Fleet News

The last word: Michael Wilmshurst

Michael Wilmshurst, chief executive, Nationwide

What has been your biggest achievement in your current role?

I haven’t achieved it yet. It’s an interesting industry and possibly a time when considerable change will take place in the sector – I’d like to be part of that.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career?

I don’t think there is any one person. I really think it’s important that you talk to and listen to lots of people and I continue to be influenced by people I meet at all levels and from all walks of life. I think once you stop doing that you stop growing.

What is your favourite film?

Either Apocalypse Now or Blade Runner – it’s a difficult choice. Both of them offer interesting insights into personality and humanity.

What three things do you take to a desert island?

If there was a phone signal I’d take a phone to get me straight off it. But assuming there’s no signal I’d take a boat, some fishing equipment and a bottle of champagne to celebrate my escape.

When was the last time you took public transport?

Two weeks ago. I took a bus into Oxford for dinner with my wife and two friends. I also regularly use the train to go to London.

When did you last feel guilty about the environment?

Last week when I was sat out in the evening with our patio burner going to keep my wife and two daughters warm. It crossed my mind that jumpers might be more environmentally-friendly.

What is the first thing you would do if you won the Lottery?

I don’t do the Lottery. I believe you make your own luck.

What is your favourite childhood memory?

Waking up when I was seven years old on a Pacific Island called Guam and realising I was going to live there with my parents for at least two years. I can still remember the excitement I felt.

What is your favourite book?

A book that I’ve read every decade and enjoyed for different reasons every time I’ve read it is Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. You could read it very super-ficially about a fisherman conquering a large fish or you could take it to
a completely different level and understand how people face their fears and deal with the challenges in life.

How would you describe your leadership style?

Both direct and measured. I think you need to be flexible in how you work with people – whether it be customers, suppliers, shareholders or the team.

Who was your childhood hero?

I don’t do heroes. I genuinely believe you can learn from lots of people and if you put people on a pedestal it’s unrealistic.

What is your dream car?

Porsche 911 GT3.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

I probably wouldn’t bother. I think at 18 you have to go your own way – it’s how you grow.

What object couldn’t you live without?

Horsepower. Four wheels, two wheels, four legs – I don’t mind what form it comes in but it needs to be able to go fast.

Which comic superhero would you most like to be?

I wasn’t big on comics. I never related to them.

What was the pivotal moment in your life?

The moment I set up my own business. It was extremely liberating and it really helped me understand how business works.


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