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Britain's Novice Bosses 'ill-equipped' For Slowdown

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Peter Stiff

British company chiefs are ill-equipped to grapple with a serious economic downturn because so few of them have any recession experience, a business school study has found.

Three quarters of executives now in senior positions are “recession virgins” - having never before experienced a serious economic slowdown while in positions of authority. The survey of more than 200 business people, conducted by the business school Pentacle, found that 69 per cent of executives believe that the UK is heading into a recession or serious downturn, with 71 per cent of senior management of the opinion that bosses lack the skills and experience needed to deal with a slump in business.

Of those questioned, 62 per cent estimated that under a quarter of the senior staff at their own firms held key senior positions when the last recesion hit the UK in 1992. Many were at university or starting their careers at that time.Peter Redfern, the chief executive of Taylor Wimpey, the housebuilder, has found himself on the front line of the economic slowdown aged only 37, a far cry from his days as a trainee accountant at KPMG during the last recession. SimonWolf-son, the 40-year-old chief executive of Next, the retailer hit by weaker consumer spending, was a national sales manager at the company during the last downturn.

“After a long economic cycle with nearly 15 years of growth, most of those at the top of business today are used to vigorous expansion, ambitious projects and taking major risks, all with unwavering confidence,” Eddie Obeng, director of Pentacle, said. “The question is whether these same bold leaders have the expertise to adapt to much more challenging conditions.” Those responsible for seeking out top management disagree that age means younger executives cannot succeed as the economy slows down.

“Age is only relevant in a secondary way,” William Dawkins, managing partner of Odgers Ray & Berndtson, the headhunters,. said. “What we really look for is the business experience they’ve had.” Another top recruiter said that many of today’s bosses have faced difficult situations in their careers. “There aren’t many organisations that haven’t had a problem in the last five years,” he said. “Bright bosses aren’t resting on their laurels and many are ready for a problem before it comes.”

No more boom and bust!

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  • 294 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?

      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%

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