On the money with Damian Wild

The boardroom setting is familiar, the same raw ambition is on display and
there are ­ and will be ­ winners and losers along the way.

Ok, there may be no Sir Alan. TV cameras are in somewhat shorter supply. And
these Apprentices may be altogether more seasoned.

Nevertheless The Apprentice: CEO edition, a pilot show where finance
directors get the opportunity to step up to the top job, has as many twists and
turns as the real thing and is every bit as watchable.

The latest contestant is Tesco’s Andrew Higginson. Group FD, strategy
director and a board member for over a decade, Higginson was appointed chief
executive of retailing services at the supermarket giant last month.
Is he being groomed for the top job? Many saw it that way, interpreting the move
as one that would give him the broader business credentials he would need to
fill Sir Terry Leahy’s shoes.

Higginson’s move follows in the footsteps of Helen Weir, group FD of Lloyds
TSB until her recent elevation to head of UK retail banking in a CV-boosting

Yet the FD to CEO career path is no shoo-in. Ask Jonathan Symonds.

The ex-AstraZeneca FD had been seen as a future CEO. Once he missed out on
that role, however, he hightailed it to Goldman Sachs.

Keep an eye on Marks & Spencer FD Ian Dyson, seen as a potential
successor to Stuart Rose. Will he need ­ and will he get ­ a divisional CEO job
at the retailer before Rose steps down in? In the current climate he probably
needs one.

Sir Alan, I suspect, would agree.

Damian Wild is group editor in chief of Accountancy

Related reading