Sébastien Kher, the art of the collective ‘I’
We met Sébastien Kher a few days prior to an important announcement for his company. He reflects on the key elements of his career as a man and entrepreneur.
How can you describe a boss without falling into the usual clichés? Sébastien Kher himself, as head of Nomios, provides a punchy answer. He is far – very far – removed from the image, almost caricature, of a stilted, uptight manager who captains their ship and sees, understands and anticipates everything. By his own admission, he has always found it very difficult to say ‘I’, as the collective aspect takes precedence over the individual. ‘Alone, we are nothing. Everyone has their own strengths,’ says the manager.
The native Parisian was quick to enter the world of work. ‘I was hired by a UK company when I was still a student. Part of my time was spent there, and part on my studies,’ he explains. ‘This period taught me a lot about flexibility first and foremost, as well as the attitude to adopt with clients. He was dismissed and then re-recruited on the same day. ‘It was a great example of flexibility,’ he recalls with a smile. His mentor, an American, was a great source of inspiration. ‘He always worked with his feet up on his desk. When I pointed this out to him, he explained that his laid-back nature made it easier to relate to customers,’ says Sébastien Kher. ‘He believed customers had to understand that he didn’t really need them. And his method worked: at the time, he earned ten times as much as I did.’
‘Without her support, my business wouldn’t exist,’ he admits. ‘She takes priority over everything! - Sébastien Kher
Sébastien Kher’s encounters with other people throughout life have proven character-building, and meeting his wife is one of the milestones in his journey. ‘Without her support, my business wouldn’t exist,’ he admits. ‘She takes priority over everything! I tell everyone, including my clients, when she calls me – I’d rather lose a contract than lose my wife.’ Sébastien prioritises his family in a more global sense. ‘I can’t be reached before 8 AM, and I don’t answer my phone when I’m having dinner in the evening. It’s family time that I want to cherish.’
My wife takes priority over everything
This strict separation between private and professional time is something his father – one of his role models – told Sébastien’s wife. ‘My father, a businessman, secretly came to see my wife. Having divorced my mother, he emphasised the tougher aspects of running a business and explained that my wife had to set limits in order to protect us,’ says Sébastien Kher. This memory powerfully evokes Sébastien’s respect for his father from whom he inherited his ‘entrepreneurial mindset’. ‘He was the owner of a company in the Vosges department, where he fought tirelessly to keep jobs local.’
With role models like his father and a Jewish grandfather on his mother’s side who escaped the war and always showed the greatest kindness, Sébastien Kher doesn’t really need any more paragons in his life. However, he says he has ‘immense respect’ for a sportsman like Rafael Nadal: ‘He’s really friendly and treats people with respect. While he’s certainly not as slick as [Roger] Federer, his ability to be kind to everyone commands respect.’ Although not a high-level athlete (on his own confession), the founder of Nomios makes sure to play tennis regularly. ‘I’m a member of a club and play once a week,’ he says. Coming from a family of accomplished athletes – his father was an international volleyball player; his mother ranked highly in the same sport – he couldn’t justify dismissing physical exercise. ‘I was never brilliant at anything. I still enjoy playing tennis, as well as golf or going skiing.’ When asked about his vision of sport, Sébastien Kher prefers to see it as ‘an airlock’. ‘I don’t feel the need to compete to enjoy it fully,’ he says.
How does the founding of Nomios fit into all of this? Despite being the boss of a IT service company specialising in cybersecurity, Sébastien is still very much down-to-earth. ‘I make sure I communicate every quarter and provide my teams with information about the company,’ he says. Maintaining a constant relationship with people is essential; this relationship with other people and the need to exchange remain intact. Despite his busy schedule, Sébastien Kher continues to manage ten clients directly – while making sure to be at home by 7:45 PM every evening to have dinner with his family.