If I had to start again ...

Robert Heller. I should have gone into the City and simply sat and waited. But then I wouldn't be here talking about the history of management journalism.

by
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

But I knew I wanted to write. I am a natural cineaste, so it may have made sense to write for films, but I didn't care about the subject as long as I was getting paid to play with words. At the time, the market for business and financial coverage was expanding tremendously. When I joined the Financial Times in 1958, it had a circulation of 30,000; when I left three years later it was 200,000. I became the FT's New York correspondent at 26, which was a valuable experience. At the time, no-one was writing about business as a human activity but, observing the management revolution over on the West Coast, I realised management was a personal thing - firms could achieve amazing things if they got the right people in.

I then wrote an Insight column for the Observer and got the buzz for being the 'drama critic' of British business. It was one of the most exciting periods of my career, fighting the Sunday Times every week.

I would have been happy to stay, but great opportunities kept opening up. When Michael Heseltine put together a dummy of Management Today I was asked to be editor. I originally told its publishers Haymarket they couldn't afford me, but the magazine shared my aim of humanising business and I realised straightaway that we were doing something special. No-one thought we'd succeed.

The success of my first book The Naked Manager was a huge highlight, but I'm very proud of all my books, and every magazine I helped launch at Haymarket, such as Campaign and Accountancy Age. I like to think I've made some difference to journalism, that many things I pioneered have now become accepted. But it's the actors and playwrights people remember, not the drama critics. You have to be of the vast stature of Peter Drucker if you want to be a landmark, and even his reputation will gradually fade away. It's an ephemeral activity writing about those who will eventually be forgotten.

These 40 years have been a fantastic story of ups and downs, stars rising and falling, and the impossible becoming commonplace. And I've been here throughout, reminding people on huge salaries that they need to deliver results. It's been a lot of fun.

- Robert Heller, 74, was the founding editor of Management Today, occupying the editorial chair until January 1983.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Subscribe

Get your essential reading delivered. Subscribe to Management Today