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Man Versus Wild: Meet Brad Cook, Global Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Informatica

Posted on September 14, 2010
Filed Under Australia, Global Staffing Perspectives, Interviews | 2 Comments

Brad Cook lives the life of an Iconic Figure. From Mount Everest, the temples of Peru, the Pyramids of Egypt and beyond …. he is the super hero without donning the cape. He departs Oz for the wilds of the Bay Area. Yes, a Hefty Tale …. but grandiose is what Brad Cook Breathes for lunch. Chuck Norris has a challenger who can win a Yak Butter eating contest.


• Brad Cook
• Global Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Informatica
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• Specialties:
Global Talent Acquisition; Talent Management; Building high-performing teams; Leadership; Managing for results; Service P/L Management; Innovation in service delivery; Optimizing organizations; Contract negotiation; Sales strategies; Strategic Planning; Transformational Change; Sales Leadership; New Business Start-Up; Innovation & Creativity; People Management; Field Sales Management; Global Operations; Global Change Management.

Brad Cook is the Global Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Informatica. Brad delivers Global Staffing initiatives that contribute to the achievement of the business goals. He presently resides in Sydney, Australia but is in the process of relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area. His specialized expertise is in the development and implementation of global staffing strategies (Americas, EMEA, Asia Pac & Japan). Previously, Brad served as Director, Global Staffing Candidate Selection Practice at Cisco Systems and advanced from prior specialization in Global Talent Acquisition and World-Wide Change Management. At Cisco, His career achievements are numerous and worth mentioning:

• Responsible for leading, developing and implementing a highly successful global “Manager Hiring and Interview Skills” e-learning program for 10,000 managers
• Successful implementation of a global recruitment system(Virtual Edge) on time and within budget, to 10,000 managers, 55,000 employees, 2800 recruiting agencies, and 480 recruiters
• Redesign and implementation of Cisco’s global employee referrals program – with a subsequent increase of referrals from 18% to 32%
• Led the design of the recruitment model to support Cisco’s entry into the Emerging Markets theatre, including building the Latin America function from the ground up within 60 days
• The training comprises of 11 modules covering behavioral-based interviewing, inclusion and diversity, interviewing within the law and the global talent landscape
• Completion of an initiative to design guidelines and processes to enable the implementation of psychometric assessments, including vendor management and legal due diligence
• Leadership of an initiative focused on prototype pre-hire assessment processes to provide the foundation for future competency-based models and assessments
• Leadership of multiple global recruitment system (Virtual Edge) enhancement projects to ensure company compliance and deliver process improvements
Consolidate a single focused client facing Talent Acquisition team comprising global Talent Acquisitions Managers (TAM’s), local recruiters and an operational team to support a global staffing process.
• Reengineered the global recruiting vendor business models to ensure Cisco goals and objectives were met and or exceeded.
• Led and managed a direct team of 18 and indirect team of 190 recruiters, sourcers and coordinators
• Implement operational best practices around the measuring of critical staffing metrics
• Creation of the a new “Why Cisco recruiting Campaign” along with redesigning the Cisco external jobs page for greater candidate impact.

He has covered the most difficult terrain of the wilds to the highest reaches of the world and curiosity will add places further to conquer. As Brad ventures to America on his latest mission to build talent acquisition excellence at Informatica, he looks forward to it with the same confidence and wonder of another terrain to make familiar. The Bay Area may never be the same with this adventurer’s infectious question “what next and what more can be done?”


Brad Cook Pick’s: Hunter by Dido

Q&A with Brad Cook

Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.

BRAD: My home world is always exciting! Just recently my wife & I have completed a major renovation on our home. The end result is awesome – very well worth the time and effort we put into in the design, planning and construction stages. Having a wife as an interior designer has been a huge advantage for the project, even though it meant lots more changes and re-evaluations throughout the process.


