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Last Updated: Monday, 1 November, 2004, 10:31 GMT
Never rest on your laurels
Clive Pinder of Vielife
Learning to sleep standing up is just one of Clive's achievements
Clive Pinder has been a bit of a globe trotter in his 23 years of branding and marketing, visiting North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle-East.

Mr Pinder moved to business consultancy Vielife from his post as chief executive of Metrius Europe, a subsidiary of KPMG.

Before that, he worked at internet services firm Viant, Scala and was the youngest vice president at DMB&B Advertising, a Top 10 global agency.

He has won numerous awards, including some from Time Magazine and ABC TV; he has contributed to two best-selling books on the networked economy.

What was your first car?

Ford Escort 1300L. I even remember the registration - GDY 24N.

Having been remanded to a boarding school at the age of eight, my first set of wheels was the perfect antidote, and as long as it had four-wheels and two speakers rather than one I didn't care what it was.

What was your first job?

My first job was in 1977 as an assistant to a Corrosion Monitoring Engineer working in the middle of the desert in the Bu Hasa oil field in Abu Dhabi.

It was classified as a 'hardship posting' and I probably made a better income per hour then than I do now. Shifts were two months 'on' and one month 'off'.

The temperature by 10am was 120 degrees Fahrenheit so we started in the field at 5am.

By noon we were confined to working in air conditioned laboratories, and at night we had to pour salt into our first beer of the evening so we had enough in our body (salt, not beer) to cope with the heat the next day.

What was your first house?

A ground floor maisonette by Clapham Common. It was the best investment I ever made.

I bought it for 49,000 with a mortgage I could never afford and sold it 10 months later for 69,000 to finance my adventure to the United States.

What's the best bit of business advice you've had?

"Rules are for the observance of fools and the guidance of wise men", "Strategy by Sacrifice" and "There are more jobs in this world than you could ever possibly get fired from".

Who is your biggest inspiration?

From the point of view of a role model or someone who genuinely made a positive difference, it would have to be Nelson Mandela.

He, better than anyone in my lifetime, demonstrated the four Cs you need to succeed - Commitment, Courage, Compassion and Charisma.

From the point of view of every day inspiration, it would be the people who I work with. They might not appreciate that, and I need to work on the "compassion" part; but as leaders we often forget that the promise and motivation of the big picture can often get blurred at the execution level.

Thinking about their commitment and trust generates energy and ideas that are critical to mutual success.

What can the government do to boost business?

That is the easiest question of the lot to answer - completely re-engineer the so called civil service.

We must develop a customer-focused civil service with an "outside in" perspective that is accountable to the tax payer rather than the other way round.

Around the world, the administrative branch of government is inefficient and self-serving - a closed circuit construct that defends its own existence and status at the expense of the constituents it serves.

It can be done - see the three Cs in my earlier answer above.

What business story is grabbing your interest at the moment?

The socio-demographic cliff facing employers.

Not only are we facing an absolute decline in the number of middle-aged employees - the heart of a knowledge-based workforce - but that workforce is getting older and less healthy every year.

In a post-industrial fully-networked economy, our ability to harness and direct the energy, intelligence, passion and creativity of people is our only sustainable differentiator.

Companies must invest in the health and well-being of their people now or risk allowing the economic and emotional engine that supports our communities to become too old, too weak and too sick to make a contribution at work or at home.

What's the biggest challenge facing business now?

The constraints of the capital markets which demand short-term returns but long-term consistency, and the challenge of combining compassion and well-being with the commercial imperatives that the capital markets demand.

As I don't believe in raising problems without offering solutions, I believe that the quicker we get more women into influential positions in commerce and government around the globe, the quicker these conflicting issues will be resolved via more compassionate capitalism.

What was the proudest moment of your career?

There are many high points. Opening the first convenience stores on petrol forecourts in the UK for BP.

Learning to sleep standing up during my time as a night shift cleaner at Gatwick Airport.

Being fleetingly worth seven figures during my dot.com adventure, and then learning the true value of stock options as it became a dot.bomb experience.

But I still believe my proudest moment is yet to come. The people who invest their careers or money in the companies you lead expect that your best moment lies ahead of you.

History is something to learn from, not aspire to.

Vielife logo
Vielife helps businesses to boost performance by concentrating on the health and well-being of their employees.

Customers include the NHS, Standard Life Healthcare and Eddie Jordan's Grand Prix team.

Through various services including online and consulting, the group offers ways for companies to track worker health and offer business solutions that can lead to increased productivity.


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