Don't imagine that the former boss of Glaxo, maestro of two of the greatest takeovers of the pharmaceuticals sector, has become rector of Imperial College to enjoy a life of cloistered ease. He's there strictly to put it on a business footing and to steer it to a prosperous future.
On the ground floor of the building that houses Sir Richard Sykes's office, a group of youngsters sit in a huddle on the floor. They wear the urban street uniform of the modern student: trainers, combats, rucksacks. Branded of course. Lost in their own thoughts, they don't look up when a visitor arrives.
Upstairs, on the fifth floor, Sykes is complaining about the heat in his glass-fronted office. The sun is shining and the temperature inside is climbing. There's no air-conditioning. Despite the stuffiness, Sykes keeps his pinstripe suit jacket on. His shirtsleeves remain down, his collar buttoned up, his tie tightly knotted.