With the benefit of hindsight, would I change things? Given that the important decisions in one's life are set in the context of that time, I think little would change. Sometimes there are lessons to be learned, and I have had a fair measure of those. There are some things I would have liked to have done, such as enjoy full-time university rather than the almost 12 years of part-time study for the various qualifications I achieved. I'd like to have devoted more time to rugby in my earlier years, but working full-time and studying part-time with a young family takes most of the seven days in a week! Perhaps a little more balance to family would have been sensible. Working internationally for Cadbury Schweppes was highly rewarding and challenging. My 27 years with the firm must go down as a high point. Starting off life as a management accountant has stood me in good stead for basing decisions on long-run-value addition.
Moving into a portfolio career involving non-executive directorships in a large management buy-out and in private businesses is a stimulating but less rewarding position than being a CEO of a large company. I enjoy the different business challenges and the greater control over my time.
The role of the non-executive director has become much more onerous, requires more time, and is under-rewarded. These people are the 'thin cats' of the business world.
Neville Bain retired as deputy CEO of Cadbury Schweppes in 1993. He was chief executive of Coats Viyella 1991-96 and chairman of the Post Office 1997-2001. He is now chairman of Hogg Robinson and a director of Scottish & Newcastle.