UK: My Other Side - Bonsignore's way to the inner man.

UK: My Other Side - Bonsignore's way to the inner man. - Honeywell's chairman and CEO, Michael Bonsignore, tells Rhymer Rigby of his passion for Puccini, mariachi and all things marine.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Honeywell's chairman and CEO, Michael Bonsignore, tells Rhymer Rigby of his passion for Puccini, mariachi and all things marine.

'I'm gonna throw a real curve ball at ya here,' drawls Honeywell's boss. 'I have two musical favourites - and they both end in "i".' The first, Puccini's La Boheme ('the pinnacle of music') is exactly the kind of thing you would expect to find in the chairman's CD rack. His second terminal 'i' musical choice is a little different: Michael Bonsignore, it transpires, is equally happy listening to mariachi, the music of the central American streets.

'I lived in Mexico for three years and have a great affinity for the place. Mariachi is probably the happiest music in the world - it's all about horses and women - it's just great music.' Bonsignore is particularly keen on Vargas, a group hailing from just outside Mexico City, and that Tex-Mex crooner, Linda Ronstadt, who makes extensive use of mariachi accompaniment on her albums.

'South of the border' interests are not, however, confined to up-tempo music. His choice of adult book is The Ascent of Man, based on the BBC series of the same name. Within this, the civilisations that fascinate him most are the Aztecs and the Mayans, the pyramid-building peoples of central America: 'These people had an extraordinarily sophisticated society with a great knowledge of astronomy and medicine, yet we in the modern world tend to regard them as primitives.'

He believes (their penchant for human sacrifice notwithstanding) that, compared to their European counterparts, these peoples are much under-rated: 'I mean, the Greeks and the Romans have been written about for so long but these civilisations really were extraordinary.' Taken as a whole, Bonsignore says, The Ascent of Man shows us that, while we often become bogged down with incremental progress, enormous leaps are possible if someone has enough will and conviction. 'I relate to this every day in terms of my own company and I think CEOs need to think about this.'

But not all Bonsignore's outside interests lie on dry land - there is a part of him that is forever at sea. He is a great fan of diving and underwater photography, a passion that is reflected in his second choice of book, Jacques Cousteau's The Silent World: 'It really formed all my interests in the sea, which continue to burn brightly in my mind.' Likewise, his cinematic choice has a marine theme - this is The Big Blue, Jean-Luc Besson's dreamy, atmospheric underwater opus about the exploits of two fiercely competitive divers.

'It's just an awesome piece of film. I think it creates a unique visual perspective. I can imagine people in a rut, coming into the office every day and looking at their job from the same perspective - the perspective needs to change; the optics need to change.' Reading, music and film, he explains, allows you to get back to the 'inner man'. Which is vital, because it is from inside that inspiration comes, 'not from all this conditioned behaviour that we have to live with in our professional lives'.

It is all too easy, continues Bonsignore, to forget about extracurricular activities 'and suddenly we're at retirement. We haven't read or developed any hobbies - we haven't inspired ourselves. Y'know, I think that would be a tragedy.' Fortunately, he is more than willing to share his inspiration with others and I look forward to the Mariachi CD he has promised to send me.

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