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Leaderspeak

Under his leadership, the IT services company saw a 46 per cent revenue increase last year and its team strength grew over 30 per cent.

John Owen, Group CEO, Mastek ltd John Owen, Group CEO, Mastek ltd

Q. The biggest challenge in your career

A. I like challenges. I do not like maintaining status quo or going into an organisation which is already on track and stable. It is boring. I believe that upholding your values is the biggest challenge. When the business was in difficulty, I was asked to sign a project that I knew was not right. I was told we would get funding for the organisation if I would do it. But I did not do it because, in my world, it was wrong. We were risking investors' money.

Q. Your best teacher in business

A. Our parents shape a lot of our thinking. I started work when I was 14 and joined my family business. Every night, our dinner felt like a board meeting, but there was a lot to learn and absorb. My father shaped my value system a lot more than I probably appreciate. And my mother always said, treat people fairly on the way up because you do not know when you will pass them on the way down. There is a lot of truth in that.

Q. Three key management lessons for young people

A. First, do something you love and be world class at it. Second, do not become a generalist. Become a specialist and then learn general knowledge and general management. Third, business is easy; it is not complicated, but it is about people. Management is about executing your vision and strategy for people, through people.

Q. Two essential qualities a leader must have

A. God gave us two ears and one mouth. So, listen twice as hard before you speak. Also, as a leader, you are seen as a decision maker. A lot of people have input and ideas, but they do not want to be accountable for any decision. Ultimately, you will have to give them that confidence.