Playing golf and swimming and spending time at our holiday home. Strangely, I find that I am most productive when relaxed so often utilise my time by plotting the next customer win.

Q: What was the last gadget you bought?
A: My blackberry and memory stick.

Q: Favourite Web site
A: Plymouth Argyle FC. Can't live with out the Internet radio commentary when not at the game.

Q: Desert island disc/book
A: Bill Bryson's 'A Short History of Nearly Everything'. Compelling reading and an excellent example of complex science made readable.

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