Life is sweet

SIR DOMINIC CADBURY, 57, is chairman of Cadbury Schweppes plc, chairman of the CBI's education training affairs committee, and deputy chair of the new Qualifications and Curriculum Authority

How did you get where you are?

Although I did think about other things, I always knew I would work at Cadbury's. I have not planned every move but did have an overall plan to get experience and not stay forever doing one job.

My career has been more about taking advantage of opportunities rather than planning each step. After Stanford Business School in the US, I went straight into Cadbury's. My first few years were in South Africa where I had responsibility in a very practical, "hands-on" way. It was a very dynamic market - dealing with different racial groups with different languages and a certain amount of export trade. Head office tended to leave you alone if your financial results were OK.

In 1969 I returned as sales director based in Bourneville for Cadbury in the newly merged company of Cadbury Schweppes. The Cadbury family has always had close connections with Edgbaston High School for Girls and Birmingham University, and I started to get involved in these two organisations.

After a period as marketing director, I moved on to the main board and ran the combined Cadbury Schweppes food operation for three years. I then spent one year as group marketing director, which gave me a different angle on marketing but no global power. One year was enough of responsibility without power, and I moved on to tackle a problem we had on the confectionery side in the US and Canada. I returned two years later and became managing director of Cadbury's. In 1984 I became chief executive of Cadbury Schweppes, and, after l0 years, chairman.

Being chairman allows me to back off from the day-to-day running of the business and give more time to external interests such as joining the provost of fellows at Eton. At the CBI we had a lot to do with the Dearing report, and I got to know Sir Ron and officials at the Department for Education and Employment. I hope to bring a business viewpoint to the work of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.

The QCA is about raising standards of qualifications and establishing a coherent framework of academic and vocational qualifications. We need to give the vocational qualifications status. I have put my energies into education rather than charity work because it is at the heart of our ability to compete economically and industrially - so for me it is enlightened self-interest.

Would you have done anything differently?

There are all sorts of things I should have done better, but I'm glad I chose to work in a company where everyone shares the same values. It has been wonderful for me personally, and the company has done well over the years. Two years ago we were voted the most admired company in the UK, and this gives me a lot of satisfaction.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Now I'm not so "hands-on", I enjoy the problems, challenges and discussions I am involved in. I see a synergy between all the jobs I do, which makes me more useful in each of them. I enjoy it when I feel I've been able to make a difference in any forum and people are able to move ahead.

What don't you enjoy?

Long-winded meetings where the chair is not sufficiently disciplined to see we get on with business.

What's the most difficult thing you have to do?

Turning people down.

What was different from what you expected?

When I got involved in education I did not expect learning to take on quite the profile that it has done in the past couple of years. There is a realisation that the future of the economy depends on it. It's not just the change of government.

Who or what inspired you and influenced your approach?

My older brother, Sir Adrian Cadbury, who originally set me on the course to business school.

What keeps you sane?

A happy marriage.

Who do you admire?

Sir Ron Dearing. For someone who left school at 16 and went to work in the Post Office he has made a remarkable contribution.

What would you like to be remembered for?

Having maintained and contributed to the values of Cadbury Schweppes.

kate myers Kate Myers is professor of professional development in education at Keele University


8.00am Summit meeting with Secretary of State to discuss White Paper

10.3O Interview with The TES

11.3O Deal with paperwork

12.3O Chairman's meeting over lunch with Cadbury Schweppes chief executive and finance director

2.3O Train to Sheffield

4.3O Visit to QCA in Moorfoot

6.00 Junior Chamber of Commerce dinner. Give after-dinner lecture. Stay overnight in Sheffield.

6.22am Return train to London

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