In one of those cosy 'those were the days' conversations, which get to us all in the end, a long-standing colleague came out with the thought that most of us of a certain age and certain standing would today be unqualified to apply for our own jobs. I guess that would be the main difference in starting again - we'd need classy degrees and professional letters to get through the doors of the very businesses we'd created.
As much as I have thoroughly enjoyed the rough, tumble and sheer exhilaration of building companies and seeing them succeed to create jobs and a decent standard of living for many people in Britain and around the world, it left little room for the luxury of academic study. As it is, the easing off of business responsibilities now provides the time and space for the reading and study which went by the board in those early days, when every hour was devoted to business endeavour. It is a source of great joy and satisfaction. These days, business and academia are intertwined, as the global marketplace demands brilliantly educated managers who are in tune and at ease with the world at large. A sound education and a good degree is the passport to the best management jobs and - ultimately - to the boardroom. That's the way I would go if I was planning a future career at the start of the 21st century; and I'm certain it's the right advice for those who are actually doing so. (Mind you, underneath the academic cap and gown you still want to see a fellow with a street trader's nose for a good deal and profit!)
Lord King was chairman of British Airways 1981-93.