Chris Broad has participated in the meteoric rise of technology giant Apple in three decades of captivating work since studying electronics in Southampton. He has risen to Director of Sales Contracting at Apple in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA) over a career that has combined a technological background with international business training to promote some of the most famous products of all time.
He urges staff and students to immerse themselves in the business world as they channel their talents, and is looking forward to having some fun supporting new high-tech ventures as a Future Worlds mentor.
Chris grew up in Wokingham, Berkshire, and was drawn to what he judged as the best electronic engineering department in the country when he approached his studies at the University of Southampton. He gained industrial experience with the Racal technology firm before starting his career path in an engineering training scheme at Mars Electronics.
“A big changing point in my career was the realisation I didn’t want to just be an engineer at a lab bench,” he says. “I wanted to take engineering into the wider industrial context.”
Chris chose to move to France and completed a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the INSEAD graduate business school near Paris. Having gathered more experience with Mars Electronics in the French capital, he secured a post in the city working with spare parts for Apple. He arrived in an era at the company without charismatic leader Steve Jobs, shortly after the launch of the Macintosh II.
Chris moved around the organisation to manage operational aspects for the business in Europe and jumped at the opportunity to focus on product marketing.
“Steve Jobs came back to Apple and things started to change quite quickly,” he says. “The business was almost bankrupt but on the inside it wasn’t that apparent. Steve famously decided to look at a new product which became the iMac.”
Chris worked on pricing and promotional material for the iMac as the company discarded other dysfunctional product lines. Soon, he was approached by the General Manager of Apple Europe to serve as his Chief of Staff and Chris established himself in the European management team. He went on to manage 80 staff as the tech giant introduced its product lines to the continent’s major retail chains as well as a new online store.
“That’s when the dream period began,” Chris says. “Apple was turning round and the European management team was building the organisation as it brought to market the incredible products we all know and love today. The iPod changed everything in many ways. I remember Steve Jobs saying at a meeting that the iPod is important because it makes Apple look 20 years younger. Suddenly we were popular with youth as well as bearded 50-year-old graphic designers.”
Chris challenges people to think about their wider context as they plan five years ahead in their career. He says professionals should reflect on what industry they’d like to be in, where they would like to live and what sort of people they like working with, rather than simply pondering their next potential job. He feels students would do well to look for placements in industry and consider learning another language to gain some experience abroad.
“Things go very quickly,” he says. “It’s better to be moving in the right direction and constantly reassessing your position than getting stuck on the wrong track.”
Chris believes there is great value in having an expanding network of contacts and urges aspiring entrepreneurs to have the confidence to get their name out there by attending events.
Chris has rich experience in the sales and organisational areas of business, and is prepared to share his expertise to help startups structure their enterprises better, run effectively and market their services well. You can get in touch with Chris using the contact form on this page.
“I’m hoping that being a Future Worlds mentor will give me the opportunity to have some fun working with some really smart people on some interesting projects where I can contribute and help to move things along,” he says.
Chris knows a lot of people who are experts in many different areas and he is ready and willing to make new connections to help promote the innovative ideas that are being created at Southampton.