I have been married to my lovely wife Jana for close to 9 happy years now. We met just after the millennium at a personal development course.….funnily enough we were both there in order to let go of any old baggage left over from our previous relationships. It has truly been a wonderful and exciting 9 years. Jana was working for Qantas Long Haul as a Flight attendant, so everyone automatically asks if we met on a plane! I was lucky enough to be Jana’s travel buddy which allowed me to enjoy the perks of staff travel. Once I got to go on safari in Kruger National Park in South Africa, and the round trip from Sydney only cost me $300! I remember that trip fondly as one of my most favorite adventures abroad.

in 2002, just after the 1st bubble burst we moved to San Jose, CA as I was transferred to work at Cisco HQ. , We spent a wonderful 5 years enjoying all of the delights in the San Francisco Bay area, such as regular trips to the Napa Valley, Yosemite, Road trips to the Grand Canyon & Las Vegas, as well as extensive travel throughout the USA, Mexico and Peru.. It was during this time, that Jana went back to school to complete her Interior design qualifications, which has certainly, come in handy with all of our home renovation projects.

Anyway, in 2005 it was time to pack up the expat bags and head back to Sydney, which we now consider to be our home again (well for the near distant future anyway!). We love Sydney with its great multicultural environment – great cuisines, top Aussie wines and plenty of diversity to satisfy anyone’s needs. Sydney Harbor and all of the beautiful waterways are truly magnificent, and we also spend many a weekend out boating on our boat. We haven’t been blessed with children, so I supposed that makes us DINKS? Just joking! We are, however, the proud “parents” of Jones, a beautiful Golden retriever who turns 11 in September this year. The reason his name is Jones is because he had an older brother Indy – yep – you guessed it – they were named after one of my favorite movie series “Indiana & Jones”. Sadly Indy passed away a few months back, so only the younger half of the duo is left. Now that we are all through the grieving period for Indy, Jones is starting to quite enjoy being the centre of attention.

Six Degrees: Your pictures tell us of a life well lived. Your sense of adventure puts a whole new perspective on the typical talent acquisition executive. What compels the drive … ?

BRAD: I have always had a very strong penchant for adrenaline sports. You name it: parachuting, bungee jumping, extreme mountain bike riding, scuba diving, just to name a few. It’s all about the rush that you get from putting it all on the line, making you feel alive & totally present in each moment. Living in the US offered an abundance of world-class mountain bike riding opportunities – I used to head out with the guys every Sunday up into the hills around Palo Alto and totally ripped it up. Another great passion of mine is adventure travel to exotic destinations world-wide. My most rewarding, yet difficult trip was trekking to Mt Everest Base Camp. I wasn’t fully prepared for just how physically, mentally and emotionally challenging it would be. To cut a long story short, I found myself being air lifted out of Pheriche at an altitude of 4600m by helicopter with HACE (high altitude Cerebral Edema) AKA swelling of the brain, which had quickly turned very nasty, and I found myself fighting for my life. If it wasn’t for the seven Sherpa’s who carried me down through the middle of the night by strapping me to their backs using a humble plastic outdoor chair, I wouldn’t have lived to tell my tale! To them, I humbly owe my life. Looking back, many have since asked me if making it to base camp was worth going through a near death experience, and every single time I answer “yes”. Why? Because I can now say with pride that I have stood at EBC, at close to 18,000ft, breathing oxygen levels only 50% of that at sea level. Seeing the top of the world from that height is one of the most incredible experiences – a trip I will never forget, and one that has truly changed my life for the better in so many ways.


Luckily my wife Jana shares my passion for travel and adventure, so when we aren’t traveling we scuba dive, hike and enjoy boating with friends on Sydney Harbour. On another note, for the past few years I have been mentoring for the Big Brother Big Sister program, run by YWCA. Kyle, my 12yo “little brother” who was introduced to me within the program, is a truly interesting and talented boy, and it really has been rewarding helping him grow, learn and discover new things in life. We catch up weekly to do activities together, such as bike riding, skateboarding, taking Jones to the beach, undertaking handyman & building projects around the house, and seeing movies. Most of all we love eating meat pies together! It really is fulfilling being there as a mentor and friend for Kyle, and I believe I have a very positive influence on his life and him on my life

Six Degrees: How many years have you been in the staffing industry?

BRAD: Now, the very interesting fact about me is that I’ve only actually been in the staffing world for the past 5 years! It was a very strategic move, as I have been able to capitalize upon my previous 26 years of Sales, Services, Global operations and change management, and integrate those into my role when I joined Staffing back in 2005. It’s been a fun and creative journey as there are so many parallels I have been able to drawn upon from my sales and operation days to make massive improvements to staffing processes, benefiting managers and candidates alike.

