January 2, 2019
What do you consider to be the greatest feat in business and why?
The greatest ‘business’ feat I have come across (as opposed to have heard about or witnessed from afar) has to be Sage Group Plc. David Goldman and Graham Wylie set up Sage in 1981, when computers and systems were in such a state of infancy. The steps taken from launch to flotation and then beyond were almost textbook in delivery.
What is the greatest physical feat you’ve witnessed by an individual and why?
My family applied for tickets to dozens of events at the London Olympics and were successful in getting seats for only one – which turned out to be ‘Super Saturday’! That night, we saw an individual transform from ‘potential talent’ to ‘the real deal’. We will never forget the noise when Mo Farah hit the front two laps out in the 10,000m. I couldn’t believe the speed and the stamina he had.
What about by a group or team?
This may raise a few eyebrows, particularly bearing in mind their recent troubles, but I’m going to say Durham County Cricket Club. What I feel received little coverage outside of the region, and even within the sport itself, was the fact that Durham only became a first-class county in 1992, but between 2007 and 2014 spectacularly won five major trophies, including three County Championships.
Which demonstration of intelligence/mental strength has most impressed you?
I’ve worked with some highly-intelligent people, as you would expect, yet have always been surprised how ‘intelligence’ doesn’t always seem to be associated with common sense. I prefer to use the word ‘wisdom’ to measure people that I admire; people who have demonstrated that utopia of supreme intelligence and judgement, combined with the understanding of timing but also with an empathy for the people striving to help them achieve their goals.
Which act of generosity has inspired you the most and why?
I have worked with a great number of North East-based charities and foundations, primarily investing their funds in order to help them grow. Many were created through the generosity of single philanthropists, most of whom wanted to ‘give something back’ after running hugely- successful businesses. Laudable though that is, I do feel those people who set up charities without the backing of immediate wealth deserve even greater recognition.
Lesley Hanson, who founded the hugely impressive Autism charity Daisy Chain, in 2003 in Teesside, is a great example. Yes, funds did come in from wealthy backers in time, without whom the charity couldn’t be where it is today, helping over 2000 families a year, but without that initial vision and determination, the charity wouldn’t exist. There are many more similar examples across our region and each one should be heralded by our society rather more than they are.