Sir Gerry Robinson

There aren't many things that you plan. I certainly didn't in any way plan a career.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

At 13, I was going to be a priest and went to a seminary, and if there was one thing that I would change, I probably wouldn't have gone. By the time I was 17, I decided it was all just nonsense, largely because I had discovered girls and that seemed a lot more exciting than being a priest. It's with hindsight that I recognise I shouldn't have gone, but I also had a sense of knowing it at the time.

I made a similar mistake with my first marriage, at 21. I simply didn't acknowledge my own doubts at the time. I also regret deeply not going to university. I would have read English. God knows where that would have taken me, although I think I would still have gone into business. There are loads of business decisions I would have handled differently. The most obvious one was when I fired David Plowright (at Granada). I genuinely had no idea how much fuss that would cause. I'd spent my business career in companies where you were bloody lucky to get an article in The Caterer.

Suddenly, this thing. I felt like a complete idiot. Even my mother was saying: 'Why did you do that? You seem like quite a nice chap!' I would still have got rid of him but probably have put him into some other role; just made it quiet - probably wrongly but for my own selfish reasons - not to have to face all this bloody barrage of publicity. I really have always had a decent balance between work and family. I've never been a workaholic. I think that if I could have avoided it, I wouldn't have worked at all! I'd have painted if I hadn't had a career in business. I can paint well and I enjoy doing it, and if I have a day when I'm painting I'm a very happy boy.

Sir Gerry Robinson was appointed non-exec chairman of Allied Domecq in 2002. He was previously chairman of the Arts Council; CEO and subsequently chairman of Granada Group; and MD of Grand Metropolitan Contract Services (which later became Compass Holdings).

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