Introducing The Executive Visual Interview Series
Interview: Victor Calleja Photography: Charles Calleja, FOTOISH The Studio
The man is an engine of success. He started a company, saw it grow, and developed it successfully in the ultra difficult international field of software development. He remained at its helm, brought in partners and turned it into a publicly-listed company. A few months ago 6PM was a finalist in the European Business Awards, a most prestigious acclamation which means more international recognition. But 6PM’s most important recognition has been its core clients who have always seen in Ivan Bartolo and his team a reliable partner and support network for all their business.
My editor handed me an interesting though daunting brief. I was to interview Bartolo while Charles Calleja stood close by to capture Bartolo’s changing facial expressions while I questioned and prodded him. Bartolo sailed through this with amazing dexterity - for a man steeped in technology he is still a profound and spiritual person. His main attributes are his forthrightness, farsightedness and honesty.
The following are snippets taken from the lively interview with Bartolo which capture the essence of Ivan Bartolo, who proves beyond doubt that integrity, business, success and even happiness can all co-exist.
What do you see in the future?
For the future of 6PM I see prosperity, but if you ask me what I see for the future of the world, globally, then all I see is chaos. But if we act together positively I believe we can change the chaos into a better future.
What’s the better scenario: your own company or shareholders?
Shareholders. When the vision is shared by others it is a vaster one. Remaining on my own or with just a couple of partners would never have spurred us to the growth and inner strength we have as a publicly-listed company.
Who would have said that software, IT, would save lives?
I don’t believe it saves lives. It helps the clinician and provides you with good support decision systems.
Do you consider yourself a success?
Yes, I do consider myself a success actually. I believe I’m successful because I’m a firm believer in people. I empower people. I am a person who includes everybody. And success starts most of the time with happiness, which is being able to live with yourself without having any regrets.
Do your eyes say the truth?
I believe they say more truth than my mouth. And I’m as honest as I can be. One of my biggest failures is that at times I am too trustworthy. In the past I wasn’t a straight-talker as I am now. I was shy so I didn’t look people in the eye. But I was still straight in my dealings.
Do your younger partners let you breathe?
Yes. They let me breathe because they are good partners, and very good business people, so they have as much vision as I do.
Are people scared of you?
No, I don’t think they’re scared of me. I think we have a great relationship—me and all my work colleagues. We always—and I sincerely believe this—work as a unit, as a great team. Even in our failings we remain a team. I think the 6PM people owe their allegiance to me and the organisation. One of the reasons we moved to bigger premises is because we want to shift their allegiance from me to the brand completely.
Something goes drastically wrong at the best of times. Anger management or angry management?
Failings: we have all had some of these horrors. What was your worst?
My worst failure in life was that at a young age I never realised how important education is. I do believe that academic success doesn’t necessarily reflect success in life. But what I really think I did wrong was that I went into business when still too young. I had started a company which failed completely. It was called Intel Programming and Services Limited. I was too young. I did not know how to deal with people.
Are you in direct contact with God?
I think I would be arrogant if I said yes. I try, but...
Are you afraid of being fired?
Not at all. It’s always a possibility. I’m looking for a successor at the moment. It is my responsibility to make sure we’ll have one over the next two years. And when we find the right person, and I feel that we are on the right track, I will realise it’s a good time to go. Making the right choices is always part of success. As with everything in life, failure can be part of our life and moving on to new paths is a necessary passage. Life is a sushi bar. You’re there, you’re hungry. Food is passing by. What you grab is up to you. And you inherently know when to stop.
Finally are you happy?
I’m happy yes—but like all of us here on earth sometimes I have doubts and sometimes I’m angry. The spiritual helps to make us realise how small in the scheme of things we all are—but it also makes you realise you are an essential, even if small, part of the whole universe. And finally today I’m very happy and excited because I have never been interviewed like this. I think it’s very innovative. Thank you. I look forward to seeing it in print.
Victor Calleja has been involved in publishing, marketing, and anything concerning the written word, for over thirty years. He is now a part-time but very opinionated journalist who delves deeply into a number of subjects.