If I had to start again ... Rod Aldridge

The founder of Capita on his frustrated dancing ambitions, and his notorious departure from the firm.

by Hannah Prevett
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

As a child, I had a great home life, but I didn't have the tools to be as good as I felt I should be academically. And that's quite frustrating. But if you've got determination, you find other routes. One of mine was sport - I was good at football and cricket.

I was also very good at dance. I competed in modern sequence dancing from the age of eight to 19 - I even danced at the Royal Albert Hall. That gave me the supreme confidence I was good at something: it showed me that I had the ability to do something others admire.

I suppose I have effectively started again - twice. I have worked in the public sector, in business and now in the third sector, at the Aldridge Foundation. Not many people can say that. It wasn't easy leaving Capita. Capita was related to Rod Aldridge - it almost meant too much to me to let it go. A lot of entrepreneurs struggle to get the timing right as to when they leave the business, but I was in danger of staying longer than was right for me.

The circumstances around my departure weren't very pleasant. (Aldridge resigned as chairman of Capita after it was revealed that he had lent the Labour Party £1m. The accusation was that Capita secured Government contracts as a result.) As far as I was concerned, I had made a personal decision, but I was caught up in a much bigger story. I certainly don't feel aggrieved by what happened. It would have been far worse to have left a business if I'd fallen out with long-term colleagues, or if I'd underperformed for shareholders. I did neither.

The excitement of starting a business and seeing it grow - particularly the way Capita did - is phenomenal. But when I retired from the company, I wanted a change. The main distinction is that the form of accountability at a charity is different. As chairman of a plc, I was accountable to shareholders. Now, people put trust in me to change their lives where others have failed them. That's quite a responsibility.

- Rod Aldridge founded Capita and is now chairman of the Aldridge Foundation

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