My Way: Bordan Tkachuk gives his tips for success in the workplace

'Be honest in your CV - or we'll find out'


Bordan Tkachuk is the chief executive officer of Viglen, the IT company that is owned by Sir Alan Sugar, with whom Tkachuk has appeared as a semi-final stage judge in The Apprentice

What did you want to be as a child?

A racing driver, but I didn't have the funds.

What did you realistically think you'd end up doing?

Technology always appealed to me, so I did an HND in computer science and then carried on in the computer-programming field, working for an oil service company. Then I got the travel bug, and in the late Seventies moved to Australia and started a small computer dealership.

What did you need to set up on your own?

Courage and blind naivety. It was the beginnings of the PC market and I made a living but it wasn't very successful. When Commodore bought the company, I became their sales and marketing director. In those days it was all new territory and understanding the technology was an important skill. The company grew rapidly, and when the MD left, I took over. Then Amstrad approached me to help them set up in Australia, and I became sales and marketing director.

Was that a step down?

It was a step across. There were only three of us at Amstrad Australia to begin with. We started with nothing and ended with 20 per cent of the PC market. Only Apple outsold us. We took advantage of the emerging consumer market and used Saatchi & Saatchi to grow the brand. Then Amstrad needed me back in the UK and I became MD here.

Do you consider yourself successful?

Yes, as successful as I hoped I would be. Do I enjoy what I do? Yes. Do I get fulfilment from it? Yes. Am I financially rewarded? Not as much as I would like!

Did you ever think you'd end up on TV?

No! Sir Alan said, "I've got something quite fun for you." I thought about it and discussed it with my family and said I wasn't sure. Sir Alan said, "Look, I'm really not asking you..."

Have you ever been fired from a job?

Not yet. Sir Alan's still got the chance.

What tips can you give for interviews?

If you're going for a sales role, first you need to sell yourself to the company, so you need to know who you are selling yourself to. Look at the company website, find out who the competitors are, what the products are, the market size. Or ring the company and ask the marketing department to send you brochures.

And your CV tips?

It needs to be readable, with no typographical errors. Be honest with your skills and don't try to bluff your way through, because we'll find out.

How do I get to be where you are?

Perseverance. Working your way up through an organisation is very important. Have passion and a belief in yourself; make mistakes and learn from them. A degree is a good foundation, but sticking with something and gaining skills is just as important.

What's the best perk of your job?

Being able to run an autocratic democracy. I enjoy listening to people, but I really enjoy making the ultimate decision.

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