The key to Button’s personality probably lies in his love of maths. “I graduated from University College Oxford in 1979 with a First. Mathematics has always been an abiding interest: I enjoy the application of logic that it demands, and the satisfaction that comes from solving intricate problems is immense.”
His interest in numbers led him to Arthur Andersen, with whom he qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1982. “At that point I wanted to apply myself to a wider field and joined Kleinwort Benson where I spent 17 years in corporate finance. You can smile at the Alex strip in the Daily Telegraph but have a large pinch of salt handy …
“It was immensely satisfying. I was involved with company flotations, mergers and acquisitions.
“Of course, not all M&A activity goes well, but it does signal a dynamic economy. Consolidation into leaner, fitter organisations leads quickly to greater efficiencies, maximises economies of scale and generally meets investors’ expectations of increasing returns.”
In May 2000 Peter Button changed tack to assume an operational role when he was appointed CEO of WIN.
“WIN had been founded in 1996 by Mark Charlton, John Rands and Peter Norman and I relished the opportunity to lead a quoted technology company from its early stages to fulfilling growth.
“WIN has two principal activities. On the one hand we provide custom built data services to mobile networks; and on the other we offer a platform for third-party content providers to run applications and bill for their services. Typically, those services include ringtones and chat programmes.
"I am confident that the next
big thing will be video, news clips and MMS …"
“The platform is used by broadcast media and press – if you are an Arsenal fan and want news of the latest goal, it’s our service that will deliver it.”
And what’s coming next? “I am confident that the next big thing will be video, news clips and MMS.”
The trend in WIN’s growth is northwards but unexpected hazards occur. “The kind of thing you can never plan for occurred a few months ago on our trading estate site in High Wycombe. The main communications link on the estate was vandalised and we had a few days’ downtime. The target was a Sat Nav company; we were, as the military say, collateral damage.
Relief from business pressures comes from golf and Sudoku. “I’ll rest content when I’ve played every challenging course in the country. I play off 15 – which is handy in a Stableford – and the sites of golf courses play a big part in choosing holiday destinations.
“It affects foreign travel, too. My wife has caught my enthusiasm and we love South Africa. There is a course on the edge of the Kruger National Park where wild life has open access. It’s the most amazing experience to drive off towards a giraffe ambling down the fairway. Fortunately, I haven’t surprised a black mamba when I’ve been lining up a six-foot putt …”
Mathematics comes to his rescue when he tackles Sudoku. “It’s a good reason to buy The Times – especially for the Killer version on Saturday. I usually get it out but I can’t complete it as quickly as Clement Attlee is said to have managed the crossword. He, apparently, took about ten minutes. I
take longer – but then, it’s a different kind
More restful escapism is found in classical music and cinema. “I lose myself in The Lord of the Rings – a great way to recharge the batteries.” More physical release is found in the garden, where “I act as indentured
labour under my wife’s direction.”
Now Button thinks he has found the perfect work/life balance. “If I cut my handicap by three and double WIN’s revenues, my contented smile would
probably be painful."
Graduated with First Class Honours in Mathematics from University College, Oxford
Qualified as Chartered Accountant with Arthur Andersen
Corporate financier specialising in flotations and M&A with Kleinwort Benson
CEO of WIN Plc – specialist provider of data services to mobile networks and third party content providers