By Nick Kilby, Chief Executive
When I was small, my grandfather, Charles (known as Fred) Campion, was a bus driver for the United Counties bus company in Bedfordshire. I am not sure we give much time to appreciate the skills that are needed to drive a bus or to acknowledge and thank those who drive us safely around the country and in our cities.
But “Back in the Day” life was very different. My grandfather would leave his cab to help a mum with young children get on his bus and put their prams and shopping safely on the racks. Today, they don’t have time to provide such service. Nor do we pay the same respect to bus drivers.
When I was 14, my grandfather died. As we walked into the church, I was overwhelmed by the fact that the church was full, some standing at the back. My aunt explained “Well Fred was known by everyone from when he was on the buses!”
I never thought of being a bus driver. He would never understand me going to drama school and training to be a stage manager, but he would have loved some of the shows I worked on as he always drove the bus full of locals to the London shows at weekends!
Now years later and running Cratus, I have realised that my role has become much like my grandfather. Cratus is my bus, I am the driver and the passengers are the Cratus team. My job is to drive the bus on the most exciting and rewarding journey of projects and adventures possible and to attract the most talented employees possible to join me as passengers.
This realisation has helped me so much in recent years, as it helps me accept when some of the team decide that they want to get off the bus and try another route for them. I have got over the personal feeling of loss, knowing that it’s natural for people to come and go. And if I want to keep the most talented longer, then I need to make sure the destination I have set for us is exciting, offers opportunities for us all to learn to grow, and can be rewarding in every way.
The analogy helps in other ways. The journey is not always as planned, bumps in the road can make for some challenging times but, knowing it’s a journey that will have highs and lows, takes so much stress out of it for me as well as the team.
I was never one for community singing but I do remember some fun days out on the school trips, the race for the back seat, and the teachers doing head counts to make sure that they have not lost anyone after a day of sightseeing. These are replaced today with company events and the revelation that some team members were sighted in Soho at 5 a.m. eating steak and eggs after a party, but still made meetings at 10 a.m. without a hint of suffering from the night before!
Who knew I would follow my grandfather as a bus driver. I doubt that MBA or business management courses would describe the role of Chief Executive as akin to being a bus driver, but then again, I doubt they teach much that actually prepares you for the journey you embark on when you start a new company.
If Cratus is a bus, with very talented passengers, then I am more than content to be a bus driver.