Six Degrees: How did you get started as a recruiter?

BRAD: Well, I first got started in staffing back in 2005 when I was asked to reconsolidate a decentralized staffing model. Since then I have been fortunate enough to play in many areas of Staffing – from global ATS implementation, to global process design and implementation as the owner of Cisco’s global candidate selection end-to-end process programs.

Six Degrees: What languages are you fluent in?

BRAD: Those that know me would tell you that I speak three languages; English, American and Australian. Those of you who know a few Aussies, will agree that we have plenty of colloquialisms, many of which we have no idea of the origin of the phrase. When living in the US it was crucial for me to adopt an American accent and learn the peculiarities of sentence phrasing and word selection over there, as my wife could only act as a translator after hours! One thing’s for sure – life’s never dull!

Six Degrees: What countries within your country are you accountable for?

BRAD: The best answer here is that I am a Global being, as during my 11 years at Cisco, 8 of those were global roles, with so many countries being within my accountability at some stage, I really can’t keep count. To be more specific, prior to Staffing I ran Business Operations for APAC, and during my time staffing I spent much time in Europe building out the Emerging markets staffing strategy with fellow local leadership. My current role as VP Global Talent Acquisition with Informatica has me back in the global footprint. I am truly looking forward to next phase of the exciting world of global talent working for Informatica, a Redwood City, Data Integration Software company, and the challenges and excitement it brings with it.

Six Degrees: How is culture a factor in the hiring practice different from other countries you recruit from?


BRAD: Great question, and one that does change country to country, and culturally also. I see the process of recruiting being 80% the same globally, whilst the last 20% provides the flavor of local personalities, local cultural norms, and how interaction with candidates differs from one country to the next. For example, in looking at a global staffing process for Cisco, there really isn’t a lot of difference in the process itself. Basically, Candidates want to be treated with respect, they want to be valued, and on the other hand managers want it all yesterday! So those things don’t really change. Where I do see major differences are in the more subtle areas, such as interviewing style and how one should interact with a person from a different culture to yourself. The way one would go about sourcing candidates also greatly differs from culture to culture, especially in Asia. This could be a story in itself, one I that I might leave aside for another time.

Six Degrees: Where is your country ahead of the USA in certain recruitment tactics?

BRAD: Having held many global roles, I have been fortunate enough to work with many different groups, and I have found that just because something works in one location, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for another. From my view point, the US is a more mature market when it comes to outsourcing or as I prefer to call it – “ In-sourcing” or “co-sourcing”. It’s the move away from traditional reliance upon agencies, towards building out an internal sourcing capability. From my experience, APAC and Europe have tended towards a higher reliance on agencies compared to the US, but I also see that is shifting. I believe that many companies outside of the US are now starting to see the business benefits and dollar saving by bringing some of the sourcing internally. Also the advent of social media is playing a large part of the new world of talent attraction. With APAC having some of the fastest growth in internet users, it will be an exciting space to watch over the next few years.

Six Degrees: What networking groups are available and influential within Your Country as a whole and within your country in particular?

BRAD: We now live in a truly global economy, so networking capabilities no longer has country boundaries, as they had in the past. Social networking tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Tweeter have made reaching out to one’s network so much easier, faster and more efficient. Each region seems to have their own favorite means of connecting with others, and it’s the ability to meet people outside of your immediate circle of influence that makes the new world of globalized social networking very exciting – this article being a perfect example! I ask the reader – how else would I ever have met Dave if it weren’t for social media?

Six Degrees: What types of training in sourcing/recruitment are available to you and have you taken advantage of?


BRAD: Training is absolutely a critical element, especially when it comes to building an internal recruiting engine. It’s so important to understand that candidates today have a choice, and what makes one company stand apart from another is the experience a candidate has during the recruiting interaction. Hence my focus within training is about setting high standards, and driving a high level of consistency so that the recruiting experience itself is a reflection of the high standards upheld by the company itself. “Treat candidates like customers” is my personal mantra that I instilled throughout my whole 5 years of recruiting. You see, having been a sales manager previously, recruiting is no different, as it’s all about keeping customers happy, setting and hitting targets, and building a pipeline for the future. My focus around training reflects the importance of that.

