5 minute interview: Jonathan Benbow, Vignette

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5 minute interview: Jonathan Benbow, Vignette

Jonathan Benbow, director of product marketing Emea, Vignette

What have you got in your pockets?
A handkerchief, two passports, at least one used boarding pass, metro tickets, my mobile phone, my palm pilot, cigarettes and a lighter - now you know why all the pockets of all my suits are deformed.

With whom would you most like to have a date?
Good question. Whoever it is, they'd better be a good listener: my conversations tend to become monologues - so I'm told.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Most people who know me would probably ask: "When do you intend growing up?" In answer to the question though, I wanted to be a teacher.

How did you get into the IT industry?
By accident - like most people my age. The firm I was working for in 1980 couldn't find enough qualified analyst programmers, so they asked certain employees to take a programming aptitude test. I had an advantage over several colleagues since I was the only boy in my class in secondary school who was forced to take typing. I never knew my touch-typing technique would play such an important role in my life.

What's your favourite chat-up line?
I've never needed a chat-up line - I'm one of those fortunate people who tend to be chatted up.

What do you do to relax?
I love to read historical novels, as well as spend time with my friends in one of my neighbourhood outdoor cafés in the First in Paris.

What's your favourite song and why?
I tend to associate music with people I have known. One of my favourite songs is Girlfriend in a Coma by the Smiths.

What's the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to you?
Confusing the words 'baisser' and 'baiser' in French during a presentation. It took me a while to realise why the audience was laughing, but it turns out I had mixed up the French word for lower, in the context of pricing, with the French slang word for something very, very different.

What's your favourite place and why?
I have many favourite places, but there is something magical about the Hotel Cipriani in Venice.

If you had a dinner party and could invite anyone, dead or alive, who would you invite and why?
Federico Garcia Lorca - Spanish literature has always been one of my passions.

If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
Travel more and certainly create a school somewhere in a developing nation.

If you could make a voodoo doll of someone, who would it be?
I can think of a former boss in a 'past life' who would make a very good candidate, but that would be selfish. I'd rather choose a dictator who is making many thousands of people suffer.

This year is MicroScope's 20th anniversary, what were you doing 20 years ago?

I was a programmer analyst for a phone company in Boston, Massachusetts, while studying at night for my MBA in international marketing.

What's the most daring thing you've ever done?
Definitely taking a canopy tour in the rainforest in Costa Rica. There's something about being in a harness attached to a wire the equivalent of seven stories up with no safety net underneath that is ever so slightly disconcerting.

Favourite joke?
I'm not big in the joke department.

What most annoys you?
Having to repeat myself.

What's your best quality?
My ability to speak to anyone on their own level and show genuine interest in their situation.

What's your most annoying habit?
That I don't realise that perhaps I have annoying habits?

Who is your biggest hero/heroine?
There are many. I admire anyone who takes the time to help people less fortunate than themselves and puts their own interests after those of others in need.

How would you like to die and what would you choose as your epitaph?
Like my own father I would like to simply go to bed and not wake up again the following morning, never having been ill. I feel no need for there to be an epitaph.

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This was first published in April 2002

 

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