A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him – David Brinkley
In a recent interview, Raul Marcelo Claure, the first Latino CEO of Sprint, stated, “I wanted to make sure that I became the most successful Bolivian immigrant ever.” With an ever-growing list of accomplishments including ownership of Bolivia’s national soccer team and being inducted into the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Hall of Fame, it looks like Mr. Claure is well on his way.
Born in La Paz, Bolivia, his rise up the corporate ladder began in, well – the air. Shortly after graduating from Bentley University in Massachusetts, Claure was returning home to Bolivia when he struck up a conversation with then president of Bolivian Football Federation and landed his first job as marketing manager. Under his tenure, he relocated the country’s team to Spain and brought home the coveted World Cup. Not too shabby.
Although he had achieved success in his native Bolivia, Claure returned to the U.S. and launched several businesses. In 1995, the burgeoning entrepreneur found his true calling – selling mobile devices. Purchasing two relatively minor mobile phone stores, Claure achieved almost instant success, selling phones with the promise of free delivery. The savvy businessman soon sold his company and relocated to Miami where in 1997 he launched Brightstar Corporation.
Soon after, Claure saw an opportunity to partner with Motorola and greatly expand his business throughout South America and the U.S. The business became so successful; it ran BrightPoint and CellStar, Brightstar’s two main competitors, right out of Latin America. Brightstar currently owns stores in 125 countries that in 2013 generated a whopping $10.5 billion in revenue.
After such lofty achievements, the 43-year-old businessman could have simply rested on his laurels. But that wouldn’t be the gutsy entrepreneur’s style. Instead Claure sold the majority stake of Brightstar and signed on as Sprint’s newest CEO. Reports speculate that Sprint could be Claure’s biggest challenge to date as the company has been on a steady downward decline, shedding subscribers left and right. Since his arrival however, Claure has made steps to staunch the bleeding and win back customers.
Selling mobile devices may have built Claure’s empire; but he is still a fan boy at heart. So much so, that he acquired the Bolivia’s national team and teamed up with international soccer star David Beckham, to bring a Major League Soccer team to Claure’s adopted home of Miami.
Yet, its not all business for Claure, as has also demonstrated a philanthropic side. As co-founder of the non-profit One Laptop Per Child, he works to ensure that children from low-income families have access to the benefits of technology. He and co-founder Nicholas Negroponte have teamed with companies such as Google, Quanta Corp., Marvell and AMD to create low-cost, easy-to-build laptops and tablets for children in developing countries. If that’s not the mark of a man building success brick by brick, we don’t know what is!!