Claude Littner is Chair of the judging panel for the Mosaic Enterprise Challenge. The Claude Littner Business School, part of the University of West London (UWL), is named in his honour. The School is a leading provider of business education, connected to the world of work. As a former student of the Business School, Claude is a dedicated supporter of the University. Having featured for 10 years in the interview episodes of the programme, he has just been named (27.4.15) as Lord Sugar’s new ‘adviser’ on TV series The Apprentice.
Q: What is the most important attribute of a business leader?
An effective business leader requires many attributes, and these need to be brought into play depending on the type of business, business environment, opportunities or pressures the company may be encountering. I would say that the most important is the ability to take carefully considered decisions. A leader who prevaricates and dithers at a time when it is critical to make a decision is pretty useless to the business.
Q: What values are at the core of your business?
The core of any business is to make sustainable profits. Within that precept is the manner in which the company achieves its objective. This must encompass integrity by being open and fair in internal and external interactions. Staff development is a key ingredient as it recognises that everyone has a career, and managers have a responsibility to develop employees. As a bi-product, this is good for business as it engenders loyalty and a good culture.
Q: What single action would you take to make business more responsible?
I am very much in favour of businesses being part of the community. In many cases, the best way they can achieve this is by passing on their business experiences to younger generations. Engaging with schools/universities, talking and answering questions about the world of work, or providing work placements are good ways to achieve this goal.
Q: What is the greatest lesson your life in business has taught you?
So many! Generally, conduct yourself in a professional manner with honesty, integrity and respect for others. More specifically, play to your strengths so that your hard work produces the best outcome for the business, and importantly gives you personal satisfaction.
Q: How important are initiatives like The Enterprise Challenge and Responsible Business Week for engaging young people with business?
The Enterprise Challenge in particular is a brilliant example of a fun and stimulating initiative that engages young people. Versions of it should be incorporated within the school curriculum, as it is highly instructive and provides pupils with an exciting challenge that has business fundamentals at its core.
The photograph of Claude Littner was taken by Tim Anderson