Glaxo Wellcome's chief executive is one of a rare breed - a scientist who has made it to the top of British industry. So how does he feel, Andrew Davidson wonders, about being responsible for laying off a thousand scientists?
A man not afraid of making a bold move, Sir Richard Sykes, short, dapper and bespectacled, bounds across his office to say hello in his broad Yorkshire accent. There is no trace of majesty in the handshake, nor of aloofness in the manner, as you might have expected from the boss of what is now Britain's biggest company by market capitalisation. But then Sykes, chief executive of Glaxo Wellcome, to give him his full title, is a rare breed: one of the very few scientists ever to make it to the top of British industry. And he looks as if he is enjoying himself.