EDITORIAL: Sometimes a CV is too interesting

EDITORIAL: Sometimes a CV is too interesting - Before the embarrassment of the Hutton Inquiry, one of the trickier moments of Tony Blair's premiership had been at the hands of Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight in May 2002. In one of his most cussed moods, Paxman was picking through and mucking out the stable of the top-shelf publisher Richard Desmond, who had recently made a pounds 100,000 donation to the Labour party. 'Horny Housewives?' he queried. 'Megaboobs? Posh Wives and Skinny and Wriggly - do you know what these magazines are like?'

by Matthew Gwither, Editor
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Before the embarrassment of the Hutton Inquiry, one of the trickier moments of Tony Blair's premiership had been at the hands of Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight in May 2002. In one of his most cussed moods, Paxman was picking through and mucking out the stable of the top-shelf publisher Richard Desmond, who had recently made a pounds 100,000 donation to the Labour party. 'Horny Housewives?' he queried. 'Megaboobs? Posh Wives and Skinny and Wriggly - do you know what these magazines are like?'

For a moment I'd have sworn Blair was about to smirk. His answer, though, was one of exasperation. 'Look ...' (he often prefaces something with 'Look' to add sincere weight) '... if I could get shot of ever raising a single penny for the Labour party ever again, would I not do it?' Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the man who had donated a six-figure sum to his party - although Blair added: 'If someone is fit and proper to own one of the major national newspaper groups in the country, there is no reason why we would not accept donations from them.'

Many great capitalists came from less than wholesome beginnings: Rockefeller, JP Morgan, the bootleggers of the 1930s who went legit. Desmond has some way to go before he joins that pantheon. He is by no means 'great' yet.

He is, however, by virtue of some old-fashioned, hard-nosed costcutting and sound marketing, causing a minor turnaround at the Express Group, which had previously been moribund. You may not like many of Desmond's magazines and porn sites but he has stabilised a national newspaper group in a generally sick sector, and nothing he does is illegal.

Desmond's idol must surely be Rupert Murdoch. A media colossus still going strong in business - and producing offspring at the age of 72. He features in our Seven Over 70 feature, a hymn to the virtues of age and staying in control way past the conventional retiring age. Murdoch is also a classic one-sector stayer: he sticks with what he knows about.

Our feature comparing job-hoppers with career lifers asks an interesting question: should you move between business sectors on your long route to the top, or stick to one industry and master it. 'Should I stay or should I go?', as the late lamented Joe Strummer once asked.

It's a modern HR commonplace that variety in a CV is the key to advancement.

But if you look at the table in the piece that lists how many years the bosses of MT's Most Admired companies have stayed with their organisations, the answer seems simple - stay put and specialise. As Lindsay Owen-Jones of L'Oreal asserts: 'You've got to join a good company and stay with it. All this nonsense that has been said about job-hopping is the most destructive thing I know.'

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