THE ANDREW DAVIDSON INTERVIEW: Sir Roy Gardner, Centrica and Manchester United

THE ANDREW DAVIDSON INTERVIEW: Sir Roy Gardner, Centrica and Manchester United - CEO of the motley conglomerate Centrica, chairman of Manchester United and the mover behind several Government initiatives ... he's a quietly busy man with a very private life and an unfeasibly large spread of duties. What's the big idea?

by Andrew Davidson

CEO of the motley conglomerate Centrica, chairman of Manchester United and the mover behind several Government initiatives ... he's a quietly busy man with a very private life and an unfeasibly large spread of duties. What's the big idea?

Sir Roy Gardner, chief executive of Centrica and chairman of Manchester United, is probably what you'd call adaptable. When he was young, he wanted to be a footballer - 'left or right winger, didn't care which side I played' - but settled for a traineeship at British Aircraft Corporation because they had a great works team. Years later, he wanted to be Arnold Weinstock's successor at GEC but decided he'd never be picked over Arnold's son, so he simply took his ball elsewhere.

It paid off. Gardner is now one of the most influential executives in British business, a favourite of the Treasury and the third sector - chair of a new initiative to encourage apprenticeships, president of Carers UK, chairman of the Employers' Forum on Disability. And, like all adaptable people, he has proved to be a fast learner.

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