Penny Speed meets... Phil Race, managing director, Agencyport Europe

Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher

Being an insatiable socialite, Penny Black is always eager to probe the personalities behind the professional veneer of her industry friends. What better way to squeeze in and share as many intimate revelations as possible than her very own ‘speed meeting’ column? This week, it’s the turn of Agencyport’s Phil Race.

What was your first ever job — and were you any good at it?
My first proper job was as an electronics engineer at Philips (I helped build the television outside‑broadcast vans for the Mexico World Cup, 1986). I realised I was hopeless at it and moved into software engineering at ICL after university

If an MP3 player could only hold three tunes, what would you select for the ultimate soundtrack to your life?
Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd; Supper’s Ready by Genesis; and Valerie by Mark Ronson (showing my age?)

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
When figuring out a career move I was told not to merely evaluate what crosses your path, but to set out 10 clear criteria and look for roles that fit. I found my director position at Sirius not long afterwards

If you could be Prime Minister for the day, what change would you instigate and why?
HS2 is a waste of money, so I’d stop that for a start. I also think some decisions need the long view, so I’d figure out how to prevent politicians taking short-term decisions. Pensions, transport and energy all need a long game

My last supper would comprise...
Seared scallops followed by roast sea bass, a glass of wine, and sticky toffee pudding, together with a dessert wine. No need to worry about the calories with this one

Who has been the most influential person in your life?
My grandma, a great woman who lived to 99 years and 364 days old. She gave me my love of reading (and cream cakes), taught me to do the best you can in all things and to have ambition beyond your immediate horizon

When I’m not working I like to...
I love watching most sports; I’m an avid Liverpool fan and a touchline dad. I also enjoy cycling in the Chilterns, meals out with my wife and family and exploring the world

Last film you saw?
Star Trek: Into Darkness (not great), though my favourite of all time is The Untouchables – a Sean Connery classic

Name your five ideal dinner party guests (dead or alive) noting what they bring to the party
Keith Floyd – what a character, though you’d have to have a big wine cellar; Strictly co-host Claudia Winkleman – slightly bonkers; Bill Shankly – he founded the Liverpool FC dynasty, and it would be great to find out what it was really like in the ‘boot room’; Margaret Thatcher – she’d have plenty of opinions to kick off a conversation; and Albert Einstein – pure genius, and he’d probably hit it off with Claudia

If you could travel back in time, where would you go?
The Roaring Twenties in America looks like a lot of fun, for the wealthy at least. But how amazing would it have been to sail into the unknown with Christopher Columbus, ride on the first steam engine with Robert Louis Stevenson, or fly with the Wright brothers?

Finish this sentence: Insurance is a great industry to work in because...
You can travel the world, meet a lot of great people and, if you’re willing to have a go, you can be given opportunities to make a difference

Would you like to be probed by Penny on one of her speed meets? Get in touch via Stephanie Denton

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