BRAIN FOOD: Keith Egerton - If I had to start again

BRAIN FOOD: Keith Egerton - If I had to start again - As a teenager, my ambitions ranged between being a farmer, a rugby superstar and a pilot. Lack of capital, lack of talent and sub-standard polished shoes respectively ruled these out. It took a few yea

by KEITH EGERTON
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

As a teenager, my ambitions ranged between being a farmer, a rugby superstar and a pilot. Lack of capital, lack of talent and sub-standard polished shoes respectively ruled these out. It took a few years to land the job I aspired to. My first job, at a merchant bank in the City, had me living a disillusioned, rat-race existence, so I quickly moved on to run a regional office near Chichester. This, again, did not turn out as I'd anticipated - it was incredibly boring. My luck began when I secured a post at Laing, a company that offered great opportunities to young recruits and an environment that engendered ideas, innovation and initiative. My career as a surveyor began to take off and I was able to indulge my passion for architecture and fine buildings.

The pinnacle of my career came a lot later at Taylor Woodrow, when I helped secure the Bryant Group acquisition, the last but most important element of a strategy to refocus the company and transform it into the business it is today.

I've learned some invaluable lessons. First, that vast intellect is not necessarily the key to success. More important is to have plenty of common sense, drive and an ability to interact with people. Second, I'd advise any aspiring businessman to always question the ground rules - they are never set in stone. Starting again, I'd like to know these things from the outset and I'd hope to be able to work with some of the same calibre of people I've been lucky enough to work with so far.

Keith Egerton was group chief executive of Taylor Woodrow until his recent retirement.

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