UK: Brain food - Lord MacLaurin - If I had to start again.

UK: Brain food - Lord MacLaurin - If I had to start again. - Although it's more than 40 years since I started sweeping floors at Tesco in Cheshunt, I would go back into retail. It remains a very exciting business and not just in the UK - there are now pl

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Although it's more than 40 years since I started sweeping floors at Tesco in Cheshunt, I would go back into retail. It remains a very exciting business and not just in the UK - there are now plenty of opportunities in retail abroad: Tesco has stores in places as far flung as Thailand and Korea. I think young people starting out today should maximise their education, go to university and get well qualified. When I joined Tesco, there was no graduate recruitment scheme - graduates didn't join retailers. But nowadays they do. They have to have a good education. And that's just the start: they should still begin at the bottom and work their way right through, from the bottom, to thoroughly understand the company. Another very important area is languages: I think in today's world, if you're going to progress, picking up a couple of languages is of great benefit. You should also really be up to speed on technology. But don't get so caught up in the technological revolution that you think people don't count. It's madness to think that you can run a business by just turning on a computer. Keep yourself fit and healthy. Someone who does regular exercise and is in good shape will perform better in most situations than someone who doesn't.

So there's not all that much I'd change. But overall, I do think you need to have people and building relationships with people high up on your agenda. Get people on your side, treat them well and they'll pay you back in spades.

Lord MacLaurin was chairman of Tesco, 1985-97.

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