Joining a successful start-up

Jean-Charles Labbat will soon have 30 years’ experience on the clock. And our reporter noted how many “successfuls” were mentioned in a one-hour interview. Jean-Charles Labbat is a chatterbox - to quote his own words – but definitely is a positive thinker!

Joining a successful start-up

We talked about his time at UTC, naturally, but surprisingly the key courses he underscores were .. his language studies. “One point had a tremendous impact on my career orientation. Doing a year abroad at the end of the 1980s – at Cranfield University – was not that common and it boosted my self-confidence no end”. This double degree education made his jump to the USA easier, 3 years after entering the job market, with IBM Inc. aka ‘Big Blue’. The only “Frenchy” in the land of Uncle Sam, at Boston with an SME that was developing faster than the US dinosaur IBM itself. Jean-Charles became (or made himself) indispensable. What better way to keep your head not only above water but also above the other 200 000 employees of the ‘Big Blue’ (Armonk, NY)?

IBM, followed by Cisco: for some 20 years, Jean-Charles Labbat did the rounds of some famous brand-name companies, names that make young engineers dream … even if, when we graduate, we do not fully realize, what the scope of their activities is”, he recalls. The two decades referred to led him from manufacturing to sales in mega-structured companies before he joined a middle-sized Israeli company, specialists in selling computer science and EDP security solutions. Radware France only has a dozen or so employees. Why this size choice? “Because we enjoy taking risks”, explains the CE Regional Director. “And also to have direct contacts with the senior managers at the Home Office in Tel Aviv, something you cannot do when employed in major groups. And another obvious interest is that the wide range of responsibilities we handle is varied and evolves in a booming market context.” And Jean-Chales Labbat proudly adds that the company is listed on NASDAQ! “It is more important to be average in a booming business that excellent in a mature market-place”.

Adaptability and pragmatism are assuredly two extra qualities in the UTC training scheme, as Jean-Charles Labbat sees it and absolutely vital if you want to “join in” and evolve. “Technology per se is moving fast, very fast”, he adds. “Everything our young undergrads learn today will be obsolete in just a few years’ time. Hence the advantage in having an adaptable, general training profile.” Right, I heard “adaptable”, correct? It is a leitmotiv in Jean-Charles’ descriptions. “Before Internet, we sold products with an evangelistic sales patter package; the customer’s project was of little interest to us. Today, they can find all the technical specs on the Net. So what is our job then? We have to answer the question –will our product fit in with the costumer’s system and needs? Client service and accompaniment are precious. And what about tomorrow, you may ask? Markets are undergoing a new change, with a pendular swing back to development. If you are skilled in programming, then that will prove a great advantage for you over the next 5 to 10 years.”