This much I know: Dr Jules Goddard, London Business School

25 March 2015 -


CMI Management Article of the Year finalist tells us why he turned down a chance to run a family business, how he narrowly missed The Beatles and why managers must leave their comfort zones

Colin Marrs

As ethics at work occupy an increasingly prominent place in business leaders’ thoughts, it feels only right that a management expert has analysed the status quo of the field as a whole. Such was the objective of Dr Jules Goddard’s paper Management and moral capital: the corporation as a moral community – recently named a Top Five finalist in CMI’s Management Article of the Year award.

Here, Jules tells us about his own career experience, and how managers can be helped to conquer indecision.

I turned down the chance to take over a successful family business. I would have been the fifth generation of my family to run Goddard’s, the silver polish manufacturer. Back in the 1960s my father thought it would be a good idea for me to do professional management training, so I went to Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to do an MBA. I found myself intrigued by the intellectual side so decided I wanted to do that. I felt a bit guilty telling my father but he was delighted and sold the business.

The Beatles and I narrowly missed each other – because I turned them down too! I remember walking past Carfax Assembly Rooms in late 1962 during my first year at Oxford University and seeing a huge flag advertising a concert by a new group called the Beatles. I remember thinking “Why does Oxford insist on bringing these awful pop groups from the North of England to play?” Within weeks they had become a huge sensation.

I was probably the first person in the country to do a management PhD. I became a student at the school in 1970. At the time, it was a bit of a risk to get a doctorate from a business school rather than from an established university. I later became the first or second teacher of marketing to join the school.

Managers need help to overcome indecision – and I provide that help. In Europe, managers are quite risk-averse. I run training programmes for firms where we take managers out of their comfort zone to visit cities around the world to learn from people who are tackling social problems. Last year, for instance, we visited a village 100 miles north of Accra in Ghana, where 80% of children die by the age of 10. We met an inspirational woman who had set up a school and helped to reduce the death rate. The participants were able to learn from her courage.

Art is a huge inspiration to me. Wherever we visit, I always seek out a museum or gallery. My father was first and foremost a painter and my holidays are always based around works of art – architecture, music and painting. We collect very early art and also have a nice collection of modern paintings and sculputure.

For a third of the year, I live in the South of France. I like being there and writing there. I am very fond of French civilisation – their ability to value both the intellect and the senses. The French have an ability to combine a unique regard for ideas on the one hand and the sensual enjoyment of life and nature and good food and wine. That balance is brilliant.

I have six children. Two step children and four of my own, and I am very proud of all six. There is nothing like it – we bring our children up but they also bring us up.

Read Jules’ Management Article of the Year entry in Winning Ideas – a special, CMI compilation of the Top Five pieces.

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