My career began as a salesman with Pedigree Petfoods – no better way to learn the fundamentals of business. I then worked for several years in FMCG marketing, including household names such as Lucozade, Horlicks & John Player Special, before moving into general management. I have run businesses across a broad range of industry sectors, operating globally, including leading successful management buy-outs. My last full time job was running the Royal Mint. I am now an angel investor, mentoring young entrepreneurs, as well as chairing businesses on behalf of private equity groups.
What skills can you bring as a mentor?
I believe that the role of a mentor is, above all, to be a good listener. I want to help entrepreneurs realise the full potential of their ideas, and that requires understanding their vision, and helping them to identify the skills and resources required to make their aspirations a reality. It also involves telling them some harsh truths from time to time, and making sure they don’t give up when the going gets tough.
What do you think makes the difference between a good business and a brilliant business?
The simple answer is leadership and the quality of the team you build around you. It always helps to have a great product, but, in my experience, success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration. There is no substitute for hard work and total consistency in everything you do.
IF YOU HAD YOUR TIME AGAIN IN BUSINESS, WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY ? I would have understood the importance of teamwork earlier, and been a better delegator. I would have listened more, and talked less.