The Business On... Nick Buckles, Chief executive, G4S

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The Independent Online

The bloke on the door?

Yes, in the sense that Mr Buckles runs a security company. But do not underestimate Mr Buckles' significance. G4S is massive: it employs more staff than any other private-sector organisation in the world except Wal-Mart, runs security for companies, governments and big events such as the Olympics, and never stops expanding. Yesterday it won the contract to operate Birmingham Prison, which is the first privatisation of a publicly run prison the UK has ever conducted.

Presumably he is one of those MBA types?

Not really – there's the haircut, for starters, which is hardly the buzz-cut favoured by the average executive high-flyer. Nor is his alma mater particularly well-known – he went to Lanchester Polytechnic in Coventry (he was clearly commercially savvy as a student, since he got an engineering company to sponsor him through his business course).

A posh school then?

Nope. He grew up in working-class Essex – Dad was a policeman and Mum was a dinner lady.

So how has he made it to the top?

Hard work and loyalty, basically. He had a brief spell as an analyst at Avon Cosmetics on leaving Lanchester, but moved to Securicor in 1985 (he says thanks to the offer of a company car). He's been with the company ever since, eventually emerging from its various deals, including its merger with Group 4, as chief executive in 2005.

He must be a tough cookie?

Well, G4S has certainly had its fair share of criticism over the years – there have been run-ins with trades unions and campaigners who have accused it of misdeeds.

How does he deal with stress?

He's a West Ham fan, so he's used to it. And he still plays a bit too, as well as being a keen runner. G4S sponsors a group of young athletes from around the world and Buckles once made 80 of his senior staff go running with Haile Gebrselassie when the Olympic champion joined them at a conference in Dubai to help promote the endeavour.