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Mastercard Chairman inspires Victoria Centre students

Rick Haythornthwaite, the Chairman of global payments company Mastercard International and the FTSE 100 energy company Centrica PLC, visited Westminster Kingsway College’s Victoria Centre recently to speak to 60 of the college’s business students.

Rick has a wealth of high-level experience and shared some pearls of wisdom from his life in business with the students, who are just starting on their careers.

By his own admission, Rick, whose mother died when he was young, was an unruly teenager and had no idea what he wanted to do. But with focus and determination, he managed to gain a place studying Geology at University, where he got his degree and was hired by the global oil giant, BP.

Rick has distilled a lifetime of experience into a few ‘secrets of his success’:

  1. Think about the future that you want
    Imagine it and use that ‘imagined future’ to help you decide whether to do a certain thing or not. So, when faced with a choice or an opportunity, ask yourself: “Will this help me get to my imagined future?” “Will this open up more opportunities for me?” and “Will it harm me or other people I care about?”
  2. Be prepared
    Be really prepared. Be more prepared than the next person. Whatever you are doing, always be prepared.
  3. Build a network
    Collaboration and communication are key to business success. So, forge networks and build relationships with people.

Rick also answered questions from the audience – ranging from “What’s best: to go to university or to go for an apprenticeship?” (Answer: they are both good. University is more theoretical, whereas with an apprenticeship you’re in the business a lot more), to “What effect will Brexit have on your businesses?” to “What’s the most effective leadership style?

“I always enjoy the questions”, Rick told us afterwards, “because it forces one to think different things and it also gives me a sense of how the students are thinking. The students had some really good and insightful questions and I hope they all took something sway from my speech.”

Carlo Lui, Employability and Progression Lead at Westminster Kingsway College, organised the visit and said: “It was a pleasure to host Rick, who gave an insightful talk to our Business students. His advice was both practical and inspiring and left the students realising they can achieve anything by aiming to be the best version of themselves and treating others with respect along the way.

Anaina Podaru is a second-year Business – Level 3 Extended Diploma student and enjoyed Rick’s presentation. She said: “I found it really interesting and useful.”  Another student, Daniel Lindsey, said: “He inspired me, how he went from doing a degree in Geology to being Chair of Mastercard”, while fellow student Ghazi Ranjha was similarly impressed – both with Rick’s high profile and his enormous experience.

Rick’s has executive and Board-level experience across a range of sectors. As well as being Chair of both Mastercard International and Centrica PLC, he is Chair of the Creative Industries Federation and is co-owner of the world’s largest glass tableware producer.  He has also been non-Executive Chair of Network Rail, and a non-Executive Director of the chemicals company ICI and Land Securities PLC, the UK’s largest commercial property development and investment company.


Queen's Award for Enterprise