What was your childhood ambition?
To fly. Not in an aeroplane – I thought I could learn to fly myself.
Public school or state school? University or straight into work?
Public school: a boarding school in Oxford and two day schools in London. Then I studied philosophy at Edinburgh University. I loved it, though I wish I’d had a slightly more studious attitude.
Who was or still is your mentor?
No one person, but there are many friends I admire and turn to for advice.
How physically fit are you?
Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?
Neither – I think it’s tenacity.
How politically committed are you?
Very – though not party politically committed. I’m an ambassador for the International Festival for Business in Liverpool next year, to encourage UK exports. I think that’s the way we’re going to move on as a nation. I’m also very committed to our partners in the second and third worlds, and to working fairly with the farmers. Working directly with them means that you can have a collaborative relationship rather than an exploitative one.
Do you consider your carbon footprint?
Absolutely. I think it’s a mistake to leave these considerations to governments – business people need to take responsibility.
Do you have more than one home?
No. One tiny little one.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
A secret day when the world stops, everyone else is in suspended animation and I don’t have to try to keep up or catch up.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
Going to good restaurants. I love cocktails, I love food and I’m greedy.
In what place are you happiest?
In bed in the morning when I have my first cup of tea. I tiptoe off to the kettle with my eyes still closed, pour the tea in bed and get adjusted to the world.
What ambitions do you still have?
I want people to appreciate good tea the way they appreciate good wine and I’m not there yet. People understand wine and don’t mind paying a bit more for something beautifully crafted and delicious. If people felt the same way about tea, people on tea farms would thrive.
If I can make people appreciate tea, it will change the world.
What drives you on?
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
I haven’t achieved anything great yet.
What has been your greatest disappointment?
That I can’t fly.
If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would she think?
“Blimey, that really does look like hard work.” I don’t think I knew what hard work was when I was 20.
Go and live in a bothy in the Highlands and maybe work in a pub, pulling pints.
Do you believe in assisted suicide?
Do you believe in an afterlife?
No, but that doesn’t worry me. I love the poem by Edna St Vincent Millay: “My candle burns at both ends/It will not last the night/But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends/It gives a lovely light!” My life is very busy and adventurous and at the end it will be a nice rest.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
Ten. I have an optimistic outlook.