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Former CEO of Microsoft Europe and Current CEO of Viatel & Digiweb Ireland Learns his Strengths

4 min

“You gotta figure out a way.”

The day Griffith College Graduate Paul Rellis became CEO of Microsoft Europe, “the IMF came to town.” The bank bailout was a reality, and while the company could still afford to employ people, business went way down – which, in the software world, is a big problem.

“You don’t get a lot of help from the mothership when that happens,” according to Rellis, “because people don’t want to hear excuses. So you gotta figure a way out.” Problem-solving was something he had plenty of experience with, but this was a scale unlike anything he’d dealt with before. “I struggled in the first six to twelve months; I didn’t know what to do…We had customers who couldn’t pay us anymore, we had customers going out of business.” His own employees were dealing with debts, mortgages, supporting families – some even emigrated.

“Understanding the strengths I had”

With time, though, Rellis managed to get things back on track, and in the process learned about himself and his work style. With the help of a coach, he was able to figure out what his strengths were and what he had to improve or else risk being held back by his own weaknesses. Focusing on what he could improve in himself proved more useful than jumping to the next major issue he had to worry about.

At the same time, though, he learned personally to “become more of a doer,” to prepare for each task in front of him and gain satisfaction from it. “Small steps, being satisfied, even personally satisfied, alleviates a lot of the pressure you’re going to have in any business job.”

“Prepare well. Do well.”

Asked what advice he would give, Rellis adds that this process of improvement continues all the time. “It's not something that's over. It continues every single day. You have to prepare well. Do well. Follow up well, and the opportunities will be enormous in front of you if you learn from others who’ve been through this as well.”

Watch Paul's full talk below: 

 

 

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