With a career spanning four decades, I thought I had seen everything, and then C-19 hit us out of the blue! As horrendous as it has been, most businesses will recover. But it is going to take intelligence, patience, maybe some increased risk and, perhaps, a bit of luck too.
My early career, working in the City of London, was during the regular IRA bomb scares and incidents – but we stayed calm, got through it, and moved on. Following a career change, my first major task was to reduce a sales-team of 300 down to sixty. I then worked through a huge merger of two familiar household branded companies. My next position involved rebuilding a brand and the service proposition for a company that experienced an infamous tragedy, followed by historic
industrial relations issues (and still do!). Some years later, we also had to face up to a new competitor, who had the capacity to swallow-up the whole of the market. Ultimately, we merged the business with its main rival. The next hurdle I faced, involved the re-birth of a former nationalised industry. That required delicate industrial relations negotiations and then brand repositioning, to achieve massive growth targets. Having developed the structure to deliver the new business model, we then re-branded the most densely utilised transport business in the UK.
Following this, I spent another period of dramatic change in a sector that was soon to have up to 50% of its annual revenues and profits extinguished overnight. After all these changes, I am proud to say, each of these businesses still operate today. This proves that change, no matter how great or unplanned, can produce better, stronger, profitable businesses.
Having just bought my own company in Jan. 2000, the unprecedented attack of 9/11 happened, followed by SARS, tsunamis and volcanic ash clouds, the financial crash of 2008 (plus the ensuing years of austerity), all topped-off by Brexit. Apart from running my own business, I also worked closely with two other companies over the past four years. Each of these, travel related businesses, were impacted greatly in 2015 & 2016 by the terrorist atrocities taking place in Europe and further afield. That brings us to today, where the C-19 pandemic is still creating never-before seen
pressures, changing both our personal and business lives forever. Finally, the recent invasion of Ukraine is forcing us to reassess so many things we have taken for granted for so long. The only thing we can be 100% certain of is, there will be further, unforeseen crises that will impact our lives and businesses. At times like these, it is your People (staff, customers, stakeholders, shareholders, suppliers), your Products/Services, and your Strategy that your survival comes down to. Ignore these at your peril. Get one of these areas wrong, and everything will be jeopardised.
Now in my fifth decade of working, I am assisting a fabulous, small, private charity to create opportunities for adults with learning disabilities. Even here, 35 years after they began operating, change is still imperative to survive.
- Do nothing – and it is likely your business will fail.
- Do something – and you will wish you had considered change much sooner.
Forty plus years of experience has shown me what can work….and what does not!
▪ Canadian Pacific (Accounts Executive) 1975-77
▪ Unilever Foods Group (National Accounts Manager) 1978-89
▪ P&O Ferries (Sales & Marketing Director) 1989-97
▪ Connex Rail (now Southeastern Railway) – (Commercial Director) 1997-98
▪ Eurotunnel (Sales & Marketing Director) 1998-2000
▪ Simpson Recruitment (Owner) 2000-present
▪ Social Enterprise Manager (part-time – The Fifth Trust) 2021-present