What was your first job and what did your responsibilities include?

Working as a clerical assistant at Blackwell’s Export offices based in Blue Boar Street, Oxford. I had to check on newly received books and match them against orders.

How much was in your first pay packet and what did you spend it on?

£6 of which £3.50 went on entertainment, £0.50 for home keep, £1 on transport and anything left over on savings.

Describe how you career developed to the present day

At Blackwell’s, through in-house and external courses, I progressed to become a departmental manager in the International Library Supply Division, specialising in the creation of bibliographic records for books and book serials, the purchase and processing of books.

This entailed communicating with publishers, negotiating terms and resolving supply problems, some marketing and liaising on customer queries.

Through rationalisation in the industry, much of it caused by the growth of the Internet and changes in global markets, I was made redundant but an opportunity arose with the imposition of the Oxford Transport Strategy (OTS) in June 1999.

A number of local businessmen, led by Julian Blackwell and Jeremy Mogford, raised their concerns about the negative impact of the measures on city centre firms.

I became self-employed and was engaged to make use of my previous skills, as well as my knowledge and experience of Oxford issues.

We carried out comprehensive surveys, following which Rescue Oxford (ROX) was born to address the worst excesses of the OTS and develop ways in which the traditional core of the city could be enhanced while ensuring Oxford grew as a vibrant retail and business centre.

We have had several notable successes, which, I believe, have helped Oxford retain many businesses that might otherwise have been lost — but there is still much to do.

What are the key responsibilities in your position?

To identify new opportunities, issues and challenges/threats and to co-ordinate promotions, campaigns and appropriate responses to consultations.

Also, I help provide guidance and support for sectors of the Oxford business community wherever possible.

Describe a typical day

There is no such thing. It could be made up of a mixture of some time in the office, breakfast (early morning), day time and evening meetings, visits to businesses in the city centre or a visit to a school to support sixth formers on their Young Enterprise company programme.

Or it could be a quieter day, in which case I would be checking online news and e-mails before breakfast, before carrying out research on various issues relating to trade and transport, arranging meetings, preparing reports, etc.

I am now trying to squeeze in at least one 30 minute walk a day to get fitter.

Who/what have been the biggest influences on your career?

I think my approach to work and, I suppose, life in general has been influenced by my parents, some good teachers, several former bosses and work colleagues as well as many others from all walks of life and experiences.

What has been your best decision?

Putting job satisfaction and good work ethics before high remuneration.

And your worst?

Never fulfilling two planned trips through Asia to Australasia with a view to emigrating when in my 20s. On the other hand, if I had, I would have missed so many things here — and not met my wife.

What is the best advice you can give to someone starting out in your business?

First, research what you plan to do as it is a wide field, then research alternatives and be realistic about your costs and targets.

What is the secret of good management?

Providing the necessary leadership and support in a well structured organisation, where teamwork is key but where individuals are encouraged to take responsibility and allowed to flourish.

Do you have a good work/life balance?

I believe so, even if that sometimes means doing work in the evenings and weekends to make up for any time taken out of the normal working week.

What hobbies/interests do you enjoy in your spare time?

Since the age of 13 I have been involved in creating and being involved with some form of voluntary organisation involved with education, sport, the environment, politics and the local community. I enjoy rambling, a little gardening, socialising and supporting Oxford United.

Is there anything in business that really irritates you?

Unnecessary bureaucracy and people with closed minds.

How do you see your company developing over the next five years?

I see my main activities and those of ROX as being involved in helping establish Oxford as a better place to visit, with the independent retailers in particular being given the chance to flourish to provide a distinctive shopping experience.

What has been your most satisfying moment?

There have been many, which are so different and difficult to compare. But seeing my son and daughter graduate in the same week takes some beating.

Do you believe there is enough help and support from Government and agencies for growing businesses?

It does not affect me personally but a little carrot and stick approach from the Government to encourage banks to provide more long term loans to new and small businesses would enable many to establish themselves before having to start making repayments.

What is your attitude to the environment and do you have any green policies in place?

I take environmental issues seriously. I work from an office at home and when I use the car to make visits and attend meetings I try to combine journeys to minimise car usage. Also, I do seem to make a surprisingly high number of visits to the Redbridge recycling centre.

What is the secret of a happy workforce?

An environment where people are given the encouragement, support and space to achieve their objectives and those of the company.

Is there any other job you would like to have done and why?

Probably something useful in connection with Third World development.

What would you like to do when you retire?

Although Oxford is a great city I would like to visit some places overseas to appreciate the different cultures and scenery. Also, I hope to learn a craft or two and carry on volunteering.