John Hunter is the chairman of the UK Shareholders’ Association.
In what ways does employee share ownership serve a useful purpose?
It encourages teamwork and all the benefits that brings – particularly in large organisations where the bottom can seem remote from the top – by providing a single measure of achievement to which the whole organisation can relate.
That applies to all except those who can directly influence the measure in the short term – i.e. the directors and senior investor relations staff and a few very senior managers. In them it encourages short-termism and the pursuit of eye-catching deals at the expense of sound investment (of both time and money) in long-term success; unless the plan is particularly well designed.
How can we widen and deepen the adoption and use of employee share ownership?
No easy answers. Publicise the successes, learn from the failures, share knowledge and experience.
Why do you think employee share ownership has enjoyed cross-party support in the UK?
Because the benefits of ESOPs are independent of party dogma.
Which aspect of the Esop Centre do you most value?
The help and friendship of those I meet through it.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
If I could identify it, it wouldn’t be perfect. My moments of perfect happiness have always been unexpected and usually involved some combination of family, friends and place.
What is your most marked characteristic?
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Outside of family matters, blundering through life without any of the ‘goals’ that are deemed important for ‘success’ but feeling successful for all that.
What historical figure do you most identify with?
Richard Feynman – as original as Einstein and much more fun. Samuel Pepys a close second.
Which living person do you most admire?
Who are your heroes in real life?
Boye Brogeland (who exposed a number of top bridge players as cheats and put his own career at risk to do so), Nassim Nicholas Taleb (‘Fooled by Randomness’), Anselm Kiefer.
Which word or phrases do you most overuse?
On the other hand…
What is your most treasured possession?