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Clear skies for Thunderhead

Clear skies for Thunderhead

Source: Glen Manchester, Thunderhead

Thunderhead CEO Glen Manchester formed his first company at the age of 24. Sixteen years on he explains what keeps him motivated.

Date and place of birth: 16/06/1965 London
Residence: Surrey, UK
Marital status: Single
Education: Went straight into Xerox Graduate Training Program at age 19
Career path: Sales/Account Management (Xerox); CEO founder (Geneva Digital); CEO (Xenos in North America)
Current posts: CEO - Thunderhead

Q: What was your first job?
A: My first job was working as a deer stalker’s gillie in Sutherland. I was responsible for looking after the kennels, occupied by some very lively English Pointers and Labradors. The job generally involved lots of early mornings and trekking around the Scottish Highlands.

Q: Who is or was your mentor?
A: Without doubt it was my marketing director at Xerox. He encouraged me to form my own company when I was 24. He instilled in me the value of having a vision and just going for it.

Q: Which business leaders do you most admire?
A: I admire business leaders who achieve global success but are still able to retain a strong sense of social responsibility. Striking this balance, I think, is going to become an increasingly important issue for business in the 21st century.

Q: If you weren't in your current job, which company would you most like to lead?
A: Thunderhead is going to keep me busy for a long time, but one thing that would tempt me is being involved in a project that delivered a lasting social legacy – for example I’ve been very impressed with Seb Coe and the team heading up the London Olympics.

Q: Do you read books on management theory? If so, which has influenced you the most?
A: In a start-up you don't have time for trial and error and so, while you do undoubtedly learn from your own experiences, drawing on the knowledge and experience of others is a must. Of all the management theory gurus out there, I think Geoffrey Moore has done the most to help the tech industry learn how to make itself relevant to the customer.

Q: Which competitors do you benchmark your company's performance against?
A: As a UK tech company building a global market leadership, I definitely look to companies such as Sage and Automony – those that have successfully walked this path in their respective markets – as the benchmark against which we test ourselves.

Q: What has been your best experience in business?
A: Without doubt it is taking Thunderhead from a clean sheet concept and seeing clients become committed advocates of our solution. Building a team that is capable of sharing my vision and working together to deliver on it to customers is exceptionally rewarding.

Q: What was your biggest mistake in business?
A: Ironically, given the previous answer, it was to take on too much myself when I was a younger manager and not delegating to colleagues. Picking the right team and then trusting them is the biggest lesson I’ve learned in business.

Q: What keeps you awake at night?
A: The belief that my company could always achieve more – if only we didn’t have to waste time sleeping!

Q: How do you relax?
A: Running and trying to keep up with my seven year old (which also seems to involve a lot of running around!)

Q: What was the last gadget you bought?
A: A funky digital camera, so I can email my family both pictures and video while I am travelling on business

Q: Favourite Web site
A: – which helps me keep track of business issues in our customer community.

Q: Desert island disc/book
A: Currently reading Eric Idle’s Tour Diary, which is funny and full of irony, and it would have to be a Beatles collection. (But can I also have a collection of Hitchcock movies too, for the flight over?)

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