19th October 2018
We like to think that when we media train top-level CEOs and executives, we are training them to expect the unexpected.
But we’re also preparing them for the bleedin’ obvious too.
That doesn’t seemed to have happened to Jeff Fairburn, CEO of building company Persimmon Homes, who received a bonus of £75m this year, one of the biggest bonuses in Britain.
When being interviewed by the BBC, he gave this answer.
The only thing worse than the answer is the fact that he seems utterly surprised by the question.
Journalists like to talk about big numbers. They like to talk about people, not companies. A question about your big bonus ticks both those boxes.
What’s even more surprising is that Persimmon Homes have been in the news before about paying their execs big money, so they had plenty of warning that it’d come up again.
On top of that, Mr Fairburn also doesn’t seem to realise that his hesitant, evasive and narked response is going to be far better television for the BBC than any mundane answer he could and should have given.
Within hours of the interview, it’s had close to half a million views.
The reality is that CEOs get asked this question all the time. It’s boring, but most reply that they don’t decide how much they get paid, which does immediately move the responsibility for his bonus on to somebody else.
But not being prepared for the question - that’s Mr Fairburn’s responsibility.
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