I was rejected by Crystal Palace and left homeless before becoming CEO of a huge billion dollar tech company
WHEN Dean Forbes missed out on a career as a professional footballer, he could have been forgiven for thinking his days of earning millions would be over.
The hard-to-take snub coincided with a tough time in the future tech CEO’s life, when he found himself homeless at 17 while also being the primary carer for his disabled mother.
Indebted because he was trying to keep up with his fellow spendthrift footballers, Forbes took an entry-level sales position at Motorola’s call center.
In over 20 years, he rose through the corporate ranks to run a large software company.
Last year, Forterro – of which Forbes is the CEO – was acquired for a staggering $1bn (£823m).
While his own net worth is said to be around £40million.
The boy did well
Forbes told Business Chief: “I describe the start of my professional journey as a twice-homeless failed footballer who found himself doing telesales to pay off a mountain of debt he had accumulated to keep up with his footballing friends. .
“I am really grateful for this debt because it meant that I had to fail football quickly to enter the professional working environment.”
When Forbes was young, he was living his dreams as a centre-back on the books of Premier League side Crystal Palace.
But, her home life was far from rosy.
He first became homeless when he was 14, for reasons he described as “a very bad family situation”.
Then, at just 17, Forbes’ disabled mother lost her job and their family home.
They were forced to live in hostels, which meant breaking up the family.
“Both times were very difficult for our family,” Forbes revealed.
“We went to hostel accommodation and the second time we came out breaking the family. I was of age so I left home and had to go and make my own way.
“It was during the Motorola days, so I left home, which meant my mother needed a smaller place that we could find more easily. Four years later, I was able to to buy a house.”
Picking the job also meant that football was going backwards.
He admitted: “I look back now and realize that I can’t say I dedicated my life to it because my friends who had great careers, there’s a complete contrast in how we discussed football.
“I liked it. I liked it so much and the part that didn’t help me was that it was just a group of friends from similar fields, so I just laughed six days a week. week and I messed around, played football when it was time to play football, but I wasn’t dedicated to it.”
But it put Forbes on a different path.
Working for Motorola in telesales in a windowless room was the springboard for Forbes to pursue a career in business, and specifically in technology.
He rose through the ranks at Motorola, before taking up management positions at Isis Telecommunications and then in Primavera software development.
It was then that Forbes started working with mega-currencies.
He was instrumental in the $550m (£460m) sale of Primavera to US IT technology company Oracle.
Soon after, he landed his first CEO job for Paris-based KDS, which was later acquired by American Express in another multi-million deal.
What became apparent was that the companies run by Forbes were doing so well that they were subject to huge takeovers.
In 2021, Forbes was named CEO of Forterro, a leading pan-European provider of ERP software for the industrial middle market.
Surprisingly enough, private markets firm Partners Group bought the company for $1 billion a year later – retaining Forbes as CEO.
The business acumen of inspirational leaders has seen him recognized as the UK’s most influential black man by the JP Morgan-backed Powerlist 2023, the annual summary of the UK’s most powerful people of African descent , Afro-Caribbean and African-American.
While The Apprentice fans may have recently seen Forbes appear on the You’re Fired aftershow.
It’s fair to say that this apprentice certainly eclipsed his masters.