BRAIN FOOD: If I had to start again ..

BRAIN FOOD: If I had to start again .. - I suppose we should not be surprised - given their competitive nature - that many businessmen would like to have been a professional sportsman.

by SIR BRIAN PITMAN, chairman of Lloyds TSB Group till hisretirement in 2001, is a senior adviser to Morgan Stanley
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I suppose we should not be surprised - given their competitive nature - that many businessmen would like to have been a professional sportsman.

It would be wonderful to win the Open golf tournament or to score a try at a Twickenham international. But I suspect that this is little more than a schoolboy dream. Few of us have the talent to get to the top in professional sport. Dream on. So, the odds are that if I had to start again, I'd go into business, and probably choose banking again. Few businesses offer more excitement, more ups and downs, more involvement with world leaders or more geo-political impact. Above all, it is the ultimate people business, where its decisions affect the lives of countries, governments, corporations and individuals.

But I hope I could be wise enough to do a few things differently. We made the mistake of not preparing the Standard Chartered management enough when we tried to buy the company in 1986, and we missed a chance to buy a big US bank for a song a few years later. I'd like to have spent more time working in the US, where the biggest opportunities lie.

I've been lucky with the plural way of life that has come my way in recent years. Morgan Stanley is an outstanding investment bank, Next is a terrific retail company, while Carlton, Carphone Warehouse and Tomkins all have plenty to interest. In my experience, you can make a difference as a non-executive director.

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