Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Secrets of My Success; Alex Mahon Chief Executive, the Foundry

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Secrets of My Success; Alex Mahon Chief Executive, the Foundry

Article excerpt

What do you do? We are a tech and creative software provider, writing code from scratch for special effects on TV, films, gaming and design. We're in Soho but we're a global company. It's an interesting mix our work is quite numerical but our clients are creative, like Disney and Framestore. I've been here for six months. As CEO, I'm juggling a lot, managing people, working on product launches and targeting new markets. Typically I spend a couple of days in London and then I might be at our office in LA or Austin, Texas, or Manchester or Paris. Travelling means I meet a lot of people and glean their perspectives. Also, I have four kids so a long flight with a glass of wine, a film and a nap is bliss.

What do you enjoy about it? I like that the focus is international as I have only ever done international tech and high-growth businesses. I enjoy that "running-to-catch-up" mode. Managing a steady, static business is a very different skill. I like building a culture at a company that can thrive on growth. Coming from television before, what's exciting is going to clients like Pixar to see them create Finding Dory or ILM for Star Wars. We're still in the cowboy days in terms of augmented and virtual reality but London has become the home of tech, which is really exciting.

What don't you like? I generally want to get things done fast. To do that you have to bring everyone with you, which takes time, so I'm always having to balance that. That said, if you wait around to reach consensus you will never get anything done. That's why CEOs often say they're lonely; they're surrounded by people but the crunch decisions are often made alone.

Biggest break? My mum ran a pharmacy in Edinburgh and I started working there at eight, I left at 11 because it paid less than the minimum wage! Later I was a waitress, a barmaid, a dishwasher and eventually did a PhD to become a medical physicist. Then I became a tech consultant, which is what led me back to tech. I became an internet consultant in 1998. I went from being an academic to plunging into proper business and then went into TV at RTL and Fremantle. …

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