Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

HE&me

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

HE&me

Article excerpt

Claude Littner has been chairman and chief executive of Lord Sugar's Amstrad International and was also chief executive of Tottenham Hotspur from 1993 to 1998. Most recently he was chairman of IT company Viglen. He is also well known for interviewing candidates on the BBC's The Apprentice. Last month he opened the Claude Littner Business School at the University of West London, where he was a student

Businessmen and women often cite experience as crucial to success. How do you equate the importance of the theoretical knowledge of a business degree with hands-on involvement in the industry?

There is no substitute for relevant experience. Theoretical knowledge has two functions: first, the sheer pleasure of learning from the thoughts and experience of others; and second, to frame your decision-making when faced with the complexities of trying to navigate through business problems in the real world.

MBAs at UK universities can cost tens of thousands of pounds. Is this a worthwhile investment?

The prospect of incurring the expense is a genuine concern and should not be taken lightly, nor should the amount of work required to achieve the qualification. However, there is significant evidence to show that having an MBA will help career advancement, and I would encourage able graduates to make the sacrifice and go for it.

Entrepreneurship is an area that is starting to get a foothold in business degrees and beyond. Do you think there should be an element of instruction in entrepreneurship across all degrees?

In virtually every walk of life and course of study, having an understanding of business is an advantage. Entrepreneurship is an essential part of a business degree course. It brings to the fore not only case studies but also people who have built up businesses, taken the risks inherent in doing so, and are prepared to share these experiences with students.

On The Apprentice you are notoriously straight-talking in interviews, often resulting in an uncomfortable-looking interviewee. What is your most awkward/embarrassing moment in a job interview?

The interview is a formal process, and I have very limited experience of being interviewed. I don't think I would like it, and would not tolerate the Claude Littner approach!

From someone who knows, what was it actually like to run a big Premier League club?

Being chief executive of Tottenham Hotspur was a challenge, and I relish challenges. …

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