An Interview with John Neal
John Neal, Chief Executive Officer, Lloyds
Published April 12th, 2019
As we transition into spring, what outdoor sports do you enjoy playing/watching?
As a kid, I grew up playing rugby and cricket. In my twenties, I was out of favor with rugby, but I played league squash for 12 years at a reasonable standard. Nowadays, it’s cycling. It’s really growing in popularity everywhere. I think in Australia, they sell more cycling holidays than golf holidays. It’s just as easy to get a bike on plane as golf clubs and, you know, you can go somewhere.
Follow up: Predictions for Rugby World Cup in the fall?
Wales. I’ve had my ten pound bet on Wales since the beginning of the season. They’ve been quietly The Team. I think they’re undefeated in their last 14 or 15 tests. Of course, I’m now confessing to the world my mother is Welsh and my Welsh heritage is coming to the fore here, but there it is.
What book have you read recently that you’d recommend and why?
In business we’re all quite time-constrained and it always amuses me that we all have time to read a thousand pages of board papers but not enough to read a novel. So, I’ve started to read poetry again which was a big thing of mine when I was a grad student as an English major. I’d recommend you read some poems by Ted Hughes who was married to Sylvia Plath. If you’ve got two minutes, read a poem of his called, “The Thought Fox,” which is about a poet writing a poem.
What advice would you give yourself if you were graduating from college right now?
I would say to seek sponsorship and mentorship. One of the things I think about that was integral to my success was sponsorship I received as a younger man. I was given authority when I was 26. So, I think a lot about that now. In business, it’s important to remember, no one shows up on Monday and wants to stuff up. I try to remember to give younger people chances to grow. And if they make a mistake they will work three times as hard to make sure they don’t again. So, now I try to make sure I’m the guy who is willing to give the 25-year-old the chances I had.
Outside of London, where have you/would you most enjoy living?
New Zealand. It’s just breathtaking. If you ever watched the Lord of the Rings films, it really does look like that. New Zealand is the same size as the UK but only has 4 million people. The South Island is the size of England and only has 1 million people. So, you’ve got these wonderful expanses of untouched wilderness that are just incredible.
What’s the technological advancement that’s taken place in your lifetime that you believe has had the biggest effect on who you are as a person?
The iPad. The development of these tablets is just mind-boggling in terms of what you can do. The latest iPad Pro does everything I need it to do. I take my iPad everywhere I go – no need for a laptop.