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Five-minute interview: Steve Santini, Schneider Electric

In the latest five-minute interview, Steve Santini, channel director of APC by Schneider Electric, takes some time to field the questions

Hello, Steven. Tell us what you do for a living?

As the UK channel director of Schneider Electric, I develop, deploy and manage the local IT channel sales strategy for the UK and Ireland. I have a great team whom I manage and support to make our vision become a reality through collaboration between our partner and end-user sales teams.

Why are you the right person for this job?

I believe that skills and experience, although necessary, are not the driving factor behind why a person’s fit for a role – especially a role where you are responsible for managing other people.

Everyone needs to have the right set of values, social intelligence and judgement for any role. I believe mine are just about right for where I am in the industry, and with some development, I hope to encourage and mentor others to develop themselves and achieve their goals.

What gets you up in the morning?

My phone and my three kids, or the dog, which is typically around the 5:30am mark each day. My family always comes first, but I enjoy what I do and I take great pride in who I do it for.

Who helped you get to where you are today?

So many people. I’ve learnt about what to do from some of the best, and what not to do from others. There are a handful of people though both in Schneider Electric and in my previous roles who saw the potential in me and had the character to empower and develop me, and not themselves. That’s real leadership!

What is the best or worst business advice you have received and from whom?

I had a mentor early on in my previous role who gave me some of the best advice I have received to this day: “If it’s not having a direct positive impact on the business or your customer, why are you doing it?”

The worst advice I’ve ever received is “not to challenge or innovate”. I truly believe that our role as technology leaders or partners is to question, disrupt and educate for the better. Innovation does not come from doing the same things we have always done, but from questioning why we do them and identifying ways to improve our outcomes.

What advice would you give to someone starting out today in IT?

The first is to accept that, in the beginning, you may lack experience and that’s OK; the key is to try and to learn something from everyone you meet.


“While it’s crucial to learn as much as you can about the sector you work in, technologies continue to evolve and you will never stop learning.”

Steven Santini, Schneider Electric

The second is to understand that while it’s crucial to learn as much as you can about the sector you work in, technologies continue to evolve and you will never stop learning.

The third is to never let yourself become complacent, or to assume that everyone in the room knows more than you – this will ensure you listen more than you talk, which is essential when working with partners and customers.

Is it possible to get through an industry conversation without mentioning ‘digital transformation’?

You can, but it would be a challenge. The reality is that trends such as digital transformation, edge computing and automation are not new. Customers have been implementing technology to drive transformative outcomes for years, but now it’s a priority and the marketing engines are in full swing.

What does the next five years hold for the channel?

I believe that the channel is going through a dynamic shift and is moving from a traditional hardware sales model to a solutions and services model. 2020 has expedited this shift because of the growing trend toward digital transformation and a more distributed workforce.

As customers begin to use technology to reduce Scope 3 emissions, I also believe that sustainability will also play a crucial role for channel partners, and we’ll see new service models emerge to tackle inefficient digital infrastructure systems.

Tell us something most people do not know about you?

I am a farm boy through and through, and I was born and raised in South Africa on a farm in the middle of nowhere. I also went to an all-boys farm boarding school. However, here I am in the technology industry. Life takes you on your own journey and you have to embrace every opportunity you encounter.

If you had one specific goal to achieve in your life, what would it be and why?

It would be to go back to my roots and move to a country, or plot, in the middle of nowhere. I love the outdoors and would love to have the freedom to get lost on an adventure.

What is the best book you've ever read?

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

And the worst film you’ve ever seen?

Airbud – my children made me endure that movie series to the brink of madness!

What would be your Desert Island MP3s?

First, no one calls them MP3s! Second, I like the 80s/90s rock – Rush, Pearl Jam, Kiss, and so on. Just throw it all into a playlist and begin streaming.  

What temptation can you not resist?

Chocolate-coated peanuts – the survival rate of a family share bag is currently averaging at less than 20 minutes.

What was your first car and how does it compare with what you drive now?

My first car was a Fiat Palio (similar to a Punto), and I currently drive a Dacia Duster. As much as I love cars, I can’t bring myself to have anything too classy with three young kids waiting in the wings ready to leave unidentifiable markings. However, an Audi E-Tron would be an ideal replacement in the next year or two. 

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with? Why, what did they do?

Justin Bieber. He didn’t do anything to me, but he’s the guy everyone loves to hate!

If you could be any animal for a day, what would you be and why?

Any large bird of prey. The freedom of flight is a no brainer for me.

If you were facing awesome peril and impossible odds, which real or fictional person would you most want on your side and why?

If we’re talking fictional characters, then I may as well have Superman as my ally so he can fly me the hell out of there.

And finally, a grizzly bear and a silverback gorilla are getting ready for a no-holds-barred rumble. Who is your money on and why?

Hands down the gorilla – arguably comparable strength to a bear, but the agility and opposable thumbs give it a significant advantage.

Read more five-minute interviews from MicroScope

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