BACKSTORY: Montblanc Africa’s Alain dos Santos
We question regional MD of Montblanc Africa Alain dos Santos
With which historical figure do you most identify?
Vasco da Gama. He was an explorer and pioneer who travelled into the unknown with courage and a determination to break boundaries. I hope to do the same while representing Montblanc in Africa.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I’m quite a good dancer.
What’s the worst airport you’ve been in?
St Barts airport in the Caribbean.
How do you deal with stress? What are your top tips for handling stress?
Chocolate. Dark chocolate.
What was your first job?
Getting up at 4am to sell fruit and vegetables in a market in Albi, my home city in the southwest of France. I was 14 years old and got a summer job to earn vacation pocket money.
What is your biggest regret?
I regret not learning enough when I was at school. It has meant working so much harder later in life!
What is the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
Buying Google stock. I remember reading an article on the poor investment potential of Google when it first listed — ah, how wrong that was.
What’s the one book everyone should read before they die?
Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. It is a novel with profound meaning and is as pertinent today as it was when it was written 75 years ago. The themes of relationships, imagination and the sharing of ideas are timeless.
On what occasion do you lie?
When to do otherwise would create unnecessary conflict and tension.
Which phrase or word do you most overuse?
Alors! It’s the Frenchman in me.
Which living person do you most admire?
Probably Bill and Melinda Gates. What they are doing to help improve the lives of millions of people around the world, and engaging others to do the same, is admirable.
Nominate your eighth wonder of the world.
There are two, both in Brazil: Iguazú Falls and the Rio de Janeiro carnival.
What is your biggest indulgence?
Eating at three-star Michelin restaurants.
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Smile. That way you establish the frame and tone of the interaction.