How does he manage? - De-mining engineer

Bob French managing director, JR French. I first came across landmines doing my military service in Borneo in 1963.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

When did you become a manager? In 1965, when I became a senior NCO in the RAF. I first came across landmines doing my military service in Borneo in 1963. In 1995, I took out my first patents on what became Bigfoot, a machine that steps on the ground to explode mines.

What does management mean to you?

Long hours and a headache. It also means managing on the hoof. When I was researching and developing the new Bigfoot designs, I had to manage the UK board of directors, meet investors and potential users. At the same time, I had to keep going back to Bosnia to manage the testing of the machinery. I had quite a hands-on role, because it was my design and I had to say what needed modifying. I was operating the machines myself, as well as managing four expats and training up to 20 locals. Safety of my personnel is of utmost importance because de-mining is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. It's never off your mind when you're working with guys who've had pieces blown off them. Trying not to cry when you're dealing with landmine victims is really hard work.

What do you love/hate about your job?

I love trying to develop a machine that nobody has produced before, which also does a great good to people. I hate bureaucracy - people who hide behind a rule when, with the stroke of a pen, they could help people.

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