My Life’s Work | Alex Beard, Chief Executive, Royal Opera House

In this weekly series, we meet a Walpole member chief executive to discover what makes them tick, how they define success, and what keeps them awake at night. This week, Alex Beard, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House.

Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House since 2013, Alex has a life-long love of opera and a passionate enthusiasm for ballet. He serves on the boards of 14–18 NOW (the First World War Cultural Programme), the West End Partnership, and is Chairman of High House Production Park. He is a keen cyclist, cricketer and cook.

Alex was educated at Manchester Grammar School, Westminster School and King’s College London. He joined the Arts Council in 1986, before working at the Tate from 1994 to 2013, including as its Deputy Director from 2002. In 2012 he was appointed a CBE.

WHAT DOES BRITISH LUXURY MEAN TO YOU?
The highest standards of craftsmanship, spurred on by curiosity, creative flair and a commitment to innovation.

WHAT’S YOUR VISION FOR THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE?
For many more people to enjoy and engage with the very best of opera and ballet, both here in our beautiful Covent Garden theatres, and in cinemas, online and on tour across the world.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
Playing a big part in bringing up two wonderful young people, Betty and Alfie.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
Continuing to stretch yourself, and always doing your level best to realise your potential.

WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST EXTRAVAGANCE?
Everyday use of Venta del Baron olive oil. But it’s worth it!

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
So many things: sharing the stage door with my boyhood hero Plácido Domingo, the excited ovation at the end of a Royal Opera House school matinée, working  in the greatest lyric theatre in the world etc etc.

LEAST?
Actually I enjoy pretty much all of it, including learning from the inevitable mistakes.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST REGRET?
That my father Charles died too young for us to enjoy a night at the Royal Opera House together.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
It’s continually inspiring to work with the world’s greatest artists and craftspeople.

WHAT WAS YOUR BIG BREAK?
Meeting Dennis, now Lord Stevenson who pushed me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to apply for the Tate job.

WHATS YOUR GUIDING PRINCIPLE?
Do unto others…

WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
My wife Kate, no contest!

WHICH WORDS OR PHRASES DO YOU MOST OVER USE?
“net net”, “we’re the extreme sports of lyric theatre”, “80:20 rule”

WHAT KEEPS YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT?
Nothing. I’ve always been a good sleeper.

WHAT DO YOU MOST VALUE IN YOUR FRIENDS?
Laughter, a good chat over a delicious meal, dissecting together a game of sport or a night at the theatre.

IN A PARALLEL LIFE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
Opening bowler for England.

WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE ENTERING THE LUXURY INDUSTRY NOW?
Live by your values, work seriously hard, find mentors to stretch you, and have fun!

www.roh.org.uk