UK: Britain's most admired companies - Meet the bosses.

UK: Britain's most admired companies - Meet the bosses. - The people who command maximum respect in corporate Britain.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The people who command maximum respect in corporate Britain.

1. TERRY LEAHY (42) TESCO CEO since 1997

Leahy's unflashy manner - 'more like a branch manager than a CEO' - could be down to background: Liverpool council house and a management course at UMIST. Under his leadership Tesco has become the biggest food retailer in Ireland, was the first supermarket to enter personal finance and is now expanding into eastern Europe. Ironically, 20 years ago, the company only gave him a job because another candidate was deemed overqualified.


Sunderland joined Cadbury in 1968, the year before it became Cadbury Schweppes. When he became CEO in 1996, the confectionery and soft-drinks company looked a likely takeover target; since then the share price has doubled and soft drinks, especially Dr Pepper, have boomed. Sunderland has publicly committed himself to doubling the share price again in the next five years.

3. WIN BISCHOFF (57) SCHRODERS chairman since 1995

As CEO of Schroders, German-born, South African-raised Bischoff, turned the group around, from '70s disaster-area to one of the UK's most successful quoted banks. Famed for his 'chameleon like ability to get on with anyone', Bischoff remains modest about the bank's success. Despite worries about Asia, he is upbeat about future Far Eastern acquisitions.

4. Sir John Browne (50) BP CEO since 1995

A famously hard-working, adventurous, life-long BP man Sir John recently pulled off the world's biggest merger with Amoco. The resultant $110 billion company now ranks with the global oil giants. Sir John is known for his broad spectrum of admirers: unusually for an oil chief, he has supporters in Friends of the Earth.


Leschly is famous for his early career (international tennis pro) but he has earned more money in pharmaceuticals. Since taking over in 1994, SKB's share price has more than trebled. But he has overseen two aborted mergers, AHP and Glaxo, which cast a pall over 1997, and is working hard to allay concerns about SKB's reliance on a handful of products.

6. SIR RICHARD SYKES (56) GLAXO WELLCOME chairman since 1997

Sykes is best known for masterminding the acquisition of Wellcome, though his year has been blighted by the failed £100 billion SKB merger. A scientist by training, he began his career in the company's pathology labs. He is known for his ruthless efficiency and - far rarer in a FTSE-100 chief - the messianic fervour of his belief in science.

7. NIALL FITZGERALD (53) UNILEVER chairman since 1996

An Irishman who joined Unilever as an accountant, FitzGerald took the well-trodden financial route to the top. Since becoming chairman in 1996, he has radically reorganised the business and shifted its focus away from mature western markets. A passionate pro-European and one-time Communist Party member, FitzGerald famously landed his first job at Unilever by accompanying a friend to his interview.

8. MARK MOODY-STUART (58) SHELL chairman since 1997

Moody-Stuart joined Shell as a geologist in 1966 and worked all over the globe before becoming group managing director in 1991. Since becoming chairman, he has slashed bureaucracy and shifted the company's emphasis towards its products, greatly reducing the power of its regional barons.

In contrast to his aloof and distant predecessors, Moody-Stuart is seen as one of a new, approachable breed of Shell bosses.


A long-time banker, Ellwood was CEO of Barclaycard before joining TSB in 1989. He took over from the accomplished Sir Brian Pitman in February this year and has indicated that there will be no change of direction - the company will concentrate on profitable areas of banking and drive costs down. Acquisitions in the UK life insurance and mortgage markets are also a possibility.

10. LORD BLYTH (58) THE BOOTS COMPANY chairman since 1998

After a varied career, Scottish born Blyth joined Boots as CEO in 1987.

Following an inaugural disaster - the hostile Ward White takeover - Boots has enjoyed a long run of success. Blyth, now executive chairman, was a City favourite for the NatWest chair. Undeterred by dissenting voices, he is famously impatient but also has a keen sense of humour.

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