Sat, Apr 06, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Rise and shine: When top CEOs start their day

To get an insight into how high achievers organize their lives, The Guardian asked seven top businesspeople to run us through their working day. The bad news? A very early start is the key to success

By Patrick Kingsley and Laura Barnett  /  The Guardian

Do you have a secret e-mail address that few people know?

No, I’m accessible to everyone and there is no hierarchy.

What time do you go home?

I try to be home for 6:30pm, so that I can spend time with my son before he goes to sleep, read him his bedtime story and put him to bed at 7:30pm. My team knows that I’ll clock on again once Isaac is settled after 8pm and reply to e-mails or take calls. My clients also know that.

What time do you go to bed?


How much sleep do you get?

Between six and seven hours. I am the mum of a three-year-old: you survive on what you can get.

What is your weekend like?

Isaac time, peppered with the odd bit of work when he is sleeping.

Vittorio Colao

Chief executive officer, Vodafone.

Gets up at 6am.

He gets up at 6am, exercises for 40 minutes then works continuously through the day with constant e-mails and meetings: “because people need to progress with decisions and logistics and technology today allows everybody to be always in contact.”

He works through until about 10:45pm — with a brief pause for dinner with family — before going to sleep by 10:30pm.

Weekends consist of four hours of exercise, then the remainder is split between time with his wife and children and preparing for the following week’s work.

Helena Morrissey

Chief executive officer, Newton Investment.

Gets up at 05:00.

What time do you get up?

5am, sometimes earlier. I get out of bed straight away and go downstairs to check and send emails on computer and BlackBerry. At 6.30am, my nine children start to get up.

How much sleep do you get?

Five to six hours. This is as much to do with having nine children as having a business job, but I do end up feeling a bit sleep-deprived. There is not a lot of slack. I put on the washing about twice before I go to work. People make resolutions to do more things, but one of my ambitions is to do slightly less. With children, you end up adjusting and not needing so much sleep. However, every now and again, you think: Oh, I could do with a proper eight hours.

What time are you at your desk?

About eight. I’m on my BlackBerry all the time.

When do you go home?

Around 6pm. The whole family tends to eat together at about 7.30pm. I work after supper, sending more emails, often to US-based colleagues, or doing two hours of prep for the morning’s meetings. I try to get to bed around 10pm and aim to be asleep by 11pm, but there’s usually one child who’s awake. With so many there’s bound to be one.

What is your weekend like?

On Saturday evening the whole family tends to sit down and watch a movie. On Sunday mornings, the children do their homework and I do mine. I spend Sunday evenings preparing the children’s schoolbags for the week ahead. It takes a little while, organising that many children, making sure the girls do not go off with the boys’ stuff. I have done that occasionally.

Heather Rabbatts

Non-executive director of the Football Association.

Gets up at 6am.

What time do you get up?

I am usually up by 6am, but wake earlier. I have always been an early riser. I love that sense of quiet first thing in the morning as the world (well, those of us on GMT) wakes up.

What time do you start sending emails?

By 8am — sometimes earlier, depending on what is on my mind.

Do you e-mail first thing?

If I am in London, I start the day with a cup of tea and a digestive biscuit. If I am home in Kent, I feed my two spaniels, have a cup of tea and defend my digestive biscuits from being snaffled by my crafty dogs.

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