My Life’s Work | Michael Ward, Managing Director, Harrods

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. Today, Harrods Managing Director and Walpole Chairman, Michael Ward on fairness, laughter and always balancing the books.

As Managing Director of Harrods Michael Ward has one of the most influential and exciting roles in luxury retail. Since joining the business in 2005, he has embarked on a programme of significant business development, enabling Harrods to become the unrivalled and extremely successful retail model it is today.

Michael began his career in chartered accountancy, training originally with Ernst & Young in 1980, before taking his first Group Finance Director position at Bassett Food PLC in 1986 and gaining an MBA during this time. He was then appointed Group Finance Director of H.P. Bulmer Holdings PLC.

Retail beckoned and in 1994, Michael took up the post of Managing Director of Lloyds Chemist PLC, later joining other retailers Celesio AG and Apax Partners, before joining Harrods. Michael has been on the board of Walpole since 2012, and was appointed Chairman in 2016.

What does British luxury mean to you? 

Innovation and quality.

What’s your vision for Harrods?  

To be the greatest department store in the world.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?        

Living past 40. Every male in my lineage died before the age of 40.

How do you define success?     

Watching customers smile.

What’s your greatest extravagance?    

Cars, boats and houses.

What do you like most about your job?

The sheer variety, from food to lipsticks.

Least?  

The Sale.

What has been your greatest regret?    

I never have regrets, I only have learnings.

What inspires you?        

Excellence inspires me in every manifestation.

What was your big break?      

When I received my first PLC Directorship on my 30th Birthday.

What is your guiding principle?  

Fairness.

Which living person do you most admire?   

My wife. How she puts up with me is beyond amazing.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

When asked how I am I always say “outstandingly well”.

What keeps you awake at night?       

Nothing.

What do you most value in your friends?    

Laughter.

In a parallel life, what would you be doing?

A chef.

What piece of advice would you give someone entering the luxury industry now?

Aura and luxury are paramount, but it has to make money.

Find out more: Harrods.com