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Founder

  • Dick Smythe was educated at Bolton School, then graduated in pure mathematics and statistics from St Andrews University – despite a lowish handicap, he never played for the University golf side but made up for it by becoming a regular darts team player for the local  City Arms pub, partnering Tip Anderson, Arnold Palmer’s UK caddy
  • Afterwards, he took a masters degree in Operations Research at Birmingham University under the famous Professor Stephen Vajda – and managed to play ‘Number One’ for their University golf side!
  • He also became a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, Operational Research Society, Institute of Management Services and Institute of Physical Distribution Management
  • His career started with a scholarship from Dorman Long Steel on Teesside, working shifts on blast furnaces and steel mills during his university holidays and, afterwards, joining their OR department and, amongst other projects, employing ‘computer simulation‘ (a management fad that does work) to design their new electric arc furnace plant
  • He subsequently moved to London to join the world-famous BISRA OR department, then part of British Steel, and was involved in CEO ‘Black Bob’ Scholey’s cost reduction programmes and developing Transport Director Sir Peter Thompson’s iron ore shipping strategy by leading a team of Ph D holders to successfully forecast the turning-points in the short and medium-term international freight market
  • During these earlier years, he also became an executive officer in the Royal Naval Reserve, serving on their coastal ‘ton-class’ minesweepers based on the Rivers Tay, then Tyne, then Thames – and a wing forward for Rosslyn Park RFC (n’th XV), playing mostly for their famed après-rugby
  • He was later recruited by Europe’s leading consultancy of the day, PA Consulting Group, and went on to set up and grow their Productivity Services Division into being a significant part of the business, becoming a PA director and sitting on their UK management consultancy board
  • Whilst there, he led a joint study with the CBI into UK productivity, a survey approach that has been much copied ever since – the study highlighted the large gap that existed between the UK and its competitors, and recommended ways to close it – he presented the results on TV, radio and at a press conference with CBI Director General Sir John Banham, and received widespread national publicity for months after
  • The Times leader commented: “It is refreshing to come across something that has its feet firmly planted on the ground”
  • Since then, he has mixed productivity consultancy work with playing the property and stock markets, skippering his own boat in the Fastnet and many other ocean yacht races and keeping his golf handicap down to single figures
  • He is happily married to Rhona, is immensely proud of his sons Rob and Ed, has a lovely daughter-in-law Victoria, and two fine grandchildren, Amelie and William – he also lives either by the Solent or at Marble Arch in London