Having parents in the oil industry meant Laurent Junique had had to live in a different country every two years, since he was four. But the French national finally decided that Singapore would be where he would make his fortune, and he did. The 53-year-old is the CEO of Teledirect, a provider of business process services and the Asia-Pacific’s leading outsourced contact centre, which has grown from a modest local outfit to a global player, with 5,500 staff and offices in eight countries. With its latest outpost set up in Spain, Junique, EY Entrepreneur of the Year for Outsourced Solutions, has his sights set on the European market.
DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR?
I was always an entrepreneur at heart. I had my first business idea when I was 13. I wanted to start a glass processing outfit where people could melt old bottles and recycle them into things like wine glasses. The idea would be relevant today but, back then, nobody seemed to care about recycling. After working at Unilever in France for two years, I decided to pack a suitcase and move to Singapore and try my luck. I’m a bit of an adventurer and I wasn’t into the corporate lifestyle, so I decided to set up my own business.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE ONE?
Resilience, trustworthiness, integrity, innovation, team spirit and courage. This last trait is important because it all starts with you saying you want to try. And when you fail, it’s a sign you should try again. I’ve had an amazing amount of setbacks but optimism kept me going. I’m always hoping and dreaming and wishing, but I also work to make things happen. You have to force luck.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A NEW HIRE?
Greatness. I’m not afraid to hire someone expensive if I can see that they have a lot of value, and they don’t have to be conventional choices. I can follow someone for years until they decide to join us. I chased our current country director for Malaysia for 10 years. When he had a falling out with his company, I was ready to pounce.
IF YOU COULD UNPLUG FOR A DAY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
I’d go to the beach in the south of France and play a little guitar. The company recently set up a music room in the office. We have five beautiful guitars, a keyboard and four or five amplifiers so our employees can jam to unwind. It also doubles as a karaoke room. It’s probably the busiest room in the office. We hire people of many different nationalities but music brings everyone together.
YOUR CHRISTMAS GIFT TO YOURSELF?
On the 25th anniversary of Teledirect, I received a bottle of 1995 Duval-Leroy champagne, the year we started the company. It’s my favourite champagne and I found two bottles of the 1996 vintage that I plan to open this Christmas. But I’m more into memories than physical things. A holiday would be best. I wouldn’t even need a camera, the images will be saved in my mind.
LAURENT JUNIQUE’S TOP 3 APPS
More than 70 to 80 per cent of my Facebook friends are my employees and I like seeing what they’re up to. They know how to have a good time but they also work very hard.
I’ve become more sensitive with age so I find most news too depressing. I prefer finance news now, because it’s unemotional.
I designed my office and my house with ideas from Pinterest. When we work with designers, I tell them to look at the mood boards I’ve created so they can see what my inspirations are and what I like.