On the evening of Wednesday January 27th at 8.30pm in
the Coffee Shop, the Adam Smith Society hosted the incredibly talented father
of two Radley boys, Sir Christopher Gent. Sir Christopher became director of
Vodafone in 1985, three years after it started. When he left Vodafone in 2003
he had transformed it into a £135 billion business in 115 different countries. He went on to become chairman of
GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s sixth largest pharmaceutical company. He
also worked with Ferrari and the Lehman Brothers in his career.
Introduced by Tom Fenwick
(J Social) he began talking about missing out on his place at Lancaster
University and went out into ‘the university of life’. He continued
to fascinate the audience on how he succeeded in his ambition to make Vodafone the largest mobile network in the world. He
explained the excitement of business, stressing the importance of high-risk
takeovers to be successful. Adding humour to the talk he said how Darren
Gough’s hat-trick in the Ashes came before an important bidding war. In his time
at Vodafone he increased the value of the company by six times
its original price.
To conclude the talk, Sir
Christopher spoke about the qualities required to be a successful businessman.
He stresses that seeking help was not a sign of weakness but a sign of maturity
and strength. He continued to encourage us to face up to challenges, have a sense
of resilience when times are tough, and to be a good team player. But above all
merit and hard work was, in Sir Christopher’s eyes, the key quality for success
Report and Picture by Freddie Grant, H Social and Tom Whitbread A Social, 6.1s