Steve Clayton, the chief storyteller at Microsoft, visits Maranello
Steve Clayton has one passion. Two passions, in fact. OK, let's make it three. Actually, the number is undefined. This is undoubtedly an advantage for someone whose trade is storytelling.
An Englishman from Liverpool (and a huge fan of the Reds), Clayton has been working for Microsoft for almost 20 years. He loved his work and, in 2007, decided to start a blog, describing company life as seen from his vantage point. The blog was beginning to be a success when, six years ago, a call came from the communications department in Seattle.
‘At first, I thought they were going to fire me,’ he says laughing. ‘Instead, they asked me to move to head office in the US and become Microsoft's “chief storyteller”.’
Clayton has been in Italy for a series of seminars and one of his requests was to visit Ferrari, one of his other passions. ‘My house is crammed with books that tell the history of Ferrari, from Enzo, to the races, all the way to the most recent models.
I developed a love for the brand when I was a seven-year-old boy and had the opportunity to ride in the 246 GT of a family friend. It was a bolt of lightning. Visiting Maranello today is a dream come true.
‘I had a close look at things beyond my imagination: the assembly line where the cars are built with incredible attention to detail, the Classic cars department, the XX Programmes and F1 cars, especially that of Gilles Villeneuve: a legend in car racing and, especially, Ferrari history. To me, this is the temple of motor cars and I am delighted to be here.’
Clayton believes that there are many similarities between Ferrari and Microsoft: ‘Technology and innovation are the goal of both companies. They both conduct ongoing research and put extreme care into each product. Only the passion of our brands' employees leads to ever-improving, winning products.’
Here, Clayton touches on another point that was part of Enzo Ferrari's philosophy. He believed that Ferrari was (and continues to be) first and foremost about people, about the Company’s workforce, rather than being simply bricks and machines.
‘Machines are becoming more important every day. They have become a crucial part of the industrial fabric and, whether one deals with cars, technological products, or software, I believe their importance will grow.
'But technology merely enhances the workers' potential, helps them work better and, in a way, better utilise the most important resource that we have in life: time, something that nobody will ever be able to invent.
‘Machines help us immensely in our lives and work, but will never replace workers. Without workers and their passion, our companies' products would not be what they are.’