The Business On... Sir Roger Carr, President, CBI
Wednesday 08 June 2011
The employers' new attack dog?
That would be one way to look at it, though Sir Roger is less confrontational than some of his predecessors at the business organisation. And he's begun his term of office in emollient fashion this week, calling for business to show it can be a "force for good" and criticising executive pay that has not been earned.
Crumbs, is the CBI going soft?
Far from it – the CBI chief has also criticised the Government for failing to get to grips with energy policy during its first year in office and called for tougher legislation on trade unions and strikes.
He is a capitalist after all then?
Very much so. He's the chairman of Centrica, British Gas's parent, which is known for maximising profitability. He was also the chairman of Cadbury until the British company was so controversially sold to the US food giant Kraft. Sir Roger fought for Cadbury's independence, but always said he would have no choice but to recommend an offer from Kraft if he thought it was sufficiently valuable. He copped some flak when that was what ultimately happened.
He sold the family silver?
Well, it was the shareholders' decision in the end. But Sir Roger has always been about the bottom line – he made his name working with Sir Nigel Rudd at Williams Holdings. It started out as a small car dealership, but the pair of them built it into a huge conglomerate during the eighties and nineties. Annual sales grew from £5m to £2bn.
The stuff of business school types' dreams?
Maybe, but that's not Sir Roger's background. He started out at IBM, taking a programming job there rather than following his original intention of a legal career, and then moved to Honeywell. It was while working for it that he met Sir Nigel.
What does he bring to the CBI?
Endless experience and a wealth of contacts. Since Williams' break-up in the mid-90s, he's chaired a string of companies, including Thames Water, Chubb and Mitchells & Butler, as well as Centrica and Cadbury. He also sits on the court of the Bank of England.
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