Lessons in winning a contract from Michael Heseltine

ONE MINUTE BRIEFING: How the former deputy PM and founder of Management Today took inspiration from British Leyland to win his first big publishing pitch.

by Management Today
Last Updated: 14 Dec 2018

Lord Heseltine is best known as a Conservative Party grandee and front bench veteran, but he started his career in publishing, as the owner of Haymarket Media Group – and publisher of Management Today.

Here he shares his business experience of winning a big contract as a relative unknown in 1966, drawing lessons from the legendary boss of British Leyland, Donald Stokes.


"I started my career not as a politician but as a business owner. Back in 1960, my friend from Oxford – Clive Labovitch – and I did a property deal and made £30,000. We used the money to start a publishing company and buy our first magazine, Man About Town. We transformed that tatty trade rag into a stylish and pioneering men's magazine. 

"Then we heard that the British Institute of Management’s magazine – another grotty piece of trade publishing – was up for tender. Inspired by British Leyland boss Donald Stokes, who won a contract to build 32 buses in Sweden by building one from scratch, shipping it to Sweden and presenting it at the pitch while his competitors were still haggling over price, we put together a 96-page magazine in one weekend. "This is what we can do," we said.

"We started publishing Management Today in 1966 – the year England won the World Cup and the year I became an MP."

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For tips on winning contracts, see this piece. Capita founder Rod Aldridge offers his experience pitching for government work here, while to read Michael Heseltine’s response to the Government’s Industrial Strategy green paper, see here.

Image credit: Policy Exchange/Flickr (Creative Commons)

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