Sebastian Sajoux is a businessman, environmental crusader, and successful entrepreneur. Passionate and dedicated to developing practical, technological, environmental sustainability solutions to protect the natural environment and both human and ecological health while driving innovation that does not compromise the quality of life. He is the CEO at Arqlite. Trusted advisor to large international companies as they create and manage corporate actions to promote sustainability programs across the globe. A visionary who founded proprietary recycling technology plants to combat the world’s non-recyclable products stockpile.
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Table of Contents
Let’s start with a brief introduction first. Introduce yourself to our readers.
Sebastian Sajoux: I was born in Argentina and have always been an entrepreneur. I worked for many years in the communications and marketing world. In 2012, I became involved with global sustainability, working with the leading consumer brands towards environmentally conscious operations. In 2015, I founded Arqlite, a unique technology to tackle plastic pollution in the USA and South America.
Our audience is interested to know about how you got started in the first place. Did you always want to become a CEO or was it something you were led to? Our readers would love to know your story!
Sebastian Sajoux: I’ve always been an entrepreneur and loved to run my projects, meaning that I had to lead teams, look for financing, sell the concept, and of course, make the toughest decisions. However, it took me a long time to feel comfortable with the CEO title. I had to use it first to pitch to investors. It was a must for fundraising, and it sounded very natural in that field. However, it was harder among my people and my team, as I felt it created a separation between us. After some time, I realized that the title was something earned through actions and that I was already doing many of the things CEOs do. I now proudly carry the title, with the responsibility it comes with it, but most importantly, validated by the team I lead.
“Selfmade” is a myth. We all received help, no doubt you love to show appreciation to those who supported you when the going got tough, who has been your most important professional inspiration?
Sebastian Sajoux: I must say a big part of my professional growth and company breakthroughs were sparked by the people that have walked the entrepreneurial world by my side. It’s difficult to set a podium as I have plenty of examples, but I can mention some that have been sources of inspiration and, most importantly, my biggest supporters during the toughest times: Luni Libes, founder and CEO at Fledge, impact accelerator where Arqlite was incubated for the first time. And Chris Graff, founder of the NYC Curb-to-Market Challenge and lead investor on our Series A. Best decision ever: Bringing them in as members of our company board of directors.
How did your journey lead you to become a CEO? What difficulties did you face along the way and what did you learn from them?
Sebastian Sajoux: The bigger the title, the bigger the responsibilities. And being a startup CEO comes with the full pack of difficulties: limited resources, pivoting strategies, uncertainties, crazy deadlines, and the most ambitious milestones. The biggest challenge was to keep calm during the toughest storms and become more and more resilient with every hard wind. If you can do this and keep the good vibes, then you are ready to lead your team to success.
Tell us about your company. What does your business do and what are your responsibilities as a CEO?
Sebastian Sajoux: Arqlite has a unique technology capable of processing complex plastics (this is one of every two plastic products that we use and discard every day) and can’t be recycled using standard technologies. My role as a CEO is to coordinate the different teams and assign the resources in the best possible way to keep a fast pace on R&D, marketing, fundraising, finance, etc.
What does CEO stand for? Beyond the dictionary definition, how would you define it?
Sebastian Sajoux: Make the best hires and provide them with the best possible tools and the best working environment so they can bring their maximum value to the company.
When you first became a CEO, how was it different from what you expected? What surprised you?
Sebastian Sajoux: I’m a founder at Arqlite, so at first, it was working 24/7 to make the company successful. The moment the team started growing, it was more about making them successful to make the company thrive.
There are many schools of thought as to what a CEO’s core roles and responsibilities are. Based on your experience, what are the main things a CEO should focus on? Explain and please share examples or stories to illustrate your vision.
Sebastian Sajoux: A CEO should focus on his people. I’m usually out of the office, either working at the production area with our recycling and manufacturing equipment or at our coworking office space brainstorming ideas with the creative team.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Sebastian Sajoux: One of the toughest times was when I had to consider shutting down one of our first facilities due to the impact of the pandemic. This plant in Argentina was our first pilot, where I spent most of my life building the basis for what Arqlite is today, so it was certainly something difficult to do. However, one more time, the team showed its skills and turned a market limitation into an opportunity by pivoting our technology and adapting our Smart Gravel as raw material for manufacturing plastic products, a market that never slowed down and served as a new revenue stream to keep the lights on.
How would you define success? Does it mean generating a certain amount of wealth, gaining a certain level of popularity, or helping a certain number of people?
Sebastian Sajoux: Success to me is to find a good balance between your family and your work. And if you can make some money along the way, then even better!
Some leadership skills are innate while others can be learned. What leadership skills do you possess innately and what skills have you cultivated over the years as a CEO?
Sebastian Sajoux: I always liked people and leadership was something spontaneous. However, I was very shy at presentations, conferences, and public events, so I had to learn how to speak to an audience and overcome that fear.
How did your role as a CEO help your business overcome challenges caused by the pandemic? Explain with practical examples.
Sebastian Sajoux: These are hard times for companies, but most importantly hard times at home, so I think my role as a CEO during the pandemic was to transmit calm to the team, to be flexible, and to listen. The crisis is change, and change is always good. We used the first few months of the pandemic to focus on internal growth (R&D, strategy, standards, certifications, etc.) and to prepare for new opportunities to come. Now we are stronger as a company and as a team.
Do you have any advice for aspiring CEOs and future leaders? What advice would you give a CEO that is just starting on their journey?
Sebastian Sajoux: Love what you do. Move fast. You’ll have time to relax when you retire
Thank you for sharing some of your knowledge with our readers! They would also like to know, what is one skill that you’ve always wanted to acquire but never really could?
Sebastian Sajoux: I love meeting people and socializing, but I’m terrible at remembering small talk. My iPad is now my best tool to keep notes— and friends!
Before we finish things off, we have one final question for you. If you wrote a book about your life today, what would the title be?
Sebastian Sajoux: “Have Fun, Meet People & Save the Planet – while you make your investors happy”
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Sebastian Sajoux for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Sebastian Sajoux or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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