My Working Day – Daniel Chapchal – CEO and Deputy Chairman at Camcon Federation of Companies

My Working Day

As the leader of a company, you are there to set an example, to lead and inspire a team individuals to achieve a series of business goals. But how do these business leaders go about their daily routine?

Business Leader spoke to Daniel Chapchal – CEO and Deputy Chairman at Camcon Federation of Companies about his working day.

WHAT TIME DO YOU USUALLY WAKE UP?

The alarm is set for 5:55am. My wife and I both get up and get ready to go to the gym. We are there every morning at opening time (6:30am except weekends when they open at 8:00am). There is a small but very regular group who are there every morning and we have made some great friends.

WHAT DO YOU TYPICALLY HAVE FOR BREAKFAST?

During the week my breakfast consists of a fruit and yoghurt plus a cup of black coffee. At the weekend the treat is a nicely warmed up croissant with beautiful unsalted butter.

WHAT IS THE REST OF YOUR MORNING ROUTINE BEFORE YOU START WORK?

At 74 I should be retired so I do take things easy most days unless I have to attend meetings. On a normal day I work from my office at home but after breakfast I spend at least an hour reading the papers (we get The Times, Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail). I also have BBC Radio 4’s The Today Programme on but lately this has normally led to me shouting at the radio because of their appalling bias.

Before going to the office, I might just find the time to sit in my music room and listen some wonderful music to get me in the mood to face the day.

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU DO AT THE START OF YOUR WORKING DAY?

The start of the working day is to look through all my emails. I generally look through all the private ones first then review the business ones before calling my PA Pearl on Skype. Pearl and I have worked together since 1986 and she knows my way of working perfectly.

HOW DO YOU PRIORITISE YOUR DAYS WORK?

Being Deputy Chairman of the Camcon Federation of Companies means I talk to the people in the ‘hot seat’ quite a lot and, also discuss the situation with the Chairman David Young (Lord Young of Graffham, an old and valued friend with whom I first worked in 1996).

Most of my involvements are in High Tech development companies and the priority is to keep a look out at the finances and also to see how we are progressing against our own objectives. This is particularly true when the company is still in the product development stage as, in my experience, this often takes much longer than originally planned and there is always a temptation to go for “Mark 2” before “Mark 1” is finished. This can be disastrous and can lead to shareholder fatigue unless properly managed.

In the case of Silverwell Technology Limited we have had a breakthrough in the market due to being able to recruit a most exceptional CEO from within the industry. I try to talk to him as often as possible. This usually has the effect of cheering me up as we are in the wonderful position of consistently winning new customers and orders at the expense of the established players in that industry.

DO YOU PLAN MEETINGS OR ARE THEY A WASTE OF TIME?

I am very lucky that all the companies are run by people I have known for a considerable time and whom I can rely on to keep the ship afloat. As is usual in cases such as the Camcon Federation of Companies, there are always shareholder issues to be dealt with and, because the technology is so revolutionary, we are constantly reviewing approaches to work with us or maybe even invest or acquire. That’s where I spend most of my time.

DO YOU HAVE A WORKING LUNCH OR IS IT GOOD TO TAKE A BREAK?

If I am at home I generally stop for about 45 minutes and have lunch with my wife. I think it is both good to have a break and something I can justify at my age.

It doesn’t always work and my lunch is often interrupted by phone calls. These are usually from other companies where I act as advisor or mentor.

WHEN DOES YOUR WORKDAY FINISH?

I am not sure that it does. I have a lot of interaction with the USA and that often means calls late into the evening.

HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR THE NEXT DAY’S WORK?

I don’t formally do that. In my kind of role you really need to start with a clear desk as new opportunities or problems hit your desk almost every day.

HOW DO YOU SWITCH OFF?

My big ‘switch-off’ is music. I have a huge collection of over 23,000 CDs and there can be nothing better than packing up and sitting down to listen some wonderful music.

We are also frequent concert, opera and theatre goers and generally we would start with an early dinner in a favoured nearby restaurant. We feel we are too old to have an after-event meal!

When I have the time I also very much like to go to museums and art galleries and we do attend a fair number of lectures on the arts.

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU RECEIVED?

The most important piece of advice I ever had was from my very first Chairman who said to me “you must always be fair; and if you can’t then you must be seen to have made every effort to be fair even in awkward situations or when dealing with difficult customers or staff”.

I suppose the greatest advice is ‘have patience’.

I have been exceptionally fortunate to work with, by and large, wonderful colleagues and especially in bad times it is the people that matter most. I remember one of my colleagues when I worked in the USA saying ‘If I had to choose between a company with great products and poor and difficult colleagues or a company with great colleagues and poor products, I would always choose the great colleagues’. It is a maxim I have always tried to abide by although the ideal is to have both great products and great colleagues!

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