John Powell is president and chief executive of open source firm Alfresco and has 25 years' enterprise of software sales and operations, with much of it in proprietary software companies.
Powell began his career in the software industry as a sales manager at Oracle where he worked until 1991. He was then hired by Business Objects to start up its UK operations, before being put in charge of the firm's Europe's operations and taking the role as chief operating officer.
Before Business Objects was acquired by SAP for $6.8bn, Powell left to co-found an enterprise software company called Activiti. Soon after, in 2005, Alfresco was founded, as Powell's first open source venture. Alfresco offers customers an open source alternative to proprietary enterprise content management software.
V3: What would be your dream job (apart from your current role, of course)?
John Powell: Establishing a civic startup. It would be interesting to run a startup similar to today's opinion poll companies that makes greater use of the internet and social media to engage with citizens about political issues. The aim would be to
engage with people, inspire them to participate directly in the democratic process and consult with them on a broad range of political issues. In this way, government could, for example, formulate policies based on popular consensus rather than announce something dreamt up by a privileged few - like taxes on pasties and caravans - that eventually leads to a humiliating u-turn.
Which mobile phone and tablet do you currently use?
I use an iPhone 4 and iPad 2 because they are easy to integrate. They run the same applications and automatically synchronise with one another, saving me a lot of time and effort.
Which person do you most admire in the IT industry?
Lars Bjork, the chief executive of Qliktech. He has taken a European software company public on Nasdaq. By embracing diverse cultural values he has created
a strong, multicultural identity for his company. Such values and high integrity resonate well with Alfresco and its open source principles.
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