I have been privileged and fortunate to interview a number of high profile business leaders. This is a selection of some of those people.
Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou
Stelios is best known for creating easyJet.com in 1995 when he was just 28 years old. The low cost airline that revolutionised European air travel over the last 25 years now carries over 100 million passengers p.a. with a fleet of c. 350 Airbus aircraft flying to more than 30 countries.
Sir John Harvey Jones
Sir John Harvey-Jones MBE was an English businessman. He was the chairman of Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) from 1982 to 1987. He was best known by the public for his BBC television show, Troubleshooter, in which he advised struggling businesses. Sir John was a lovely gentle man to interview. When asked if he was on his way to heaven or hell he replied, "I should think hell probably. I don’t want to sound pious but I actually have tried to do good in my life but you know you’re thoughtless or you make mistakes. And I think there’s more room in hell - they burn up so fast that there’s always space. Where heaven I think is a hard call".
Amanda Thompson MBE
Amanda Thompson has been the managing director of Blackpool Pleasure Beach since 2004. The historic amusement park is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the U.K. She is the fourth generation of her family to head up the park founded by her great grandfather, W.G. Bean, in 1896. Her grandmother, Doris Bean Thompson, and grandfather, Leonard Thompson, assumed leadership in 1931. Her father, Geoffrey Thompson, oversaw the business from 1976 until 2004. Amanda is also president of Stageworks Worldwide Productions, director of Big Blue Hotel and a patron of the Grand Theatre, Blackpool
Kirit Pathak OBE
They call him the Curry King. I was fortunate to interview Kirit twice and also enjoyed lunch with him and Cherie Blair (along with a hundred other journalists!). He also happens to be one of the nicest men I have ever met. Pataks provides sauces to more than 75% of curry houses and restaurants in the country. His personal “trek” began in 1952 in Kisumu, Kenya when born to Indian parents who soon after moved to Britain. As if being an Indian/Kenyan immigrant wasn’t enough he was then packed off to Ireland to be educated by Catholics. According to his family Kirit Pathak bears more than a passing resemblance to Jean Luc Picard. And he confesses that whilst he may be thought of as Captain Spice - having opened what is believed to be the largest Indian food factory in the world – he would much rather be Captain of the Starship Enterprise – yes, he is in fact a real life Trekkie! Kirit and his wife Meena sold the business in 2007 for c£200m.
Dawn Gibbins MBE
Dawn Gibbins MBE was the Vueve Cliquot Business Women of the year who started the industrial flooring company Flowcrete in 1982 in Sandbach, Cheshire together with her late father, Peter Gibbins. She oversaw its growth, covering 30 offices worldwide and 12 manufacturing sites in the UK, Asia, Sweden, Belgium, South Africa, US and Brazil. Flowcrete was sold to New York Stock Exchange listed company RPM in April 2008.
Sir Bill Beaumont CBE, DL
Sir William Blackledge Beaumont, CBE, DL is a former rugby union player, and was captain of the England rugby union team, earning 34 caps. His greatest moment as captain was the unexpected 1980 Grand Slam. He is currently chairman of the International Rugby Board and was Chairman of the Rugby Football Union from 2012 to 2016. In 2016 he was elected Chairman of World Rugby. Sir Bill became a regular contestant on the BBC quiz show A Question of Sport, eventually becoming the show's longest-serving captain. He is also the managing director of his family's textile business in Lancashire, which is the only remaining textile manufacturer in Chorley.