Britain’s bosses reveal their A-level results – are they as all important as we think?

Success may not necessarily be determined by exam results as these British bosses prove

After a summer of anxiously waiting, Britain’s A-Level students have finally received their results, and found out whether they’re getting into university.  Two per cent more have been accepted on university courses this year, despite a 2.3% fall in the number of school leavers.

However, do good grades really matter in the long-run? Management Times featured some of the biggest names in business in August last year to reveal their grades.  You’ll find that many of these are in fact self-made men and women, wearing their lack of qualifications as a badge of honour. Their success came from thinking practically and working hard, not expensive schooling or an in-depth knowledge of 2nd declension Latin nouns.

Ultimately stats do show that academic success is still clearly linked to earnings.  The Labour Force Survey in 2010 revealed that adults whose highest qualifications were A levels earned 15% more on an hourly basis than those who just had GCSEs. University graduates earned 85% more, while those with no qualifications at all made 20% less.

So are those self-made school leavers simply the exception to the rule? Here’s a summary of the interviews conducted by Management Times.

Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP

The boss of the world’s largest advertising firm was a prefect and captain of the cricket team, but exams did not agree with him.

Which school did you go to? Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School. I was a prefect, a sergeant in the cadets and the captain of the cricket first and rugby second teams… Read more

Nicola Horlick, Money & Co

City supermum Horlick found changing schools an ordeal, and originally wanted to be an actress.

Which school did you go to? I was one of a handful of girls at Kingsmead boys’ prep school, which I loved. Then at 12, my parents sent me to Cheltenham Ladies’ College, which I hated… Read more

John Roberts, AO World

The online appliance entrepreneur wanted to be a double glazing salesman, and always enjoyed fast maths.

What grades did you get: I got 2 As, 3 Bs and 3 Cs at GCSE, but failed my A levels, which were in maths, geography and economics. It had nothing to do with the way I was taught. At the time… Read more

Martin Gilbert, Aberdeen Asset Management

The asset manager wasn’t too fussed about exams, but says he’d have a much harder time of it now.

Which school did you go to? I boarded at Robert Gordon’s College in Aberdeen. I always say if you’re good at sport, you’ll enjoy boarding school… Read more

Dame Stephanie Shirley

The tech pioneer and philanthropist was desperate to study maths, but that meant going to the nearby boys school, which was an ‘experience’.

Which school did you go to? My sister and I arrived as refugees from Nazi Germany in 1939, and were placed with a foster family in Lichfield. I started… Read more

Jo Malone, Jo Loves

The cosmetics entrepreneur left school with no qualifications but enjoyed subjects she could visualise.

What was the worst thing a teacher said about you? I’m dyslexic, but they thought I was lazy. I’d stare at the words on the blackboard and by the time I understood what it said… Read more

Julian Dunkerton, Supergroup

The fashion firm co-founder wanted to be a doctor but that didn’t play to his strengths.

What grades did you get? At O level I got 2 As, 4 Bs and 4 Cs. I then made the fatal mistake of thinking I was going to be a doctor, so I took Physics, Chemistry and Biology at A level. That really wasn’t playing to my strengths… Read more

Join Over 40,000 Recruiters. Get our latest articles weekly, all FREE – SEND ME ARTICLES

Recruiters love this COMPLETE set of Accredited Recruitment & HR Training – View Training Brochure

Comment on this story

Join the BIoR to be part of creating excellence in recruiting standards & service

Send this to a friend