Magazine article Management Today

You Live & You Learn: Marcus Agius, Chairman of PA Consulting and Former Barclays Chairman

Magazine article Management Today

You Live & You Learn: Marcus Agius, Chairman of PA Consulting and Former Barclays Chairman

Article excerpt

I started my career as an engineer at armaments firm Vickers but left after a few years to become a banker.

They aren't so different. Think of words like leverage, gearing and synergies. If you can solve a mechanical problem you can solve a financial one.

Harvard Business School has a zero sum grading system, so to get into the top 10%, like I did, you just need to make sure 90% of your peers do worse than you do. Your colleagues are your competitors. They can be your friends too, but you need to remember both elements are always present.

I stayed at merchant bank Lazard for 34 years. Sometimes I thought this showed no imagination, but I could so often say that if they'd sold tickets for what I'd seen that day, I'd have bought one. Instead, I was well remunerated of course, which is even better.

The City was completely different in the 1970s. People wore stiff collars and never used your first name. Our chairman, the austere Highlander Sir Ian Fraser, once roasted me because there was a full stop missing in a piece of work. If a client saw that, they'd doubt the quality of the rest of it. I learned my lesson. If people send me sloppy work I send it back.

It was a huge responsibility being chairman of Barclays during the financial crisis. …

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