I've never thought about success in a deterministic way. I was tremendously pleased with my 14 years at the Science Museum. It is something I can point to and say 'I did that'. But it was the people involved that I was most proud of. Over the years I've been the first employer to people who then made it to the top. It is tremendously satisfying to think I might've contributed to their success. For example, Mark Pemberton, the business director of English Heritage, first worked for me as a litter collector. Of course, they've done it by their own efforts, but it's nice to think I gave them the start. I don't understand why serving customers to a good standard isn't the most important thing to all those working for a company. Those for whom it isn't are deprived, because the satisfaction is immense. If people value and respect you, it is almost a spiritual satisfaction. For me, standing in the big East Hall of the Science Museum and hearing the buzz of people really enjoying themselves was my definition of success. And I feel exactly the same now when I'm standing in an English Heritage property.
Sir Neil Cossons succeeded Sir Jocelyn Stevens as chairman of English Heritage in April 2000, having previously spent 14 years as director of the Science Museum, London. He is a also governor of the Royal College of Art and a trustee of the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust.