Magazine article Management Today

MT Business Lifeforms: The Sales Director

Magazine article Management Today

MT Business Lifeforms: The Sales Director

Article excerpt

Flash, smart and candid, Mike Perry puts the buzz into mobile firm 2Ear plc.

'Nice one, mate. Sweet!' How often do you hear words like these at the boardroom table? If you're a director of mobile phone business 2Ear plc, pretty much whenever Mike Perry opens his mouth. Other pearls to trip off his tongue at the last board meeting included 'neat as nuts' (describing a Japanese videophone) and 'a load of slags gagging for septic cash' (a competitor's aggressive wooing of the American equity markets).

To say that Perry is on the board but not 'on board' is to state the obvious. While other directors favour Savile Row pinstripes, Mike sports flashy Hugo Boss numbers and strident Windsor-knotted ties. They are happy with standard-issue Jags, Mercs and Beamers; Mike has just scored himself a Porsche Cayenne SUV, whose huge alloy wheels and blacked-out windows would be more at home at a Premier League training session than at 2Ear's suburban HQ. Rumours that he tried to buy the number plate 'W1 DE' for his new wagon pushed levels of Perry-worship among junior sales staff right off the end of the scale.

He supports Arsenal loudly; his interest in the arts runs from Vin Diesel to full-frontal nudity, and although he'll cheerfully dine at the Ivy when work demands, he's happier down the local battle (battle cruiser = boozer) with the sales boys, sinking a pint or six of 'European fighting lager' before heading off for a thermonuclear curry.

When people meet Mike, they tend to assume he's a barrow boy made good.

But you don't get this sort of width through an accident of birth - you have to want it. Michael Oliver Perry was born entirely against type - in rural Herefordshire to an Anglican vicar and his wife. An only child, he was studious, diligent and well-behaved, and his parents wondered if he might follow his father into the Church.

After exemplary A-levels, he went up to St John's College, Oxford. Soon, he'd gone from being a virgin to a 'slaaag', and from communion wine only to a man never without a pint of high-voltage lager. And, after two terms, from being a don of tomorrow to a dropout of today. But Perry didn't make a beeline for a squat in Camden and sign on. Good Thatcher's boy that he was, he got on his bike and founded a business selling home computers.

Trading in Apricots, Acorns and Apples didn't have the cachet of a BA (Oxon), but it paid well. Eight years later, he'd trousered close to pounds 1 million. Half of this went into shrewd investments, the rest into flashy cars (including his first 'Porky', a Guards-red 911 Turbo), Rolexes and girls. …

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