Brain food: If I had to start again

Brain food: If I had to start again - With all the wisdom of hindsight, I find it easier to spell out the jobs I wouldn't want to do. But this is no time to be making fresh enemies.

by DENYS HENDERSON
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

With all the wisdom of hindsight, I find it easier to spell out the jobs I wouldn't want to do. But this is no time to be making fresh enemies.

I would love to have been a distinguished author like my heroes Kipling, Somerset Maugham and Lewis Grassic Gibbon. But I don't have the inspiration, facility with words or patience. In any event, I wouldn't like the solitary life of a writer. I would miss the regular contact with people. My original discipline, the law, has some appeal, but I prefer to be involved in making decisions rather than advising on them - so that wouldn't be a runner either.

Without any apology, it would have to be business again - building a profitable and expanding enterprise that satisfies customers, employees and shareholders alike, all of whom have a key role to play in a successful operation. I would want to manufacture real products from real assets to be sold worldwide. That has, up until now, given me a stimulating, varied and exciting career, with decent, friendly colleagues whose support has been invaluable. Mind you, one of them commented with some asperity: 'You've made the most of what you have.' On reflection, that's probably a fair verdict, particularly as I have also managed to balance demanding business imperatives with a very happy family life. If I had to start again, I would strive to achieve the same balance between job satisfaction and happiness in my personal life. Both are important ...

Sir Denys Henderson was chairman of ICI 1987-95.

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