A life in the day of... Robert Barlow, CEO, WireIE
Robert Barlow admits his typical working day can be a little bit different from other telecoms CEOs. His company, WireIE, focusses on providing connectivity to rural areas in Canada, and Barlow dedicates a great deal of his time to collaborating with local communities – or as he likes to call it “grass roots work”.
“We strategise around how we’re going to add value to these communities, talk about who we’re going to meet next and plan our approaches to certain communities,” he says.
To develop his business, Barlow travels to some of the most remote parts of Canada using private chartered planes. Some of the communities are so remote, that it can be a challenge even finding airstrips that are long enough and maintained to a necessary level for landing. Once safely there, his team often have to rely on satellite phones for contact with the outside world.
WireIE places a strong focus on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and during his visits to remote communities, Barlow occasionally visits local schools and provides them with laptops. If he isn’t visiting the countryside, Barlow otherwise finds himself in the city, liaising with investors in Toronto’s financial district and keeping them up to speed with the status of the various projects the company is working on.
Barlow enjoys being a part of WireIE’s social activities, with the company’s executives holding a monthly get together after work. WireIE also hosts lunches for its team for achieving certain milestones and holds several annual events including a Christmas party and a charity golf tournament.
After work Barlow likes to spend time with his wife and two children or unwind in the gym. In the winter, he enjoys downhill skiing and frozen lake fishing, while in the summer he swaps to mountain biking and water skiing. “Canada is a world of fishing. If you fly in the north you see more lakes than you do land sometimes,” he jokes.
Barlow finds one of the most rewarding aspects of his job is helping rural communities realise economic growth through the services his company provides.
“Being a founder and entrepreneur is very rewarding and something that I take very seriously as an opportunity to do something good,” he says.