Twenty Years of British Bosses

The chances are almost any household name from British business has been photographed by MT's Harry Borden and Julian Dodd.

by
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Here we look back at the larger than life corporate chiefs at the centre of two decades of takeovers and scandals and fortunes made and lost. The portraits formed part of a retrospective at London's Whitechapel Gallery late last month, to mark the occasion of 20 years of MT's Britain's Most Admired Leader Awards.

LORD BROWNE, 1999

How the mighty fall. Fresh from the $57bn merger of BP and Amoco, the then John Browne is pictured at his career zenith, set to acquire the monicker 'Sun King' and a peerage to boot. But he quit, disgraced, in 2007 - although he authored last year's Browne review into higher education.

TODD STITZER, 2004

Harking back to happier days as CEO of Cadbury-Schweppes, Stitzer liked this shot so much he bought copies for friends. But times have changed since he lost the infamous takeover battle with Kraft last year. 'I am richer at the bank but sadder in my heart,' he has said.

JAMES MURDOCH, 2007

Now boss of News Corp's entire Europe and Asia business, clean-cut Murdoch Jr was running 'only' BSkyB when MT took this shot. He is heir apparent to Rupert's empire, unless the News of the World phone hacking scandal dents his prospects.

SIR PHILIP GREEN, 2005

The chairman of BHS began work at 16 and is a UK retailing titan. Rebuffed twice by M&S but still worth an estimated £4.1bn, the combative Green is currently battling a sickly British high street on one flank and the guerrilla tactics of tax agitators UK Uncut on the other.

SIR JOHN HARVEY-JONES, 2006

In the last big interview before his death in 2008, aged 83, former ICI chairman and Bafta-winning TV troubleshooter explained - in typical style - his dim view of The Apprentice's Alan Sugar. 'I never liked Alan, I thought he was a bully,' he said. 'I watch his programme with horror.'

TONY PIDGLEY, 2003

Adopted by gypsies and brought up in a disused railway carriage, Pidgley is the UK's most successful and Most Admired housing developer. Dominating the Thames river banks, his blocks of flats are rarely things of beauty, but Pidgley knows the margin on every last one-bedroomed apartment.

SIR STUART ROSE, 2001

Recently retired from the top job at M&S, Rose is an eminence grise of British retailing. The author of eco-strategy Plan A also worked at Burton group, Arcadia and Booker. He often had staff queuing for his autograph when he made a site visit - making him something of a rarity among CEOs.

VICTOR CHANDLER, 2008

Holed up in his Gibraltar lair, Chandler is the godfather of British gambling. His once trackside business is now all online and turns over £1bn a year. Aged 60, Chandler still fears the roll of the dice and told MT: 'I've always got it in the back of my mind that it could all go wrong.'

SIR ALEX FERGUSON AND DAVID GILL, 2005

The Boss and his boss, manager and CEO of Manchester United. Ferguson told MT: 'Management is all about control. Success gives you control and control gives you longevity.' Still in control at the age of 70, Ferguson is approaching the climax of what may well be one of his most successful seasons.

GEN SIR MIKE JACKSON, 2004

In Kosovo in 1999, Jackson famously refused an order from the US's General Wesley Clark, saying: 'I'm not going to start the third world war.' He was Britain's highest-ranking soldier from 2003 to 2006. Now he's an adviser to PA Consulting Group and PE firm Chalsys Capital Partners.

BARBARA STOCKING, 2004

'From the age of 18, I wanted to change the world,' Stocking has said. As chief executive of Oxfam since 2001, she has been doing just that. The former NHS manager has also turned the charity into a global force, with revenues of £318m last year.

CHRIS HYMAN, 2007

A rare member of an ethnic minority heading a FTSE 100 company, Hyman is a hard-driving teetotaller who jogs long distances before dawn and donates 10% of his salary to his church. He has put outsourcer Serco on the global map - it's no longer 'the biggest company you've never heard of'.

GUY HANDS, 1999

A financial wheeler-dealer par excellence, the Terra Firma boss has recently come a cropper with his disastrous purchase and loss of EMI. He lives in the Channel Islands, from where he frequently protests about UK income tax rates.

JOANNA SHIELDS, 2008

Responsible for Facebook's business development across more than half the globe, Shields was previously Google's boss in Europe. Chief executive of Bebo when this picture was taken, she persuaded AOL to fork out £420m for the social network - off-loaded for a pitiful £6.7m last year.

SIR TERRY LEAHY, 2004

Legendary Tesco CEO Leahy stepped down in March after 14 years in charge of what is probably the nation's best-run company. A self-professed 'ordinary bloke', he has won MT's Britain's Most Admired Leader award eight times in the past decade.

LORD SUGAR, 2001

The irascible entrepreneur with a £730m property fortune found unlikely fame as the face of business, fronting TV reality show The Apprentice since 2005. Ennobled by Gordon Brown, Sugar now has nearly 400,000 followers on Twitter.

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