BRAIN FOOD: Sir Bob Reid - If I had to start again ..

BRAIN FOOD: Sir Bob Reid - If I had to start again .. - I would go home at five o'clock one cold October evening in 1943, instead of staying on to help in my father's butcher shop mincing fat for suet.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I would go home at five o'clock one cold October evening in 1943, instead of staying on to help in my father's butcher shop mincing fat for suet.

During this operation, in an attempt to unstick a live machine, I lost my right hand.

At age nine I had dramatically encountered a catastrophic injury, but the accident only sharpened my desire to be part of the action. From the wild-cat oil platforms of Borneo to the large refineries of the UK and on to the world of express trains and submarines, that desire has certainly not changed. Achievement is never without responsibility and responsibility never without risk. Making things happen is a state of mind, and the joy of leadership lies as much in overcoming setbacks as in enjoying the rewards of success.

For young people today there is a greater wealth opportunity than there was 50 years ago. This must be good, with one proviso - it must not become the end in itself. For the men and women of the oil business it was the challenge of taking oil from hostile seas or deep jungle all the way to the petrol pump that was their motivation, not the prize money. Being part of this creative process would still be my ambition, and at the end of such a career it is the memories that sparkle, not the demands.

But if I really did have a chance to start again, I would be in hot pursuit of Tiger Woods.

Sir Bob Reid was chairman and chief executive of Shell UK 1985-90 and is now deputy governor of the Bank of Scotland.

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