IT IS not quite true to say that in the space of two years Graham Wallace has gone from running a Happy Eater on the A1 to commanding one of the biggest companies in the Footsie. But it is not that far from the mark. His meteoric rise from chief executive of Granada's restaurant division (that's, er, Little Chef) to chief executive of , shows that nice guys do not always come second.
Now that he has reached the top of the greasy telegraph pole, Mr Wallace seems intent on making his employers recognise the value of his abilities by sticking out for the kind of pay package enjoyed by his more carnivorous predecessor, Dick Brown
His track record at Communications entitles Mr Wallace to start with some credits in the bank. In his two years at the helm, its market capitalisation has more than doubled. Furthermore, however much he asks for, it will doubtless be a fraction of the sums the Americans interviewed for the job by the C&W chairman Sir Ralph Robins would have demanded. But as with any internal appointment, particularly one as big as this, there is always the nagging question of whether C&W has settled for second best. If the job is so good, why could Sir Ralph not appoint a successor from outside?
So Mr Wallace will have to deliver a lot. His motto for now is steady as she goes. But if he wants to achieve the same feat with the C&W share price as he did at CWC, can he resist the temptation of the mega-merger?