I was delighted to be at the Royal Courts of Justice last week for the Grant Thornton Quoted Company Awards. An unusual venue for a corporate event but a good use of the facilities that every FD would approve of as the building would probably be sitting empty after 4pm every day, instead of which the taxpayer benefits from 700 people celebrating success.
As you might know, these events are usually hosted by a newsreader type such as Sophie Raworth or Emily Maitliss so imagine our surprise when after the blaring introductory music on to the stage walks none other than Karren Brady just days after becoming MD of West Ham United; a job which you might think would take up at least 23 hours of every day.
This seemed a bit strange but perhaps it was just something to fill her time between clubs.
However, I do get a bit suspicious when business people spend more time raising their profile in the media than actually running their businesses. The worst example of this in recent years has been Lord Bilimoria who having grown Cobra Beer to become an established brand obviously felt he could afford to lose focus and engage in television programmes and conference speaking.
This isn’t a bad thing if it brings in more business for your company but I can’t believe people drank more Cobra because they saw Lord B speaking at an entrepreneurs conference. There may be no connection between Lord B spending more time away from the business and the business going into pre-pack administration leaving his creditors £75m out of pocket, but it doesn’t look good, or do his credibility any favours.
By coincidence, reading the Sunday Times yesterday the Fame and Fortune column was about, you guessed it, Karren Brady and it turns out her non-football business which includes speaking events, newspaper columns, and books is worth £82m!
If true, that doesn’t sound like a business person who has lost focus, but let’s hope that she makes West Ham as successful, at least off the pitch if not on it.