Meet the CEO is a new, weekly feature on TechCentral. The aim is to introduce readers to the people behind the news by providing insights into the leaders shaping South Africa’s ICT industry. This seventh interview in the series is with Peter Searle, CEO of software development house BBD. We hope you enjoy it. — Duncan McLeod, Editor
What was your first-ever job?
A lifesaver for the East London municipality.
Who is your greatest role model, and why?
The world is filled with people who achieve so much, some you meet and others you read about. Many of these serve as role models in one way or another, maybe on a micro scale as you see someone perform a random act of kindness. On a more direct level, Ralf Dominick and Tom Budge, both founders of BBD, have taught me a lot over the years. Ralf pretty much makes anything seem possible and Tom made me realise balance in life is in your own head.
What’s your favourite quote?
A few I like are:
“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone” and “Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth”, both by Alan W Watts. I love these. They say, don’t waste time with too much introspection. Rather live in the present and do stuff.
“In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” — George Orwell. This is more and more true in the world of today.
What phone do you currently use, and why?
I use an Apple iPhone because of iTunes mostly. It makes family sharing simple.
What are you currently reading?
When Breath Becomes, by Paul Kalanithi. The first chapter is a bit of a tear-jerker. It’s very well written and worth a read.
What are your favourite books?
Carl Hiaasen, John Irving and Phillip Roth are my favourite authors and hence I have enjoyed all their books. But I am indiscriminate regarding what I read and easily switch from a book about life and living to pulp-fiction “trash”.
What’s your favourite movie?
Apocalypse Now, which was inspired by Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which is also a great book. I also enjoyed Fried Green Tomatoes, despite this being more of a “chick flick”.
What is your most treasured possession?
My family and friends.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Working with people who make good things happen and, in doing so, realising how powerful it is to give people a chance to really perform.
What is your greatest regret?
Not having the skills to be a pro surfer … it’s not so much a regret, just a reality. Probably being too self-centred too often.
How do you cope with stress?
By having a plan and doing something about it. Once you start doing something, the stress levels drop. And like all of us I find sports are great stress relievers. For me, that’s cycling and, when I get a gap, surfing.
What skill or talent would you most like to possess that you don’t already?
I’d like to play the guitar, but I’m pretty much tone deaf, so I guess I will stick to iTunes! I’d like to be able to dance properly — I am great at head-banging but I struggle with more than the two-step.
What phrase do you most use in business?
In software there’s something called a regular expression and people at BBD used to joke that my regular expression was a profanity. But I’m sure they were wrong! The most important part of any software delivery is ensuring you have “great people” — there I said it … again.
What’s your favourite place in the world, and why?
Anywhere near the ocean. I grew up with the ocean as my playground and living in Jo’burg has made me super-conscious of the value the ocean gives back to both myself and the world.
Article first published on TechCentral