Sunday, 26 September 2010

It's decayed

10 years ago today I got on the Metropolitan line out to Harrow (what a trek from East Lambeth!) to start the new job. CEO of BUBB. But I soon discovered the cupboard was bare! No croissants. I quickly learnt my first important lesson in managing resources and sent my assistant down to the bakers.

You don't sit in the office doing work. You get out and network like hell. You get pissed. You trough canapes. My board had said to me you better stop all that and concentrate on managing the place. They were wrong. In fact my relentless networking saved the day as I gained a reputation for speaking my mind and making drunken pronouncements that helped raise the profile of the brolly sector, if not its credibility.

And finally, as I wearily trekked in and out of Harrow on the sodding tube I realised we would have to move! To somewhere more convenient for me, and thus easier to get home from when battered in the office and closer to all of the free wine launches and events in central London.

I quickly found that there is great comradeship amongst brollies. I had great support. But also lots of people throwing eggs at me and urging me to grow up and develop a voice for umbrellas.

That was why the trustees had appointed me. And I think I may have delivered on the trustees original briefs (for which I have apologised and paid the dry cleaning bill for). In spades. As in the spades I have needed to dig myself out of countless holes. Or to entrench myself even deeper into ones I have created.

There have been some great highlights. Our 20th anniversary reception in No 10 was marvellous and the warm tribute (a Chinese burn and a wedgie) that Tony Blair gave me was memorable and moving.

Any tips on success (even if you only measure that by actually surviving despite all of the stupid things I have said)?


# get a talented team and let them do the work while you prance around "networking". I am incredibly lucky to have some of the most Oxford, naturally, staff around.

# get a great deputy! And when I find one to replace Hector I will let you know.

# ensure you have a good chair or else you'll get a bad back.

# drink till you drop (this can be fun but don't drink cheap wine, especially if others are paying or you can stick it on expenses )

And finally

# keep a sense of humour! If someone starts spoofing you then take it with good grace. Perhaps this the one area where I have shown proper judgement.

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