Brain Food: Lord Haskins - If I had to start again

Brain Food: Lord Haskins - If I had to start again - Farmer, agricultural journalist or handyman would all be possible alternative careers.

by LORD HASKINS, non-executive chairman of Northern Foods
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Farmer, agricultural journalist or handyman would all be possible alternative careers.

I come from a family that has been farming for generations in Ireland, and I too planned to become a farmer when I left Trinity College, Dublin, but a family complication made this impossible. Next, I had always been keen on writing at university, editing the student magazine and doing bits for the still-magnificent Irish Times. The then editor indicated to my family, obliquely and without reference to me, that he might have a job for me, but this offer was not passed on. So, I became a businessman.

I've enjoyed most of my business life, having helped to build a smallish business into a not so small one. I've enjoyed the thrill of competition, and the tangible measure of achievement that business provides. It's a waste of time regretting mistakes and fretting about what might have been - the past, as LP Hartley said, is another country. But my greatest business mistake was to invest in the US food industry. I assumed that a common language implied common business values. I was wrong.

Now that I'm non-executive chairman I am able, for the first time in 40 years, to write a bit. I keep my hand in on the stuff I know most about: exploiting the British palate. But at heart I am a farmer who is also a campaigner and I find myself enthralled by the farms of two of my sons, and stimulated by the challenge and immaturity of the process of government.

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