Lance Batchelor

Group CEO, Saga

Lance Batchelor graduated from Aber in 1985 with a BSc (Econ) in International Politics & Strategic Studies.  At the time of giving this interview he was CEO, Tesco Telecoms & Mobile, he has now moved to Saga as Group CEO.

What do you remember most about your time at Aber?

I have rich memories of my three years at Aber: thought-provoking lectures and seminars on a variety of topics; stimulating, funny and warm friendships; entertaining nights out in the town, with a huge variety of pubs and clubs to pick from; dark, wet winter nights, sitting in countryside pubs with good friends; representing the College and the University of Wales at karate, riding horses in the beautiful mountains on snowy days... and much more.  

What are you doing now career-wise and how has your Aberystwyth Degree helped?

What I'm doing now:
I started my post-Aber career with six years in the Royal Navy, where I reached the rank of Lieutenant. I did my basic training at Dartmouth in Devon, raced yachts for the navy team, spent a winter in the Caribbean on an aircraft carrier, got my pilot's license, qualified as a navy diver, learned to parachute with the marines, then chose submarines as my specialism. After several years at sea (Arctic, Falkland Islands, Mediterranean etc) I got married and decided to start the next stage of my career.
I spent the next years working up a marketing career ladder, becoming a Marketing Director at P&G, then a General Manager at in Seattle, then Chief Marketing Officer at Vodafone UK. Along the way I spent two highly challenging and enjoyable years doing my MBA at Harvard Business School.
I am now the CEO of Tesco Telecoms & Mobile.  I am also a "non executive director" (NED) of Domino's Pizza plc and Dunnhumby Ltd.

How Aber has helped:
1. During my 3 years at Aber I become self sufficient, learning to look after myself, albeit in a supportive environment.
2. I learned to learn. At Aber I was expected to get on with my work and seek help when required, rather than being "spoon fed" as at school.
3. At Aber I learned how to interact with a broad range of people, from various social backgrounds, countries and personality types. That lesson has been perhaps the most valuable of all. 

What advice would you have for a student doing your course now?

1. The more you put in, the more you'll get out. Don't be half-hearted or lazy about your years at Aber, throw yourself in. Although the list above might sound busy, my one regret is I didn't do more! 
2. Remember that while international politics will evolve (e.g. I spent much of my time studying the Soviet Union, now long gone) the skills and habits you learn will be relevant for your whole life.
3. Enjoy yourself. University is a once in a lifetime gift, and Aber is a great place to spend it.