Five things you didn't know about these FTSE CEOs

FTSE 100 bosses aren't all balance sheets and powerpoint presentations: MT reveals the five quirkiest...

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 13 May 2015

1. Incoming Burberry CEO Christopher Bailey is obsessed with dry-stone walling

'It’s a complete joke in my family because I've always loved dry-stone walling… I keep saying I'm going to learn how to dry-stone wall, and all I've ever done is … watch people dry-stone wall,' Bailey told British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman at the Vogue Festival last year.

More interesting than watching paint dry. But only just.

2. Imperial Tobacco chief executive Alison Cooper is a fan of cigars

You’d hope a tobacco baroness would be woman enough to puff her own products, wouldn’t you? We’re yet to learn, though, whether Cooper smokes a Romeo y Julieta a la Winston Churchill or is a comrade-in-cigars with Cuba’s geroncrat numero uno Fidel Castro, who has a penchant for Cohibas.

Speaking of Churchill…

3. Rupert Soames, CEO of Aggreko, is the wartime Prime Minister’s grandson

We’re not sure whether Soames has ever urged his company to ‘fight them on the beaches’, although he does describe his hobbies as ‘anything wet and windy’. Battle-ready tactics may have come in useful, though, in powering some pretty complex projects – from Japan’s post-tsunami power gap after Fukishima conked out, to the London Olympics and Glastonbury.

4. Unilever boss Paul Polman started training as a priest in a Carmelite seminary

Polman also thought about being a doctor, before deciding that his future lay in soap and Marmite. It hasn’t stopped him trying to save the world though: Polman wants to end world hunger and makes water-saving detergents. He runs marathons. He has three children. What can’t this man do?

5. Admiral CEO Henry Engelhardt set up a Ministry of Fun when he founded the company

Organised playtime at the insurer includes table football and yearly ‘egg roulette’, where one in six eggs cracked over people’s heads aren’t boiled. Pretty jokes if you’re not the one with egg yolk dribbling into your ears. Engelhardt is not immune to the power of a cheesy metaphor, also handing out puzzle pieces to employees to remind them that they’re nothing if they’re not part of a bigger picture.

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