THIS WEEK’S BIG QUESTION - What are the best or worst examples of CEOs affecting company image? - Research has shown that CEOs are responsible for 40 per cent of their company’s reputation



London Electricity

’When a plane crashed on to the M1 at Kegworth Sir Michael Bishop of

British Midland was there on the scene and showed he was in control.

He showed he was running the business and not aloof by reassuring

customers and saying as much as he could say as quickly as possible. At

a time of crisis it’s very important that executives are willing and

able to make their presence felt. They need to give reassurance and show


Sir Michael had a major positive impact on British Midland’s


Simon Miller, Railtrack

’Obviously on one side there is Ratner. An equally celebrated example is

Freddie Shepherd of Newcastle United who managed to speak scornfully of,

in effect, his staff, when talking of his players, and his customers,

when talking of the fans. This was in addition to other unfortunate

remarks you wouldn’t expect from a sophisticated and responsible

executive. On the other side there is Branson.’

Deborah Botwood-Smith, Coutts Group

’An obvious candidate for worst is Gerald Ratner. But it is interesting

that he apparently made the ’crap’ comment several times to a City

audience before it was picked up by the tabloid press. It wasn’t until

he said it in this context that his company’s reputation was damaged.

The City was just concerned that the company perform well.’

Nick Fitzherbert, Ludgate

’The clearest example is perhaps that of the political parties, who can

stand or fall through perceptions of their leaders. Many within the

investment community have been taking communications a lot more

seriously since the arrival of Virgin. But there are still too many

companies which suffer the effects of ’facelessness’. In the finance

world Philip Warland goes a long way to creating the high regard that is

enjoyed by the Association of Unit Trusts and Investment Funds.’

Peter Hill, Lloyd’s of London

’The difference lies between a bearded British millionaire and a US

lottery company that sounds more like a training shoe brand.’

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