Interviews – Technology – Steve Bennetts

Steve Bennetts has recently joined Content Technologies, the e-content management and security company, as chief financial officer. Bennetts qualified as a chartered accountant with Ernst & Young, but his most recent position was at Amazon.com where he was European finance director. He lives in the Thames valley with his wife and two children.

New Title: chief financial officer, Content Technologies

Former title: European finance director, Amazon.com

Date of birth: 11 December 1954

Time with last company: 18 months

Reasons for changing position?
After 15 years in field-office positions, I jumped at the opportunity to join a senior management team in the head office of a fast-growing software company with world class technology.

What will you miss most?
Amazon is leading a retailing revolution, which will change the pricing dynamics of industry after industry. In the UK, for example, it was rare to find best-selling books offered at 50% discount in the high street, until Amazon established this model. Similarly, it is now common to find top-40 CDs at the £10 ($16) price point.

What will you miss least?
Slough trading estate, the location of Amazon’s UK offices!

What are you most excited about?
The challenges of managing a fast-moving technology company with world leading email and web security products. There are, of course, other world-class technology companies based in the UK, but few have developed the marketing and technology partnerships that are required to maintain long-term global leadership.

What are your personal ambitions?
To help build a large and successful market leader, and have a load of fun at the same time!

What are your new responsibilities?
As Content’s chief finance officer I am responsible for developing the financial aspects of the company to public company standards, and participate fully in the strategic development of its global operations.

What are your new company’s objectives?
To continue to develop (and market) leading Internet and communication security products, and thereby maintain global leadership in our sector. It is quite possible a public flotation would be consistent with our long-term market positioning objectives.

Any pearls of wisdom?
I really, really believe that this is a once-in-a-lifetime period when the convergence of web, broadband, and wireless technologies will result in a commercial and social revolution that will change the world in the same way as the Industrial Revolution did. Anyone who still thinks that these are passing fads similar to, say, mail-order shopping, does not understand the power of the forces of change at work. We are at the early stage of the wiring of the 21st century. It’s scary and challenging, but it is here to stay. Managers should make a conscious decision about how they react to this.

What is the worst job you’ve ever done?
Closing regional sales offices. Job lay-offs are never pleasant but it does sometimes go with the role.

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