Six Degrees: How the recession has affected your particular industry niche?

Brad: Weathering the storm of any economic crisis has its impacts. Staffing within a recession strikes fear into many recruiters. I have seen it in 2001 and now in 2009, when hiring has gone from tens of thousands of hires to zero. With that has come significant change on many fronts. Back in 2001, I was a sales manager that had to let go of significant numbers of people, and last year in 2009 I was impacted personally by the GFC when staffing volumes at Cisco dropped significantly.

My groups global responsibilities were dramatically reduced and the majority of teams displaced, including myself. The GFC has given me a great opportunity to take time out from the Corporate world, which is something that doesn’t come around very often. I, together with my wife, have renovated our house, as well as taken some time out for travel. Just recently I have joined Informatica based out of Redwood City, California as the VP Global Talent Acquisition. So it shows that building a global personal network works. In fact my appointment with Informatica was via a LinkedIn networking activity. Proof that networking at all levels included executive levels is critical for career advancement.

Six Degrees: Are there specific groups, both online and in-person that have proved fruitful in extending your personal brand and job seeking prospects?


Brad: It’s been said many times before, but I’ll say it again – in today’s world, one’s own network and your networking capability can and will make or break your career opportunities. For example, when I started using LinkedIn and Plaxo 6-7 years ago, I never imagined the importance of social networking in my industry. In fact, it has opened doors on so many different angles. My time living in the US and building my network in corporate there has also been instrumental in developing my own personal brand identity. On another level, I also advocate coffee chats as a great way to meet and get to know interesting people, who may end up having an important part to play in the next opportunity. In fact, I have made it a personal goal to meet at least 2 new people every week, be it for a coffee, or connect with them on LinkedIn or some such other networking site. Seeing the current changes in the market networking will be a primary vehicle for finding opportunities in the future.


Brad Cook Pick’s: “The Best Is Yet to Come” by Michael Buble

Recommendations For Brad

“While working for Brad in Global Staffing for over two years, he continually impressed me with his leadership skills, and natural affinity for keeping his team motivated to deliver complex projects on time. He is one of those rare managers that can bring out the best in his direct reports – creating a productive environment of mutual respect, personal empowerment, and fun. I would welcome the opportunity to work for Brad again.” October 1, 2009
Cindy Cloud, WW Cisco Services Change Management, Cisco

“I had the pleasure of working for Brad while at Cisco, and by far his was one of my best managers. He assigns projects that challenge you, and provides the leadership that will make you succeed, he ensures that his teams are always growing by providing training, and sharing his knowledge. Brad takes the time to understand your strengths and encourages you to rise to the top of your game. Brad is a true leader and I’m fortunate to have worked for him, and hope to work for him again.” September 29, 2009
Sylvia Flores, Staffing Manager, Cisco

“Brad combines innovative thinking with the ability to put that thinking into action. My team and I really enjoy working on projects with Brad because we’re able to turn vision into reality with him and his team.” July 9, 2009
Anne Formalarie, Manager, Cisco Systems


“Brad came to the US from a field sales role as was key to driving an outside-in view within the San Jose based team. Brad has strong service business knowledge, is a good leader, see’s the big picture and is very solid in execution. Brad was a great team player and knows how to get the best out of people.” June 26, 2009
Brian Jeffries, VP Services Global Field Operations, Cisco

“Brad is an outstanding senior leader with global insights and strong business acumen. His sales leadership experience has been highly regarded in all circles. His staffing and HR experience are an added plus to a very well rounded executive. Wes Olson” May 13, 2009
Wes Olson, Director, Vertical Sales, Cisco Systems Inc

“Brad joined the Global Staffing Team from one of the business lines. He brought his business expertise, passion for improvement and team building knowledge to a newly forming group. He quickly established himself as a value to the team by encouraging us to look at “staffing” from the business perspective – and helping us build a model that was scalable and flexible meeting the needs of our businesses during some turbulent times. Personally I always appreciated Brad’s open communication style and objectivity in his leadership style. He’s definitely one of the “good ones”!” April 22, 2009
Lisa Glebus, Staffing Operations Manager – US, CISCO Systems

