MT's Leadership Week: Serco's Chris Hyman

In the first of our exclusive podcast interviews: Chris Hyman on the challenges of running a PLC...

Last Updated: 09 Jul 2013

Under the leadership of Chris Hyman, little-known service-supply company Serco has grown into one of Britain’s biggest businesses – revenues were £2.8bn last year, as it shot up to fourth place in MT’s annual list of Britain’s Most Admired Companies. Hyman is not your average FTSE CEO: he once ran the 100m in 10.8s; he’s recorded an album of gospel music; he fasts every Tuesday and gives away 10% of his salary as a tithe; he goes running twice a day and only sleeps four hours a night. More importantly, he also speaks fluently and passionately about talent development, launching an internal programme last year to identify and develop the best leaders in his organisation.

So all in all, he seemed the perfect choice to kick off MT’s first ever Leadership week, a series of five exclusive interviews with leaders from five very different backgrounds. In our chat with Hyman, [which you can listen to above or download HERE (by right-clicking and selecting 'Save Target As...')] the Serco boss tells us what leadership means to him – and talks about the challenges of leading a sprawling public company that employs about 50,000 people and operates in over 30 countries across several different markets.

He starts by telling us what he thinks makes a great leader: ‘Leadership is more than just management, it’s about something very personal’. He talks about the development of his own style, and outlines the influence of his upbringing (he’s a South African Indian, raised in Durban during the apartheid era), of his religious beliefs (he’s a devout Christian) and also of his predecessor at Serco, Richard White.

‘I’m not afraid in any audience to actually say that I was wrong, from fear of how it will seem. I don’t do that calculation.’ (Chris Hyman)

Elsewhere, Hyman also tells us:

  • Why he likes making people laugh;
  • Why leaders are made, rather than (just) born;
  • Why honesty is the mark of a great leader;
  • How the leader’s role is changing, as the world changes; and even
  • What the subject of his first business book would be

Once you’ve listened to the interview, we’re sure you’ll agree that he definitely has a book in him...

To read MT’s profile of Chris Hyman (from the December issue), click HERE.

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