Throwing darts at a random cat
2002 – Goodman Rozel Leaders of the Future
There were twenty of them, top performers who’d been selected
to be Goodman Rozel’s future leaders. Many of them had
travelled from Hong Kong, Wall Street and European capitals for
the month-long course in 2002.
The 39th oor at Canary Wharf was bright with autumn sun.
These groups are always eager to please their tutors, especially
on the rst days of their month in London. At the end of the
course, stuffed with knowledge and frazzled by a full calendar
of evening networking events, they’d be let loose. By then the
back row would be throwing paper darts at the hapless repre-
sentatives of Learning & Development. Somehow, their talks
on ethics, diversity and treating your customer fairly didn’t
have the same grab as how to make a fortune in the nancial
Nineteen of the delegates were destined for success. Some of
them – Guy Abercrombie being the obvious example – would
certainly leave their mark on the nancial world. But one of
them was different.
Every group has one. The super-smart human calculator with
the personality of a small boiled sweet and the social skills of
Genghis Khan. Ours was called Robin Beareld. On the rst
days of the course, when everyone is trying their best to be
super-friendly, Robin didn’t make much of an impression. He
All’s fair in love and ﬁnance220
disappeared in group activities, answered his partner exercises
with monosyllables and failed to ask a single question. But Robin
possessed strong numerical skills and came in early every day to
do extra case studies.
Robin had worked at a retail bank for a couple of years before
joining Goodman Rozel. He told me what he did with his salary.
‘I saved most of it so I could lend it to my parents who want to
buy a holiday caravan.’
I told him I thought he was a very generous son.
‘That’s true. And I’m only charging them 1 per cent above the
He soon began to irritate his classmates. He snapped at a law
grad called Sissoun Ward when she left her pen on his desk. He
tutted whenever Uli spoke, and corrected Augusto Astudillo’s
English pronunciation. He treated his classmates – especially
those struggling to get their heads round the bombardment of
material – with condescension. At the end of the rst week, when
the cohort hit Covent Garden to alcoholically erase most their
learning, Robin stayed behind to improve his advanced Excel
skills. At the end of the second week, Robin wasn’t even invited
for a coffee at break-time.
No long-term course is really complete without its romance.
Emily Prentice was destined to break more than one heart in the
future, but I doubt she’d ever meet a man more love-struck than
Robin Beareld. He blushed every time Emily came within ve
metres. Guy Abercrombie certainly noticed and his teasing of
Emily was a constant feature of the last week of the course.
‘I know you’re desperate, Ems, but I’m sure you can do better
than Mr Maths.’
‘You would have thought so. But I’m not seeing much in the way
‘Then get your eyesight xed. It’s standing right in front of you.’