Rooney Anand is Executive Chairman of RedCat Pub Company, backed by Oaktree Capital; he is also Chairman of private equity backed businesses Away Resorts and Purity Soft Drinks.
He served as Senior Independent Director for Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc for six years prior to its sale to CD&R in October 2021.
Rooney was CEO of Greene King plc for fourteen years from 2005 to 2019. Before becoming CEO he was appointed to the board of Greene King plc in 2001 as the Managing Director of the company’s brewing division.
Prior to joining Greene King, Rooney built a marketing career in consumer goods at Sara Lee Corporation and before that with United Biscuits plc where he started his executive career after completing his MBA at Aston Business School in 1988.
What are the main challenges for business leaders?
"The most important quality a business leader has to have now is to be able to cope with volatility. I think back at earlier parts of my career, and I didn’t realise it at the time, but how things were very stable. Since Brexit and since COVID anyone leading or running a business is coping with demand and revenue that is much more unpredictable from day to day and week to week than you have seen in the past. Managing your cost base and controlling your costs is much harder than it has ever been.
Two things that seem to be at the top. The first is the environment and how businesses are having to understand how they interact with the environment and doing business that is deemed be sustainable. Secondly, talent. COVID forced all of us across the world to rethink what was important to us while we were sitting at home. The result was that people, younger and older decided they wanted to do different things. The war on talent is a cliché that has been used for many, many years but now I think it is a genuine phenomenon. Hiring, retaining and developing and progressing people’s careers in your organisation is going to be about your proposition as an employer and attitude towards the most important asset you have in the business, which is your people."
What skills do graduates need to become good business leaders?
"For graduates to succeed there are two things that are really important, flexibility and resilience. When I was young it was always about learning how to plan and to seek to exert control over the things that you were being tasked to deliver. I still think having a plan is a good idea but maybe having variants of plan, a, b, c and d is a better idea in a world that is changing quite a lot.
A flexible mindset and attitude are important qualities for a graduate. As an employer, if I look at two graduates, who on paper appear to be neck and neck in terms of skills and experience, the one that has the right attitude is probably going to tip the balance in their favour. People that have a resilient nature and resilient mindset tend to get noticed and are given more. This is the hallmark of somebody who is going to have a great career. There is an adage in business - give something to somebody who is busy if you want to get it done. People who are asked to do more are usually asked because they get things done. They can be relied upon. They are the graduates you want to look for as an employer."
Why did you want to become a Visiting Professor?
"I was really pleased a couple of years ago that Aston asked me if I was interested in carrying out the role as a Visiting Professor. The chance to help young and old people, people of all ages achieve their potential and try and field their questions which come firing at you with huge amounts of enthusiasm, is something I look forward to and find very rewarding."