“Brad is a motivated and enthusiastic manager/leader to work with bringing a great depth and experience to the management team at Cisco. His enthusiasm and focus brought a strong energy to the service sales team offering open, supportive and constructive guidance ultimately delivering strong results and a high performing team. He is a great communicator and articulate public speaker and is able to build trust and motivation with the people he works with. Brad is naturally good at inspiring people! Many people, including myself, benefited from the experience of his leadership. He shows a genuine and intuitive understanding of human behaviour and it is these natural skills that set him apart from his colleagues. Thanks Brad, your one of the best managers I have had in my IT career.” April 14, 2009
Julanne Saltiel, Service Account Manager, Cisco Systems

“Having recently joined Cisco, Brad has been an invaluable resource and mentor to me. I’ve partnered with Brad and his team on multiple issues and he does a wonderful job articulating the challenges needing addressed and leading our team toward successful resolution. Brad is quickly able to identify the bigger picture and successfully builds a strategy and vision to tackle whatever the business challenge presents. I’ve watched Brad in action participate in meetings and handily diffusing what could have become difficult discussion, and turning it instead into a productive exchange of information. Brad is a strong collaborator who has worked well across multiple business units on a global basis and is consistently effective. On a personal note, Brad has been a great support to me as a new employee. He is quick to help explain to me the larger picture or help me identify resources to assist. His patience and insight have been a huge source of support for me and I’ve been able to go to safely go to him and seek him out for guidance.” April 9, 2009
Jackie D’Ercole, Manager – WW Talent Supply, Cisco

“As Brad’s teammate at Cisco Systems, I observed his ability to make his case, solicit management support and collaborate cross-functionally as he proactively worked to resolve customer service issues and raise customer satisfaction, or improve internal processes and increase productivity. He was also quick to spot, recruit and develop people whose talent may not have been previously recognized, allowing him to build strong and loyal teams. These were some of Brad’s strengths which, when added on to his sales accomplishments, made him a credible, forward-thinking leader as he took on more senior roles in the company.” March 22, 2009
Rose de Leon-Titus, Program Manager, WorldWide Field Operations, Cisco

“As a leader in the Staffing organization Brad is highly strategic and forward thinking, yet understands the the day to day tactical needs and complexities of the end to end hiring process. This allows him to drive multiple process improvements and work collaboratively with his peers. As a manager, Brad always had my personal and career development top of mind which I very much appreciated. He trusted his employees to get the job done by providing course correction only when necessary. His engaging personality and sense of humor got us through many stressful times and projects.” March 20, 2009
Denni Oravec, HR Program Manager, Cisco Systems, Inc.

“Brad is an engaging, effective leader and business partner. He has taken bold steps in his career to increase his impact to Cisco and to our customers. He is well regarded in multiple functional areas and geographic theaters. I look forward to working with (or for!) Brad in the future.” March 20, 2009
Jeff Zirker, Senior Director, Operations, Cisco Systems, Inc.

“Brad is an outstanding professional with strong leadership skills. During our relationship in Cisco, he demonstrated superior ability to deal with complexity and ambiguity in a challenging transformation for the Staffing function. His strong process orientation and managerial skills were recognized by both his peers and his team. It ha been a pleasure to work with Brad.” March 20, 2009
Massimo Carli, Senior Hr Manager Switches Storage Wireless, Cisco Systems

“Brad Cook is a knowledgeable and dynamic leader. He consistently goes the extra mile in his collaborations with others. The experience and result of working with Brad is consistently first rate. He has a natural gift for working with people and he demonstrates that by always working to help those around him grow their capacity to perform at a high level.” March 20, 2009
Greg Giuliano, Founder & Managing Partner, Ecstasis Consulting, LLC

“I was fortunate to work with Brad in two different groups at Cisco: WW Customer Advocacy and Human Resources. Brad was a senior leader in both groups and his style was consistent: an excellent leader who drives, motivates, and supports his team to succeed. He simply gets the job done. What I respect about Brad as a leader is that he is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and work on the front line. This has earned him the respect of his peers, direct reports, and indirect reports – me included.” July 9, 2009
Andrew Lee, Manager, Human Resources, Cisco Systems

