The outgoing IoD director general is a former managing director of the Whitbread Beer Company. He is also non-executive chairman of brewer Shepherd Neame, senior non-exec of Melrose and a board member of Young Enterprise, Enterprise Insight and the ECDA
I was quite good at a lot of subjects without being outstanding at any. I was numerate without being exceptionally figures-based and good with words. It was as much the soft skills that I learnt at school as the hard skills.
My father ran a small manufacturing business but I was never going to go into it. In those days, one didn't really think about being an entrepreneur – it wasn't on the agenda.
Advertising sounded fun and glamorous – this was 1969. I applied to various agencies and managed to get a job at Young & Rubicam. I'm a classic example from the past. Unless you're lucky, it doesn't work like that today.
I learnt to deal with different types of people in different ways. I was operating between temperamental artists in the creative department, hard businessmen at Procter, and management.
Really bright ideas and any kind of innovation change the game. You can chip away doing good solid work and achieve one per cent or you can have a bright idea and achieve 80 per cent.
I got to the top of the marketing department [at Beecham] but they wouldn't make me director because I was too young. I joined Levi Strauss and fairly quickly became marketing director for northern Europe.
I've joined jobs more for the people than the products. I wasn't particularly interested in soap powder or jeans but I liked the people. You grow to love the product. Funnily enough, I was more interested in beer…
It's vital that leaders retain perspective. A leader should focus externally and on the direction of the company as well as address short-term issues.
I'm naturally a calm sort of person. I don't overreact and I'm fairly balanced in my response. In any crisis I always look for the practical solutions, the positive aspects. I'm not someone who worries a lot at night. The real problem in a crisis is when you don't understand what's happening.
Trying to persuade senior politicians and members of the government to understand business issues has been the most interesting part of my IoD role – and the most challenging.
I'm not a great reunion man, but the Whitbread board still meets up because we had such a good working relationship. I've had feedback from people who've said how good it was to be in that company during that period. That's a really nice thing to hear.
I've made mistakes. I was involved in a big acquisition when Whitbread was trying to buy Courage. There was a moment when we should have increased our bid and we might have got it. But I took the more cautious view. It would have transformed the business. I should have been bolder.
Applying yesterday's solutions is rarely right. The right way is to learn from the issue and develop a solution in an updated way. You don't just think, 'here's an answer from the past'. Nothing is ever quite the same.
Good directors are good at working with others, seeing their strengths and weaknesses, understanding their ideas, and motivating and engaging with them so they feel positive.
I like being a leader of a team – the responsibility and the decision at the end. But I also like getting there. Unless you've got people together in the right place, things will never get done.
Apple inspires the world. I can't believe how it has managed to create that premium. It's a perfect example of wonderful product – which you always need – inspired branding, iconic imagery and fantastic style.
I've always been rather impatient when I see things poorly done. I thought I would have mellowed but I haven't.
I've never found it hard to relax. I'm lucky enough to have found a career that I like. There have been periods when I haven't liked things, but each job I've had has given me a lot of satisfaction.
You can have a good career and be engaged with your family, but you have to work at it at times. Not just because it's a good thing to do. I have a good relationship with my three kids and have found it so rewarding.
Miles Templeman finishes his IoD term at the end of September