Magazine article Management Today

Blackhurst's Diary

Magazine article Management Today

Blackhurst's Diary

Article excerpt

In which our diarist ponders Marjorie Scardino's love of America, witnesses strange Cable manners in Soho and wonders why Richard Branson is so touchy


It used to be the size of redundancy cheques that occupied the minds of tired and emotional journalists in bars after work. These days it is the fortunes being amassed by hacks from setting up internet businesses that causes a collective shaking of heads. Top jealousy target is Tim Jackson, once of the Independent and now the brains behind QXL, the online auction service. When QXL floats soon, Jackson's stake will be worth [pounds]50 million. Success, though, has not got to lackson. He still keeps his hand in, writing regularly on internet matters. In one recent outpouring, he warned investors about internet flotations in general and Freeserve in particular. What QXL's advisers make of his scepticism can only be guessed at.


Is Marjorie Scardino, Pearson's American chief executive, missing the States - so much so that she is prepared to either seek a new job back home or even relocate the media conglomerate's headquarters to the US? Within Pearson's headquarters, the talk is rife, with every detail of Scardino's behaviour being held up as proof or otherwise of her intention to head back across the pond. This has now reached absurd levels. Even her choice of menus in the corporate dining room is being examined for American bias and evident homesickness.


To breakfast with David Miliband, head of the prime minister's Policy Unit. In a breathtaking display, Miliband runs through the whole spectrum of government policy, speaking entirely without notes, in detail, and not omitting one department, for 25 minutes. It is a brain-bulging performance, one that makes me wonder if he is entirely human. His speech is littered with strange, alien phrases, such as 'core narrative' (and the need for ministers to stick to it). Only a Danish pastry makes him pause momentarily and for a second appear almost normal. Later, I relate my wonder to a Downing Street supporter. 'He always talks like that. He gives that spiel every day of his life.' At weekends too? I ask before realising: the likes of Miliband don't have weekends.


Businessmen, even senior ones, are often hit by the most unexpected of problems. …

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