“Brad was on the few leaders at Cisco that truly encourages and supports your development. He takes the time to know your strengths and areas of development, assigns projects which will challenge you and broaden your capabilities. He is a leader that develops top performing teams by encouraging us to put our best forward. Given the opportunity I would work for Brad again.” January 16, 2009
Sylvia Flores, Staffing Manager, Cisco

“Brad was instrumental in driving change management within our organization. He was able to overcome resistance throughout the organization and came up with very creative ways to drive change.” October 12, 2009
Lisa Everett, Sr Manager, WW Svce Sales Ops, Cisco Systems, Inc

“Brad Cook is the consummate professional. It was pleasure to work for and with him; Brad consistently demonstrated his ability to lead his team with purpose and provide the right level of support, In addition, he was the master at forming business partnerships built on trust that only helped to facilitate delivery of results and value.” October 10, 2009
Celestine Lee, Sales Operations Program Manager/Change Management Consultant, Cisco Systems

“Brad hired me as a professional contractor to develop and execute several communication programs. His ability to give clear direction and supportive advice made it easy to deliver superior work products. Working for Brad was a real pleasure and if he asked me to join his team in the future, I would not hesitate a moment before I said “yes”!” October 1, 2009
Cindy Cloud, WW Cisco Services Change Management, Cisco

“Brad was a great Manager to work for . He showed great leadership and influential skills . Brad was always very focused on the core business objectives. He was a great mentor and provided me with great guidances for success. It was a pleasure working for him.” February 25, 2007
Shin Choy Yeung, Program Manager – WWFO – Sales Force Automation, Cisco Systems

“Brad is a great professional partner. His ability to transform ideas into reality is outstanding. He works with all levels to fully understand the priorities, develops a plan and then executes to completion. Great inspiration!” September 12, 2005
Steve Blaz, Director, Strategic Alliances, Cisco Systems

“Brad Cook was a brillant sales manager, whose leadership inspired exceptional performance from his team. His strong blend of coaching in the field and guidance off the field ensured his team delivered super stretch sales achievement.” September 27, 2009
Robert Finn, Channel Account Manager, Cisco Systems

“Brad is an outstanding leader with strong business acumen. He was highly regarded within Anixter for his sales & professional services leadership and results, developing a very successful national support services business. Global staffing/HR experience with Cisco and financial focus make him a very well rounded senor executive.” December 18, 2009
Adam Summons, Finance Director & CFO – Australia, Anixter Australia

“Brad hired me into a relatively fledgling support services operation at Anixter. Over the 2 or more years I worked for Brad I encountered a man who was not only highly driven and extremely competent, but ethical, solid, reasonable, personable and an excellent people manager and motivator. He instinctively knows how to build a winning team, driving them to joint success and growing each of them. He took the new support services practice and built it very quickly into a key plank of Anixter’s service offering, winning global acclaim across the organisation. His eventual transition into senior staffing roles at Cisco surprised none of us who have remained in professional contact with Brad. I would work for Brad again any day and I’m sure I’m one of many.” September 26, 2009
Richard Priestley, Project Manager, NetStar Networks

“I also worked with Brad at Anixter for a couple of years. We were very sorry to lose him to Cisco Systems, however there was no holding Brad back and he quickly outgrew his position with us. During his time at Anixter, Brad was instrumental in helping us attract and retain major clients, as well as helping to secure large competitive bids.” February 1, 2006
Salvatore Barbagallo

“I worked with Brad at Anixter. While there Anixter employed many diverse people to drive an aggressive push into its market. Brad was instrumentel in leading that charge by example ! Brad’s disposition allowed him to worked well with all employees in a highley charged environment.” July 20, 2005
Greg O’Brien

KEYWORDS: “Talent Acquisition” “Talent Strategies”, Cisco, Informatica, ERE, “ERE Awards”, Jobs2Web, Branding, Sourcing, “Passive Talent”

Comments

2 Responses to “Man Versus Wild: Meet Brad Cook, Global Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Informatica”

  1. Dennis Smith on September 16th, 2010 11:22 am

    Excellent post, Dave! I now feel like I’ve met Brad in person!

    thanks bro!

  2. Simon Cooper on July 11th, 2012 12:01 pm

    I work with Brad at Informatica and this article really is a true reflection of the man. He exudes energy and enthusiasm in his work and it would seem, he is an action man when he leaves the office too.