Brain Food: Sir Robin Saxby - If i had to start again ...

When I was young, I could see that banking and computing paid more than engineering. If money were my motive, I would have taken a completely different path. As it turns out, I've ended up with more money than most bankers, and had a more satisfying journey than most other people on the planet.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

When I was 13, I had a TV and radio repair business, which taught me some useful skills. But my first proper job offer came from the BBC. I'd studied electronics at university, and the Beeb offered me a job on the spot because I'd shown I understood colour TV, which was just coming out.

My wife reckons I'd have ended up on the other side of the camera, as I'm atypical for an engineer and fairly outgoing - maybe I could have presented Newsnight. But I turned the offer down. The BBC didn't make anything, and I wanted to be involved in manufacturing.

When we started ARM in 1990, I said we would become the global standard, that every company would be using our technology. We had £1.75 million, 12 engineers and myself, and I was saying we were going to change the world. Just about everybody thought I was mad. But we've since won prizes for doing just that.

My message is to plan, plan, plan. It doesn't matter if you change it later - just get it down. I wrote at 28 that I wanted to be a millionaire by 50. I got there a year late. I also said I'd gradually get closer to the academic world. Now I'm a visiting professor at Liverpool University.

It's scary to write it then see it happen. I'd always told the ARM board I didn't want to be chairman after a certain period - I had a planned exit, to avoid becoming a victim to the things around me. So I've been on the board of the Institute of Engineering and Technology for five years.

Becoming president is just another phase of my life.

Sir Robin Saxby retired as ARM chairman last month and became president of the Institute of Engineering and Technology.


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