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Q&A: Tony Willson, Helmsman Services

Who would you most like to shoot with a paintball gun? 

Jacques Delors – the guy who turned a trading group called the European Economic Community into an unelected commission that wants to run our country for us.

You’re God for the day. What’s the first thing you do? 

Bring back the respect that everyone should have for everyone else, which seems to have disappeared lately.

Who is your hero? 

Rob Northfield, my former boss when I worked with Dale Carnegie Training. He was a brilliant businessman and passed on so many tips to me, which have helped me be pretty successful.

What has been your worst business decision? 

Not so much a bad decision as awful timing – not selling the business in June 2008 just before the recession hit!

And best?

Being persuaded, 13 years ago, to join my wife in what was her fledgling business.

Who or what are you enjoying listening to?  

Rod Stewart’s new album Time. He is brilliant at telling a story through song.

What is your favourite book or film?

Any of the Monty Python films – they still make me laugh even though I must have seen them four or five times each.

What would you take with you to a desert island?

The scripts of all of the Monty Python films.

What characteristic do you most dislike in others?  


If you were blessed with the necessary talent, what would your dream job be?

A member of the SAS.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?  

Always remain positive by counting your blessings.

What should the construction industry be doing to help itself in the current climate? 

SMEs need to diversify. I have seen too many old established companies go broke because they stuck to what they always did. There are many opportunities out there if you want to find them.

What’s the best work-related thing you did recently?

Took on a general manager to enable my wife and I to take more time off and eventually retire.

How would you like to be remembered? 

As someone who motivated staff to achieve more than they ever thought that they could.

Tony Willson is the managing director of Helmsman Services, which provides outsourced services to manage training, development and e-learning services for the construction industry

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