Magazine article Management Today

Sir Stuart Hampson: If I Had to Start Again

Magazine article Management Today

Sir Stuart Hampson: If I Had to Start Again

Article excerpt

I'd have to work somewhere that had a similar approach to that of John Lewis - I couldn't work for an organisation that wasn't interested in what matters to its employees.

I arrived here by accident. I was 35, and had been in the Civil Service for 12 years, working as a private secretary to people like Roy Hattersley. I'd had a great time, but I was finding the lack of personal accountability increasingly frustrating. I'd begun feeling I didn't want to be there for another 25 years when I saw a job ad for John Lewis. It was the company's concept that appealed to me; retailing really came second. We all like to believe we control our lives, but it was a huge stroke of luck that I happened to be reading The Times that weekend. It just shows the importance of serendipity.

It was a great risk. I gave up a very stable career for something I had no experience in, with no guarantees. I started on the shop floor, and had soon done every job. I ran the mirrors department in John Lewis on Oxford Street, and fashion for Peter Jones, and was in charge of the Southampton branch within 18 months. …

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