Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Rock Chief Who Is Putting Something Back; Local Hero: Brought Up in a North-East Mining Village, Bryan Sanderson Toyed with a Career in Politics before Becoming an Oilman and Banker. the Former Learning and Skills Council Chairman Still Helps to Run Urban Regeneration and Quality-of-Life Projects

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Rock Chief Who Is Putting Something Back; Local Hero: Brought Up in a North-East Mining Village, Bryan Sanderson Toyed with a Career in Politics before Becoming an Oilman and Banker. the Former Learning and Skills Council Chairman Still Helps to Run Urban Regeneration and Quality-of-Life Projects

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRIS BLACKHURST

AT a time like this, it seems perverse to say that Bryan Sanderson israther enjoying himself. Most people, on being offered the chalice that isNorthern Rock, would have refused.

There's Sanderson, 67, former chairman of Standard Chartered and BUPA. He'sliking his semiretirement, working one day a week on Sunderland arc, an urbanregeneration project; chairing Home Renaissance Foundation, aimed at improvingthe quality of life in the home; being a director of Chronic Care Foundation,promoting health in India. He was thinking of dabbling in private equity,possibly a day or two a week.

And he was watching his beloved Sunderland and the football club's return tothe Premiership.

So when headhunter Anna Mann calls suggesting he chair Northern Rock, you wouldthink Sanderson would politely decline. Not a bit of ithe agreed to meet, and ever since has been locked in crisis meetings andconference calls.

He did it, he says, because "I want to put something back and have greataffection for the area, and I like a challenge". When I query this with a closefriend of Sanderson, he says it's true. "Bryan thinks he's taken a lot out. Hereally does want to put something back. He also likes being involved." He's aGeordie ladraised in a North-East mining village, son of a local government rentcollector, educated at state school and Dame Allan's in Newcastle, beforeheading south to study at the London School of Economics.

There's more to it than that, though. He adores the interface of commerce andpolitics. He's close to the Labour hierarchy. Labour peer Tessa Blackstoneremains a good friend from LSE days and he was one of "three wise men" advisingTony Blair on competitiveness.

For four years he chaired Labour's favourite quango, the Learning and SkillsCouncil, intended to bolster prospects for over-16s.

He even toyed with the idea of a Labour political career. But a spell at theVoluntary Services Organisation in South America made him want to travel and,after contacting several companies, he settled on BP. "When I was 16, I plannedto be a great politician, but it didn't happen. My worst subject was chemistryand I became the head of a base chemical company!"

He stayed with BP for 36 years, rising to the board and becoming chief of BPChemicals. "I loved being a director of BP. It's immensely powerful. You'resitting there with a turnover of $150 billionalmost a small country. I'm interested in the use of power, whether it's moneyor politics. It was endlessly fascinating for me."

To his enormous regret, he lost out on the senior job to Lord Browne. "I got tothe top five or six." He's one of several BP management starsothers are Chris Gibson-Smith, chair of the London Stock Exchange and DickOlver, chair at BAE Systems who discovered their progress blocked by Browne.

Sanderson found the switch to banking easy. Charming and smooth, with hisclipped moustache and formal suits, he even looks more like a banker than anoilman.

HE lives in some style in Hampstead with his Swedish wife.

They have a large Victorian conservatory with palm trees (and a computerisedwatering system). …

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