Gary Cohen speaks candidly about how his offline passion for a charity helped him deal with his own crisis.
"I never thought that I personally would need help."
Very few people are as candid, but Gary Cohen, IT entrepreneur, former tech company chief executive and long-time charity worker, has learned to be so the hard way.
As 2007 unfolded, Cohen found himself riding a wave of success. IBA Health, the health technology company he founded with brother Brian in 1996, had risen to boast a market cap of $1 billion following its acquisition of iSoft.
The ambitious, big picture CEO renamed the parent company iSoft and set about conquering the world. But it wasn't to be.
iSoft's major contract with the UK's National Health Service went pear shaped, the global financial crisis began to bite, and the Australian dollar wreaked havoc on the balance sheet.
Cohen's dream life became a nightmare, and he was ultimately kicked out of the company that had consumed his life. CSC ended the iSoft era by acquiring the troubled company earlier this year, and is progressively erasing iSoft's brand.
In a revealing video interview with IT Pro, Cohen details the personal impact of these events and how they shaped his outlook on business and life.
It was a painful journey and a harsh twist of fate given Cohen's role as director of Bondi-based crisis care centre The Jewish House. He was well aware life is tough for other people, and now it was his turn.
"Ultimately when you are running a public company you can be very selfish, you can forget about everybody, you can forget about your shareholders, you can forget about your staff. You can just worry about you as an individual," he says. Admitting he soon learned that anyone can experience a crisis.
Fortunately, his friends at The Jewish House were supportive, as was his tight-knit Jewish family and community.
"The strongest and the most successful people don’t always continually have good times."
And today life's brighter. He's formed investment firm Marcel Equity and feels stronger for the experience. "You learn more for your failures than you do from your successes," he says. Cohen even confesses he's starting to have fun again.
IT Pro's Offline video series looks to paint a picture of the personalities behind the big IT names. It canvasses the passions that shape who they are, how they work and how they relate to their peers.