Our OB this month is Mat Ellis (Du. 1984-89), founder and CEO of Cloudability. Prior to Cloudability, Mat held executive positions with four startups, and key technology roles at Frito-Lay, Pepsi Cola and Goldman Sachs. Originally from the UK and now residing in Portland, Mat is well known as a mentor and advisor to startups across the US.
When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?
I have always wanted to build and run some kind of business ever since I was a boy. Those of you who knew me at the time will attest to that!
What do you do now, and what does your job involve?
I build and run businesses, so I guess I got to do what I wanted when I was younger. I’m currently Founder & CEO at Cloudability, which I’ve been running since 2011. As CEO I decide on the fundamental direction and strategy of the company and manage the executives who run each department. I also do a fair bit of public speaking about what we do and why it’s important.
What are the most rewarding and challenging parts of your job?
That would definitely be the people side of my work. We have a very skilled and dynamic workforce, and figuring out how to support and grow them is very important. It’s very rewarding to see our people advance in their careers. And the most challenging side is also people, it is a constant focus of mine to try and be a better leader every day.
What are you most proud of so far?
We estimate our work has resulted in over a billion dollars in cash savings. That’s one billion dollars more for salaries and investment, and one billion dollars less environmental impact. It’s really satisfying to be able to point to a really big number and say “we did that”.
What is your fondest memory of school?
So many. I still have a vivid memory of walking off the Home Ground after an epic rugby game that we squeaked a win and thinking how many other boys had experienced the same feeling. It made me feel very connected to the College’s past.
Who was your favourite teacher and why?
I was fortunate enough to spend a year in a very small History set with Norman Frith. Chris Hatcher (Latin), Matthew Prideaux (Chemistry), Graham Le Tissier (Maths), Chris Spencer (Cricket) and of course the Sergeant Major all get honourable mentions too.
What was the best piece of advice you were given whilst at Brighton?
I can’t recall a specific phrase, it was more of the attitude of accountability that I really feel made the most difference in the 30 years since I left. I recall a board meeting where the day before my computer just died. There was no option to turn up without the presentation, so I found a laptop and made the meeting without ever thinking maybe we should reschedule. I credit the College for that and it’s been a huge help in both my business and personal life.
What advice would you give to your 18 year old self?
Slow down and enjoy yourself a bit more. There’s plenty of time to succeed.
Is there a book, song or film that changed your life?
Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer.