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I’m not an early riser; like Shakespeare’s schoolboy, I creep to work like a snail, resisting the urge to stand on my riverside balcony gazing at the morning traffic on the Thames. My assistant knows I don’t like meetings before 9.30am and does her best to reject invitations to power breakfasts. Once I’m in the office my energy starts to flow; I enjoy nothing more than some lively banter with colleagues before we settle down to the serious stuff. I try not to look at email until late morning because wrestling with a burgeoning inbox can make a day disappear.
Like Kilgore in Apocalypse Now, a hint of conflict gets my creative juices flowing. A juicy legal issue – the errant employee who left his laptop in the pub last night, an unexpected twist in ten-year litigation – gets my brain into gear. Before I metamorphosed into a lawyer I was an actor. I love a crisis where lateral thinking is needed. People ask if I miss the creativity of the arts; I answer that business can be creatively satisfying if you allow yourself to respond with your heart as well as your head. I climb inside a business challenge in the same way as an actor tries to get into the head of his character. And I try not to forget my lines.
I allow for walkabout time early in the day. You can learn more from hanging around the water cooler or popping your head around someone’s door than from any number of planned meetings. Before midday I will also touch base with my India-based legal team who now comprise 25% of the legal team at Colt. I am humbled by how energetically and professionally they support our business from 6000 miles away.
My favourite lunch walk is around Spitalfields which is a stone’s throw from Colt’s HQ. I enjoy striking up conversations with strangers from all walks of life, just to give me a perspective on work. I marvel at how, in my twenties, I could put away a few pints at lunchtime and still manage to be productive in the afternoon. Whilst I can no longer drink in the middle of the day, I confess a weakness for gourmet lunches at the invitation of consultants and lawyers (yes, they still occasionally happen, even in these troubled times). Otherwise Pret or Pod must do.
I don’t allow my calendar to be filled with meetings and my open door encourages frequent unscheduled one-to-one discussions. Whether we are planning our next acquisition or struggling with how to apply a policy consistently across fifteen different jurisdictions, these conversations mean it’s often 7pm before I realise it.
I love my job but I love my family more. One of my brood will ring if I’m not back by 7 to ask why the internet isn’t working, whether I’ll be home in time to walk the dog or to remind them what the difference is between the median and the mode. At that point I’ll leap out of my chair and head back. Walking back into the rough and tumble of home is the most wonderful moment of the day.