Leadership lessons: Mervyn Davies, former CEO of Standard Chartered and trade minister

"People talk about pressure – I worked 24 hours a day. There is more pressure on political leaders than I ever saw in the corporate world.”

by Matthew Gwyther

Every organisation needs a Mervyn Davies. Someone with positive energy, enthusiasm, an ability to make things happen and to spot talent who will follow them. He’s the epitome of a glass-half-full kind of person – and UK business could probably benefit from a few such leaders in these uncertain times. 

Lord Davies of Abersoch is a 67-year-old pocket rocket, dressed in an Ozwald Boateng suit, casual but very soigné John Smedley polo neck and suede Chelsea boots (all British designed and made). In his youth, Davies might have been described as “nattily dressed”. He has a glint in his eye and a bright Hollywood smile. 

Davies is a grandee of UK business with a CV as broad as it is long. As well as commanding big day jobs at Standard Chartered, first as CEO and then chairman, and working in government as trade minister during the post-2008 financial crisis, past and present chairmanships include Jack Wills, private equity outfit Corsair Capital, Mikhail Fridman’s LetterOne, the Lawn Tennis Association and the Royal Academy. He has been a non- executive director of Tesco and Diageo, is a senior advisor to Teneo, a board member at Tottenham Hotspur and a member of the World Rugby executive committee. 

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