You live and you learn: Edwina Dunn of Dunnhumby

The co-founder and CEO of Tesco Clubcard pioneer Dunnhumby on working with her husband, being sued and working with Tesco.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 18 Oct 2011

I was a tomboy as a child. When I was six, I wanted to be a truck driver. The open roads, big rigs, the lights - I thought it was terribly glamorous.

I met my husband (Clive Humby) on my first day at work in 1980. When he resigned after nine years, I was fired 10 minutes later. For three months we had an injunction put on us, which meant we couldn't work. It was very scary, as we had a huge mortgage.

Being sued by our ex-employer was the best and worst of times. It's how you recover from those bleak moments that gives you the impetus to convert a potential disaster into something extraordinary.

There aren't as many incentives for entrepreneurs today. We started the business in the 1989 recession and there was lots of support, but now the tax system for entrepreneurs is worse than it's ever been.

Clive and I are strong opposites. He's very numerate, while I create the teams and build the workforce. I also negotiate with the retailers. Retailers are really tough negotiators - but I love a challenge.

Never hire anyone you wouldn't introduce to your parents. We get on well with all our staff; everyone here we really like.

Tesco has always challenged us. It has enormously strong and talented leaders who require you to step up, but that has made us grow.

I've made so many bad decisions. The ones that hurt most are about people. When someone doesn't work out it's heartbreaking.

We created a joint-venture in America. People said we were crazy and that we were giving away half the business - but the business grew bigger because of it.

After I retire, I want to make a short film. It looks enormous fun.

I don't see this as officially retiring. We want some time and space to re-energise. We've been working with Dunnhumby for 21 years.

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