INSIGHT INTERVIEW - Clapson takes off from Debonair.
When we first encountered Richard Clapson, he was standing about eight feet tall in London’s Victoria tube station. He was, alongside his boss, Franco Mancassola, modelling in an advertising poster for their company, the low-cost European business airline, Debonair. Clapson had joined the company long before it raised any money, never mind any landing gear. We met up with him for our March 1998 issue, shortly after the company’s successful flotation on Easdaq. In June, however, Clapson left Debonair after a five year stint, in search of a new challenge. “That really is the time cycle in which I feel I can contribute most. I told the board that I thought the company would benefit from having somebody fresh,” he told us a couple of weeks ago. “It was never my intention to actually join the airline. My original task was to help Franco put the original business plans together, to put the finance together, then to step back once the airline got going – but I gradually got sucked in.” Now he’s working as an interim manager: “I’ve been thinking about it for about a year. I very much enjoy a fresh challenge and to learn new things,” he says. Within a week or so, he got fixed up with a three- to four-month assignment with tour operator Unijet. “You have to take the plunge, and so I thought I would. But there certainly wasn’t a lack of opportunities.”