HB The fun part - I imagine that's something that attracted you to Graviton, the technology. It was voted one of the cool companies. Does it bear any similarities to Orange?
TRUJILLO Absolutely. If you travel to the U.K., you'll find Orange is one of the cool companies in the market. It has won J.D. Power awards, all kind of recognition awards as one of the most unique brands in Europe. So it is a fun company, but more importantly, it has a history early in its life of being an innovative company. That's what I like - creating new services for customers and a new experience.
I want to go back to your question about what does Hispanic heritage have to do with this. I've always said, since I took on a corporate career, I feel my heritage is an advantage. Because I'm a very competitive person, and when you have to work hard - in some cases work harder - for what you achieve, it builds a work ethic, so you always feel you have to work extra, give extra, give your customers extra, serve your investors more value.
It also helps me in the sense that I can relate [to people]. I've had lots of job offers over the last few years, to run a lot of different kinds of big companies in the U.S. and Europe. I had one European actually ask me, "Sol, would you be interested in running this company?" I said no. I told him, "I'm an American. You don't have a history of bringing in Americans. Why me?" He said, "You are unique." I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "You're not typical. You appreciate other cultures, you can move into other cultures, and you can deal with people differently than most other [executives] I've run into."
I attribute that to the fact that I've always believed in diversity, because of my own experience and what I've observed over the years. It is an advantage. So I can go into France, Switzerland, the U.K., Thailand - wherever we operate - and I look for people's best, as opposed to their limitations. That's an advantage when you try to lead a global company.
HB Why do you think France Telecom chose an American for what seems a very Euro-centric job?
TRUJILLO Clearly, Thierry Breton, the new CEO and chairman of France Telecom, knew me when he ran Thompson.
HB Is that a German company?
TRUJILLO No, it's French. But it's global because it sells a lot of electronics around the world. He asked me, and at first I said no, because I love it here. But he was fairly persuasive. He thought I would be the right person at the right time to work with the strong French culture, the strong U.K. culture, and the other cultures in the company.
I've learned since then that in France you need a special permit to be a CEO of French publicly traded company. When I got my permit, I found out I'm the first American to be CEO of a CAC 40 company. [Editor's note: The CAC 40 is an index for the Bourse de Paris, or Paris stock exchange, equivalent to the Dow-Jones Industrial Index in the U.S.]
HB The idea of an American leading a French company at this time - is it a challenge?
TRUJILLO I get this question almost every day.
HB I would imagine.
TRUJILLO I would say it's no different than at any other point in time. People in business are proud of their companies, they want their companies to succeed. And customers want the company that provides the best service, the best value, the best capabilities. Those core principles are the same whether it's during difficult geopolitical times or non-difficult times. I would say we're doing fine. I was looking for a little of that [anti-French sentiment], but I haven't seen one iotTrujillo Part of it may have to do with who I am and my personality.
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