The business on...Sir Howard Stringer, Chief executive, Sony


He must be having a tough time?


Yes, the theft of personal data from 100 million users of Sony's PlayStation Network online gaming platform has been embarrassing and costly. Sony shares plunged yesterday, while Sir Howard made a public apology to those affected. Some think the affair may cost him his job.

Did he do one of those bows of apology the Japanese favour?

No, he left that to Kaz Hirai, head of Sony's video games business, who is expected to succeed Sir Howard – if this affair doesn't do for him, too.

How did he end up boss anyway? He doesn't look Japanese

That would be because he's Welsh – he was born in Cardiff 69 years ago. After graduating from Oxford, he headed for the US in the months after John F Kennedy won the presidency. His first job was as an office boy on the Ed Sullivan show in New York.

Isn't that a long way from Sony HQ in Tokyo?

We're getting to that. After that first break, Sir Howard spent 30 years at CBS, winning nine Emmys as a writer and a producer. His career there eventually saw him become the CBS president. Among many achievements, he was responsible for poaching David Letterman from NBC.

And Sony?

He left CBS in 1995 to start his own business but was hired as president of Sony America in 1997 – eight years later he got the top job.

Has he never wanted to come home to the UK?

Actually, though he has dual UK/US citizenship, he's here a lot – Sir Howard and his wife have a home in Oxfordshire. But the closest he has come to working here recently was when he was interviewed for the director-general's job at the BBCfollowing the departure of John Birt. Greg Dyke pipped him to the post.

Is this hacking business the low point of his career?

Maybe so. Still, Sir Howard has had much hairier moments than this. He spent two years serving with the US Army military police in Vietnam, for example, narrowly escaping death when the Viet Cong machine-gunned his aircraft on his final day of service.

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