Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Software Giant Boss Ready to Step Down

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Software Giant Boss Ready to Step Down

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Dent

THE boss of Sage says he has decided to step down from the software giant before he is too old to try his hand at something new.

Speaking to nebusiness, Paul Walker admitted it was a now or never decision to leave his job as chief executive of the Newcastle-based plc after 16 years in the hot seat.

"It was simple - I do this until I'm 60 or go now, when the business is in good shape," said Mr Walker.

"I'm 52 and I'd like to have a go at some other things. If I don't do it now, I'll never get the chance.

"It's a big decision but I'm sure it's the right one. There are a lot of opportunities out there in the market." Mr Walker, The Journal's North East Business Executive of the Year in 2004, said he told the Sage board about his intentions "a few weeks ago" but has not set a departure date.

He said: "At the moment, it's business as usual. I will work with the chairman and board to find a successor.

There is no urgency. I owe it to my mentor and Sage founder David Goldman."

Mr Walker joined the company 26 years ago, three years after it was founded by Mr Goldman and Graham Wylie to produce accountancy software packages for the business market.

Trained as a chartered accountant with Arthur Young, Mr Walker was employed as Sage's company accountant and appointed finance director in 1987, working on the firm's flotation two years later.

He became chief executive in 1994, taking over from Mr Goldman, and is credited with driving the international growth of the company through a series of acquisitions.

"I've done it for 16 years; I am the third longest-serving FTSE CEO," said Mr Walker.

Only Sir Martin Sorrell at advertising giant WPP and Tullow Oil's Aidan Heavey have headed FTSE companies for longer.

"Sixteen years is a long spell. I either continued to be at Sage until I was ready for proper retirement or went out and used my knowledge of industry," said Mr Walker. …

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