You live and you learn: Andy Bond

The Asda chairman on good timing, why exams don't matter and why he's less competitive than he was.

by Hannah Prevett
Last Updated: 06 Sep 2015

Failing my 11-plus was a pivotal moment. I knew if I didn't get into grammar school, it could fundamentally change my life. I worked hard and was transferred to the grammar school after a year.

I'm an amazingly boring person. I work, exercise and spend time with my family. If you're going to do a big job you've got to find ways to de-stress, and for me doing a lot of exercise has always helped.

You need to know when it's time to move on. I felt I'd done my bit at Asda and not just as chief exec - I'd been at the company for 16 years by the time I resigned as CEO.

I am less competitive than I used to be. I try not to benchmark myself against other graduates of the Asda school of management (such as Justin King and Richard Baker). We're all good - we're just different.

I'm apolitical. My wife has to remind me to vote. When you're employing 170,000 people, I think you've got an obligation to be non-political. They shouldn't be influenced by the person they work for.

My year at Cranfield was a purple patch. I met my wife, learnt a lot and came top of my MBA class.

Moving back to Leeds was a very conscious decision - it wasn't a no-brainer. At the time I could have considered jobs at other companies, as I wasn't moving to be chief exec but to be part of the top team. I was making an investment in the hope that at some point I would have the chance to run the company.

Retail is still a good career. I think retailing is respected more in the UK. People like Sir Terry Leahy and Sir Stuart Rose are well-respected businessmen in a way that often retailers in other nations aren't.

Know when it's time to go home. You can always work that extra half an hour, but I try to have a balance. I've always been very determined not to be so obsessed with work that I'm not a good parent.

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