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Human Resources talked to Havaianas Asia Pacific President Robert Esser, who comes from California but has lived in Asia most of his life.
What’s on Robert’s desk?
– A rotating globe floating in a clear liquid cube gifted by my girlfriend for my fondness towards antique maps and as a memoir of our adventures.
– A biography of Ernest Hemingway. I am a giant fan of Hemingway. I also prefer print books to e-books.
– A handmade fabric coaster and embroidery from my children.
Describe your typical workday.
I get into the office very early, before 7am. The first thing I do is check my emails. I get about 150 emails overnight from Brazil because of the 12-hour time difference. Then I have meetings with people. I usually don’t take a lunch break. I bring lunch from home and eat it at my desk. I try to leave before 5pm every day. In the evenings, I have phone calls from Brazil from Havaianas’ headquarters.
My typical week includes a flight to Singapore or Japan or other Asian countries. Every three months, I have to go to Brazil.
You are wearing Havaianas’ flip flops. Do you actually wear them every day to work?
No. That’s only for today. I own 10 pairs of Havaianas’ espadrilles, and I do wear them every day. They are classy, comfy and waterproof.
Would you describe yourself as a productive person?
Yes. I don’t have much tolerance for formal nonsense. I axed weekly meetings in my previous company because there were often too many people involved, and they were more like a reading session. I would rather have a one-on-one shorter, but more efficient session.
My son always asks me why I am walking so fast. My theory is, if I spend less time getting from place to place, I will have more time. I usually have a couple of things going on at the same time.
You speak Mandarin and Cantonese, and you’ve been in Asia for almost 30 years. Why are you attracted to Asian culture?
I can’t really explain this. I am just interested in it. When I first came to Asia, it was because I was offered a degree in oriental studies by a university in Beijing. And then one thing leads to another, and now here I am.
Who is your inspirational figure?
Lionel Messi’s hero is Agustín Creevy, the captain of Argentina’s rugby team. And I get where Messi is coming from. I have a lot of respect for someone like Creevy who does not necessarily get all the cheers, but works very hard, goes to the frontline and gets the most difficult task done.
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