5 minute interview: Ian Smith, regional sales director, Foundry Networks

Ian Smith, regional sales director, Foundry Networks

Ian Smith, regional sales director, Foundry Networks

What have you got in your pockets?
I have just come back from the Southampton Boat Show and my pockets are full of dreams - yacht brochures.

Who would you most like to have a date with?
Ellen MacArthur, the yachtswoman who sailed single-handedly around the world. It's an amazing achievement.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a deck officer in the Merchant Navy, but with three A levels and nine O levels, I had overlooked the fact I needed Physics O level. So much for careers guidance.

How did you get into the IT industry?
A circuitous path from policing to insurance and medical sales, then into IT. I can't believe I've gone from the Met to selling MAN (Metropolitan Area Networks) technology.

What's your favourite chat-up line?
I've been married 13 years so the closest I've come to a chat-up line is trying to sell to my children that it's time to tidy their rooms or do their homework. That's real selling!

What do you do to relax?
Go sailing. Years ago, I regularly took part in the Universal 500, a gruelling competition involving a mix of sailing and running, but today it's cruising about in 35ft boats with my family.

What's your favourite song and why?
Blue Monday by New Order. Like most guys, I'm a terrible dancer, but in spite of that, this record always makes me want to dance.

What's your favourite place and why?
London is my home and I love it. I've lived here for nearly 20 years and it's still a buzz to be working in the city or partying in the West End.

If you had a dinner party and could invite anyone, dead or alive, who would you invite and why?
Nigella Lawson. Why? We're both passionate about food and she's wonderful - an absolutely perfect dinner date.

If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
I'd buy a beautiful yacht, an apartment in town and spend my time sailing until I got bored, then I'd fly back to London until I got bored, then I'd go off sailing until I got bored Get the idea?

If you could make a voodoo doll of someone, who would it be?
All politicians. You only have to look at the current crop to realise why people aren't interested in voting.

Is there life after death?
No. When your time has come, that's it, you're worm food - best to make the most of it today.

What's the most daring thing you've ever done?
Chased an armed drug dealer. I was a police officer in the Met and a guy we were trying to arrest pulled a gun and shot at me and a colleague. We were both fine and later caught him, but it was pretty hairy.

What's your best quality?
Being open minded about everything in life.

What's your most annoying habit?
It's got to be my mobile phone - I'm addicted, it's on all the time. I guess I'm nosey and want to know what's going on.

Favourite joke?
Two sheep in a field. One says to the other: "You know, I'm not feeling too well." The other replies: "You can pack that in, you'll get us both killed."

What annoys you most?
People asking for your opinion about a business challenge, not listening to the response and then giving you their opinion and telling you to implement it.

Who is your biggest hero/heroine?

A family friend, Jonathan Wickes. He is a self-made man who opened a string of restaurants called The Inebriated Newt. He was passionate about customer service and risked his fortune time and time again to start new ventures. He opened my mind to business and always going for the goals you set.

How would you like to die and what would you choose as your epitaph?
Naturally - and before my children. Epitaph: "It wasn't for the lack of trying."

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