Sir Digby Jones - If I had to start again ...

It has been said I have a fabulous face for radio, and if I was starting again I'd consider journalism - quality reporting, not celebrity stuff.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Either broadcast or in print. I'd also be suited to a marketing role, as I found through working in my father's grocery shop that I have the right personality for selling. But I wouldn't change anything I've done - which sounds arrogant, but it's true. Everything, from joining the navy to working at law firm Edge & Ellison, was what I wanted to do at the time. I'm a lad from Birmingham who had never been to 10 Downing Street or the palace, or given a speech to 1,000 people, before being appointed at the CBI. So every day here has been an amazing adventure.

I'm so busy that Pat, my wife of 16 years, says it's like I've left her and just haven't told her; but she's an independent lady. I wish I saw her more often, because she's fantastic, but the busy lifestyle only makes it more special when we are together.

Since I started my first job as a pool lifeguard aged 15 in 1971, I could count on both hands the number of unhappy days I've had at work. And whenever things have taken a turn, I've done something about it - I'm not the type to mope around. When I realised I had nothing more to offer Edge & Ellison, I left. You have to be honest with yourself when it's time to move on.

I've learnt something new every day in this job. It has taken me to 60 different countries and made me very proud of our society, which I now understand a lot better. The main lesson, though, is that there's no substitute for hard work. Don't con yourself - work hard, be proud of that, and believe in yourself. Say 'please' and 'thank you' and you'll succeed, as it's difficult to give someone a bollocking if they're cheerful. That's something I've put to good use myself.

- Sir Digby Jones is director-general of the CBI.

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