The latest example is Carol Leonard, a former colleague of mine at The Times, who has just sold her headhunting business to Whitehead Mann for £1m in cash. She stands to make a couple of million more in loan notes.
Leonard, 45, was city diary editor when I joined The Times in 1989. She also wrote Saturday profiles, including a famous one on Michael Jordan, the insolvency supremo at Cork Gully. Maybe she caught him on a bad day, but the ensuing portrait was so dark, and so grim, that colleagues never looked on him in the same light again. It was filled with gruesome details about his divorce and his estrangement from his children.
Another Leonard special was an interview with John Gutfreund, the Salomon banker, immortalised in the book Liar’s Poker. She put it to him that he was not a happy man, and he ended up crying on her shoulder. Literally.
Leonard was persuaded to move into headhunting by Miles Broadbent, one of the industry’s leading lights. She subsequently set up on her own, encouraged by Sir Michael Richardson, the Smith New Court dealmaker.
Her placements include Sly Bailey at Trinity Mirror and Jane Lighting, chief executive of Channel Five. Soon we’ll be reading about Leonard as one of the ‘doyennes’ of headhunting.
Leonard is not the first Times City journalist to go on to greater things.
Baroness Hogg, chairman of 3i, was economics editor back in the eighties.