Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Leaders Need a Solid Inside Knowledge

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Leaders Need a Solid Inside Knowledge

Article excerpt

Re "Leading question: scholar or executive?", News, 16 January. There is a myth that top executives from one field do well in another. For example, it was thought that stuffy engin-eers were ill-suited to the brave world of maintaining UK railways - much better a bunch of management high-flyers; a few broken rails and fatalities later, we learned differently.

The most successful UK companies often appoint people who know the industry (it's very rare for someone who is not steeped in retail to get a big job in the retail sector).

The best leaders I have worked for and encountered are those who have the strongest academic records.

The problems in academia, I believe, lie in the career path to the top and the attitude of the governing councils.

A big administrative job is often damaging to an academic career if it comes early; for lab-based scientists, it is in almost every case a one- way ticket: do it and there's no way back to the old job. Often the people with the right skill set and academic credibility wait too long to climb on the rungs. …

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