TONY Togulu is the chief executive of internet service provider Powernet, which has its head office in Midsummer Boulevard, Central Milton Keynes.
Tony tells us what makes him and his business tick.
Date of birth:
January 3, 1964 (Capricorn)
Town where you live:
What are your business qualifications?
Trained as an accountant
Do you think business leadership can be taught or is it something that comes from a natural instinct?
It’s generally comes from natural instinct, but you are never too old to learn and take advice. Certainly this old dog can learn new tricks.
What is the name of your main business and what does it do?
Power Internet Limited. We are the UK’s oldest ISP and our main services are Wide Area Networks (WANS) and Business Internet Connectivity and Solutions.
What was the turnover of your main business in the last reporting period?
Where would you like the business to be in 10 years time?
We have been around for over 15 years and are confident about the future generally. Powernet success has always been driven by genuinely new and different technical innovation and the ability to adapt to market trends and client requirements. If we can keep to these sound principles we should do well over the next 10 years.
What positives can you extract from current economic conditions?
We are winning a lot of work from the large Telco’s and Corporates as businesses become worn down by poor customer service and sky high pricing.
It’s generally tough out there, but Powernet are doing very well at the moment. A lot of businesses have gone bust so there is opportunity for the better run and financed organisations such as us.
What motivates you to get up in the morning and go to work?
My parents came over to England from Italy in the early 50s hoping for a better life for them and their family. They did well and installed a good work ethic into me and I believe this is my motivation both at home and in my business life.
What is the most important thing in life and why?
I come from a big Italian family, and they are easily the most important thing in life. But I also think that being a good corporate citizen is important, so looking after staff, clients and suppliers is key.
At what age do you aim to retire and what will you do after that point?
I fear I never will... as I work all the time and love it.
If you have a partner, what do they do:
My wife (of 24 years) is my PA, accountant, nanny, bank manager and occasional cab driver. Other than that she doesn’t work.
What is the most important thing you learned at school?
You always remember the name of your favourite teacher. For me it was a Mrs Hartop who I hated for three years for being so strict and making me sit at the front of the class. But she saw I had raw talent and helped me get a grade A in maths, and since that day I realised just how great a teacher she was.
What one subject should be placed on the curriculum?
Have you ever had to sack someone on the spot and why?
80 per cent of staff are an inspiration and we have many staff who have been with us over 10 years.
The trouble is the other 20 per cent of staff who feel that it’s quite acceptable to lie, deceive and be utterly lazy or selfish.
You just need to get rid of these people ASAP, before they impact the business and other staff members.
What percentage of your success is inspiration?
Some days you have inspiration in bucket loads and some days nothing seems to click. I find going for a brisk walk helps clear the mind. Just don’t give up... the answer will come eventually.
What percentage of your success is perspiration?
There are times when ‘’flying by the seat of your pants’’ is the only option. Working hard is essential, but being smart is the real key. There are times when I cringe at things I did previously, especially in the early days, but hopefully you learn from your mistakes.
Who is your inspiration in business and why?
I’ve got many past and present business mentors. There are probably three or four people I have coffees with regularly, whom I can really talk to and seek advice. I keep my real friends very very close and am quite protective about them.
What time do you get up on a working day?
I get into the office 7am every day.
How do you switch off and relax?
If you ask my wife I don’t. But I am trying and spending time with my family is probably the best way.
How do you measure business success?
Unfortunately money is probably the best gauge of business success. It’s a tad crude, but money is a good barometer of how successful you have been business wise.
What is your favourite piece of business jargon and why?
“It’s not over till the fat lady sings’’. I have managed to stop many a fat lady sing over the years.
What is the most pointless piece of red tape you’ve had to deal with?
A lot of employment and health and safety laws drive me to despair but keep my solicitor happy.
Where does your confidence come from?
My mum and four older sisters.
How do you ensure that people don’t go to sleep in meetings?
A good kick under the table seems to do the trick.