1. How long have you been in the industry, and what is your current job title ?
I am the director and owner of Reef Knots, which produces beautiful handmade printed silk ties. Previously, I worked 13 years in equity research and fund management for both Citi and Morgan Stanley. This gave me a strong grounding in business.
2. Did you have a mentor and, if so, who ?
The short answer is no, but I would be interested in one. I taught myself every aspect of the business from design, branding, marketing, to even product photography. I have filled the technical gaps with consultants who have proved invaluable.
3. Are you by nature an optimist or a pessimist ?
I am such an optimist that it drives people crazy, but that's not to say I take huge risk. I just believe that if you work hard, do something right and better than the competition, then you will succeed.
4. Which business leader do you most admire and why ?
I wouldn't say there is one, but I am inspired by leaders of companies that went into stale industries and made them interesting again. Similar to what we are trying to achieve.
5. What's the biggest lesson you have learned in your career to date ?
When people say something is over, there may be great value and opportunity. Markets and products are often cyclical, be they commodities, equities, even ties. In the 1960s, the consensus thought ties would be dead in 10 years. Then everyone was wearing a power tie in the 1980s.
6. What's your favourite business quotation or life motto ?
'You don't want to get old wondering what might have been'.
7. What's the best business book you've ever read ?
The Lean Start-Up by Eric Ries. It reminds you that ultimately the customer is in charge and will tell you what they want. It is up to you to adapt and test constantly.