Since his childhood, Christopher Bray has thrived in different cultures across the globe. Bray, senior vice president at Intel Security (formerly McAfee), was born in Germany and spent his youth living wherever his father’s position in academia took his family, including Tajikistan, among other international destinations.
“My exposure to other cultures has really influenced my curiosity for other languages and customs,” Bray says. “I have a genuine desire to figure out how to thrive in a different environment and learning about other people’s ways of doing things.”
What he learned has paid off for him throughout his career in terms of building relationships that lead to sales.
“What translates universally across cultures are the simplest things,” he adds. “Listening to someone. Laughing with someone. Rolling up your sleeves and digging into a project with someone. These personal experiences build relationships.”
Today, Bray puts his multicultural background to use at Intel Security, with global responsibility for the company’s consumer PC OEM, ISP/telecommunications/mobile, and retail businesses. Bray earned his MBA at the University of Texas at Austin, Texas, but he started his career with McAfee in South Africa.
“The reason I ended up there was my girlfriend got a job offer in Johannesburg,” Bray explains. “She decided to take the job, and I decided to follow her.” Bray’s capacity for risk-taking paid off. Not only did he get the girl — today, she is his wife — but he also landed a job with McAfee, where he was responsible for sub-Saharan African business.
“I stayed in that position for several years until McAfee asked me if I would be interested in taking a new position in Austin,” Bray says. “The job was to run McAfee’s relationship with Dell on a global basis, making sure that our software would be the preferred software installed on Dell computers across the globe.”
Global and Local:
Although he’s a senior-level executive for the world’s largest dedicated security technology company, Bray remains humble about his achievements. “My philosophy is that if you start off being assigned to make coffee, then make the best coffee possible,” he says. “If you want to get to the next level, do your absolute best at your current job.” Despite Bray’s global experience, he emphasizes that having a local focus has led to his success.
“My global experience has taught me that there is nothing that can replace face time,” he says. “You can’t run a global business with conference calls and spreadsheets. You have to get out and meet people. When you have a structured conference call with a crisp agenda, there are nuances, opportunities, and challenges that won’t come out in that type of a format. No matter how sophisticated technology gets, the fact is we’re still human beings,” Bray says.
Finding Quality Time:
Bray places a lot of emphasis on the quality time he spends with his family. He and his wife’s two daughters, ages 12 and 14, bring them much joy and laughter, he says. “I believe that finding a balance between work and home life is necessary for a successful career,” Bray says. “One of the things I am very adamant about is scheduling time off. I’ll travel to the ends of the earth during the week, but it’s very rare that I’ll schedule time during a vacation or on the weekends.”
In his spare time, Bray says, he enjoys racing motorcycles and tinkering in his garage. He is also passionate about health and fitness. “I think it’s really important to get the right amount of balance, the right amount of exercise, and the right nutrition,” Bray says. “This will enable you to feed the cycle of health, happiness, and productivity.”
Bray’s bigger-picture perspective, which has brought him good fortune both at home and in his role as SVP at an enterprise level, provides a refreshing road map for those who hope to mimic his success.
How to Slay Your Number in 2016
Are you going to make your number in 2016?
If you are not sure but would really like to know, turn to page 46 and read our feature titled “How to Make Your Number in 2016.” Here, we summarize the primary findings from SBI’s ninth-annual research project, which captures what the best of the best are doing to exceed their revenue targets.