My lucky break came when the Courage group finance director retired and I took over at the age of 31 - that's what got me off the bottom rung.
Getting that job gave me the kick-off I needed. I've always been quite ambitious and wanted to be involved with bigger, growing, successful organisations, and the brewing industry gave me that start. I can't complain about what I've been through over the past 40 years. I've worked for interesting companies and found myself in interesting situations, including the job at BNFL. It got really problematical within a month of me being there.
One issue after the other came rolling out, but it enabled us to make significant change, and sometimes you need a crisis to do that. Although I said to myself 'What am I doing here?', the situation was probably an advantage, otherwise I'd have had to dribble out change over a longer period. It was a fascinating challenge and actually quite fun. If there has been a dire moment, I'd probably have regarded it as a challenge.
Sir Hugh Collum retired as chairman of BNFL in May. He was previously CFO of SmithKline Beecham and group FD of Cadbury Schweppes. He is an NED of Whitehead Mann Group.